Prepárate Para Tener Miedo With New Horror Anthology Satanic Hispanics
Segment directors on celebrating Latino diversity through terror
By Richard Whittaker,
5:40PM, Wed. Nov. 15, 2023
For a film that brings together Latino filmmakers, Satanic Hispanics does everything it can to prove that there's no such thing as Latino horror. Or, rather, there's not a singular Latino horror. Instead, it's a many-headed beast.
With segments with directors from Argentina (Demián Rugna, When Evil Lurks) Cuba (Alejandro Brugués, Juan of the Dead), Mexico (Gigi Saul Guerrero, Bingo Hell), and the U.S. (Eduardo Sanchez, The Blair Witch Project), plus a wraparound from Mike Mendez (Don't Kill It), Satanic Hispanics is a truly panamerican project. After a smash run on the festival circuit and a rare (for anthologies) theatrical release in September, the film is available now on VOD, ahead of hitting Blu-ray on Dec. 12.
For Brugués (who also served as a producer alongside Mendez) that geographic expansion reflects the diversity of the region. He said, “Usually here, when people think about Latinos they mostly think Mexicans, but at the same time we are so different from each other. We have so much in common, too, but part of the differences is reflected in the tone of the different stories.”
That's why he sees the cerebral tone of Argentinian cinema in Rugna's segment, “while Ed Sanchez and I go with humor because that's how Cubans are. We laugh at everything because it's the only way to deal with everything that has happened in Cuba in the last 60-plus years. And Gigi goes dark in spirit because that reflects the Mexican spirit, because they have that relationship with death and violence. So in that sense the tone of each short reflects each of our backgrounds.”
Additionally everyone involved in Satanic Hispanics has a background in anthologies. Guerrero not only worked on 2015's Mexico Barbaro, but also raised a buried god for V/H/S/85. Sanchez joined the venerable found footage franchise a decade ago for V/H/S/2, and Mendez got seasonal for his part of Tales of Halloween. “And Alejandro, more than any of us,” said Mendez, noting that while Brugués got his own case of sequelitis for Austin-based Drafthouse Film's ABCs of Death 2, he also oversaw his own anthology with 2011's Cursed Bastards.
Austin Chronicle: Some anthologies have very clear filmmaking guidelines, and some just make the shorts work together when they're finished. When this project was set up, how much guidance was there for what the aim was?
Alejandro Brugués: We don't have a plan. Does it look like we have a plan?
Gigi Saul Guerrero: You guys definitely had a plan. I'll speak, because I was one of the filmmakers who was invited to this. And what was super-fun, and maybe it wasn't perfectly planned, from the very beginning what me and my team were super-excited about was this concept of this traveler having these artifacts from each of these stories. That's really cool, and immediately I went, 'This anthology has a plan of how everything is going to come together, which is really cool.'
With the past anthologies that I've worked on, it was very much, 'OK, here's your budget, go run with it, we'll talk to you in post,' and then we're always rushing as to how is it connecting and, urgh, it's too long, rather than making one cohesive, big movie. And I think that is why Satanic Hispanics is resonating with people: because they can't wait to see the wraparound again of what else he's gonna tell us.
The most fun part was that we were filming a lot of the segments live. So it was a lot of Mike going first, and saying, 'OK, I've filmed this, guys, so you kind of have to make it work for yours.' That was something that he did for mine. I didn't have a script – I actually picked a location before I had a script - and Mike actually shot the wraparound and he just incorporated a specific prop, and went, 'OK, Gigi, good luck!'
There was this collaborativeness even with us being so far apart. My friend, if you could see this Whatsapp group chat, it's an absolute mess, but you can see we were trying to make it work.
AB: Mike, wasn't there some moment where Demián changed the name of a character and you mentioned that and we went, 'No, no, no, go back to the other name,' and he was shooting [Where Evil Lurks], and we all went, 'I hope he remembers to change that back.'
So it's a balance, and part of the deal for me of anthologies is I like working with other filmmakers and supporting them and collaborating together, but it is a balance. You want to find a theme that makes your anthology unique – in this case being Latin-American folklore – and you want to give certain parameters, whether it be aspect ratio, whether it be the prop, so it will all tie together. But at the same time, the appeal for filmmakers is complete and total creative control. Because it's certainly not budget and it's not money that we're convincing them with. So it's imperative that the filmmaker gets to make their film, but it has to be part of the larger piece.
AB: We didn't tell anyone that this has to be serious, or this has to be funny. We let everyone do their thing, and tell their own stories."
MM: If we do another one of these, god willing, I like to interweave things even more. If the Traveller turns up in a segment, I'd love that.
AC: So how did you decide which filmmaker got which artifact?
MM: It's a back and forth. You set the parameter, and everyone has an idea of what the story is, and then it goes back to the Traveler, and we figure out how we can make that link. Sometimes we had a lot of information, like Alejandro knew he wanted the Hammer of Zanzibar, so that was very clear. Others, like Demián, didn't know what he wanted to shoot until two weeks before, so we knew we had a basic idea that it was about portals and there was a character called Gustavo.
AB: And we knew it had a creature, because he mentioned that his special effects people needed some time.
GSG: And we knew Ed was doing a vampire one. So an artifact can be a thing, it can be a photograph, it can be anything that triggers the Traveler into telling another story. Part of the burden was on us to figure that out, and part of was to come up with a cool story to fit in.
AC: How nerve wracking is it to wait for those segments to come in?
MM: It's a giant gamble. It's a complete roll of the dice, and it's 100% on the faith that you picked good filmmakers, both as people to work with and deal with, and as talents behind the camera. And I think that we chose good filmmakers, and we were very pleasantly surprised whenever we would get the stuff. 'OK, they're taking it seriously.'
Satanic Hispanics is available now on VOD, and will be on Blu-ray Dec. 12.