“Vampyres” director Victor Matellano takes the time to answer a few questions about his latest film, working with José Ramón Larraz, and working with Marta Flich and Almudena León on difficult scenes!
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How did you become interested in José Ramón Larraz’s “Vampyres?” And what possessed you to write and helm a remake? How did you meet Larraz and was he initially on board and enthusiastic with the project? How was the dynamic between you two?
Larraz I met many years ago, in 1996. We were introduced by the actor Jack Taylor and we became friends. Larraz was a good conversationalist, very friendly and fun. At that time I only made short films and had just published a book. Over the years, whenever we saw each other we were talking about doing something together. After releasing “Wax” we planned to make a film together. Why not go back to “Vampyres”, we said. He thought he could make a new version with some changes and I liked very much to work on original material. We reviewed the history, worked up a new script and thought about directing it together. But his illness did not let him. A shame because the idea excited him. Although he came to shoot the teaser presented at the Festival of Sitges.
How much of a challenge was there to recreate, and to slightly modernize, the foreboding atmosphere in “Vampyres” that the original film embodied?
It was certainly a challenge. The idea was to generate new atmosphere. And update characters and situations. Although from the beginning I thought it was necessary to make a timeless atmosphere. If the characters don’t use a mobile phone it is perhaps not so easy to know what time the action takes place. Actually the story of the film is legendary: a group of young people (who would be our Hansel and Gretel) wind up in a forest that is the home of witches who threaten them, offer them sexual pleasures, and eventually devour them.
The original 1974 “Vampyres” is followed by a select niche of fans and has really kept out of the limelight of mainstream horror. Was funding difficult for this type of remake where audiences have probably never seen, or ever heard of, the original film?
One of the things we talked about, executive producer Angel Mora, Larraz and I, was that perhaps the first version was a cult film, but a film generally well-known among horror fans. For this reason we decided to make a new and commercial version. Perhaps investors were too crazy to follow our idea …
Usually, when many production companies are involved, creative differences sometimes cloud the director’s vision, a sort of too many cooks in the kitchen type scenario. Were there, if any, issues with the way “Vampyres” was being formulated and/or being handled from a writer-director/production point of view? Did you feel you had total creative control?
I had a lot of freedom to do “Vampyres”. Angel Mora, my executive producer, reviewed the script, but then gave me freedom to do things my way on the set and I always had Larraz previous ideas. Having several co-producing companies in this case has not been a problem for style or creativity in the film.
Your rendition of this story feels like a thoughtful tribute to José Ramón Larraz’s work and amongst the lost art of European horror. Was making “Vampyres” the direct result of having a pure love for this Larraz’s film and what kind of reaction we’re you anticipating when screening for audiences?
Well, “Vampyres” is a mixture of film tribute to a kind of cinema, and it’s own entertainment simultaneously. I always had (in my head) wanted to combine respect for the original film and its values, to make a divertimento of horror. Some might discover it as a result of loving gothic literature and cinema, but those who just have fun with blood and sex will also find it.
What kind of preparations (if you know) did Marta Flich and Almudena León (phenomenal casting by the way) tackle in order to portray Fran and Miriam? Were they comfortable with the extreme sexual nature and blood thirst required their roles?
Casting tests were tough and demanding. Actresses were needed with great determination, courage and strength. Marta and Almudena are very strong and at the same time very funny. They approached the filming of the toughest sequences with humor and much involvement. It is not easy to kiss while being showered with 75 liters of artificial blood above, or to demonstrate sufficient balance between perversion and sensuality. Both the sex scenes as torture are difficult to shoot if you do not have good actors. And they made it easy. The whole team got involved and made it easy. The atmosphere was total concentration.
“Vampyres” had an ending that was left wide open for potentially continuing the story. Do you think you, or Larraz, would pursue adding to the story, as a sort of sequel, if given the financial backing and you had a great script in hand?
I do not know … That version had an open end and this has that too. Perhaps because we are talking about two women (do not know if they are vampires, or cannibals, or psychopaths or ghosts …) who repeat the same ritual again and again as if they were spiders trapping flies. Who knows, maybe later, on occasion, we can return to this terrible story …
What projects are on the horizon that you can give ItsBlogginEvil.com the inside scoop?
I finished a few weeks ago a new movie, a very violent and bloody western entitled “Stop Over in Hell” which has Enzo G. Castellari in the cast. It has begun its journey through festivals with the Almeria Western Film Festival, the only one of its kind in Europe, where Clint Eastwood filmed “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. I hope that you soon may see it.