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INT: Mike Mendez

09.07.2001by: The Arrow

The Arrow interviews Mike Mendez

I had never heard of Mike Mendez before "The Convent", but after seeing the film you can bet your sweet ass that I won't forget his name and will be on the look-out for his upcoming projects. "The Convent" is a fun-filled, blood soaked, demonic nun on the loose fiasco that delivers the goods like the good old days. Arrow caught up with Mike and this is what he had to say.

1- What’s your favorite horror movie?

My favorite horror movie is "Evil Dead 2". That is the classic for me. I probably learned more about filmmaking by watching that film than any other. I also saw the bridge between horror and comedy, and I thought it was brilliant. I'm a true horror lover, so I have many favorites. "The Exorcist", "Suspiria", "The Thing" to name a few, but "Evil Dead 2" reigns supreme for me.

2- Your first film was called “Real Killers”. What sort of distribution did it get? The film’s rep is that it’s very violent. Do you think it’s that excessive?

My first film was "Killers" which got released in the U.S. as "Real Killers". Which I hate because it reminds me "Real Ghostbusters". Anyway this is an ultra-low budget weird thriller thingie. It was made for about 100,000 dollars and eventually got released on video. To be honest, it’s not really my favorite project I've ever done, but it was the first time anyone ever gave me the chance to direct a feature, so of course I did it. It got into the Sundance Film Festival and started up my career, so for that I'll always be thankful for it. The U.S. version is cut up and has a really crappy transfer, in fact every country that bought the film had a different cut of it. We managed to find something different to offend everyone. Korea cut out the cannibalism, England cut out a child getting shot, and the U.S. cut out the ending. It was oddly flattering. I don't really find the movie that extreme, but I'm pretty fucked up.

3- "The Convent" has an 80s stamp all over it. Was that on purpose? What films inspired it?

"The Convent" is an homage to 80's horror films, pure and simple. They don't make those movies anymore, and I felt I had a rare opportunity to make something silly, weird and with no rules. We had little money and very little time to shoot this, so I tried to go for something fun, something gory. The frenetic shooting pace probably added to the fast pace and wild energy of the film. I didn't think I would get a chance to do another movie where no one was really looking over my shoulder, so we could go with an "anything goes" mentality. So I wanted to make an homage to the films I loved growing up, to "Evil Dead 2", "Re-Animator", "Friday the 13th: Part 7", "Demons", etc... All the stuff I used to read about in "Fangoria" when I was a kid. Films that were fun, and got an audience involved when someone got decapitated. So we did.

4- The Demonic Nuns have a very particular look...they’re florescent. Was the look of the Demon Nuns important to you? What were you going for?

The look of the Demonic Nuns was certainly important. I wanted to go with something fairly simple, but effective. Also I knew I wanted glowing eyes, but I didn't want to rely on CGI or anything in post, because it would be too costly and could very easily look very shitty. So there were these black light re-active contact lenses I had heard about. They were really expensive, I think like 2 grand a pair, so we couldn't afford to buy them, so we borrowed one pair and kept re-using them, but since we had the black light going, this opened up a whole bunch of different opportunities to use florescent effects. I knew I wanted their blood to look like lava, so we used florescent paint. It evolved to veins and teeth, and that's how they ended up looking the way they do.

5- What kind of reactions did you get off the film so far? On a personal note "Frijole" cracked me and my friends up. The dude was so funny!

The reaction to the film has been (usually) very good. We seem to get extreme reactions, people can absolutely love it or think it's the biggest piece of shit ever made. I'm also oddly flattered by this as well. It's one thing for people to not like your film, it's another to totally piss them off. But thankfully the reactions are much more often good then bad. We've played over 30 film festivals and it always went over great, especially if you have an audience filled with horror fans, it gets pretty wild, and that's the best. I'm glad you enjoyed "Frijole", I like him too. People react differently to the characters. There's a lot of fans of "The Prince of Evil" David Gunn and The Goth chick "Mo" Megahn Perry. But I'm glad "Frijole" was your boy.

6- Chaton Anderson wrote the screenplay and also appears in the film as Seraphina. Did you go through a lot of script changes as the shoot progressed?

Yes, Chaton wrote and was in the film. I collaborated with her during the writing process. I story-boarded everything beforehand, so there was little improvisation. We only had 18 days to shoot this, so we didn't have the luxury of time to try things differently or experiment on the spot.

7- I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me when the film will be officially released. Can you clear that up?

"The Convent" is supposed to be out on video and DVD on December 11th, 2001. Just in time for Christmas. It will be R-rated so it will have 19 seconds less of gore, but if all goes according to plan, we will more than make up for it on the "Extra Features". This hopefully will be a very loaded disk.

8- What’s next up on your plate? Any thoughts of a “Convent” sequel?

There will be no "Convent" sequel that I am involved in, but I don't own the rights so god knows what can happen. Next on my plate is a bit larger film, that is a supernatural thriller, that's jargon for "Bad Ass Ghost Movie". I promise you won't be disappointed.

9- Was genre vet Adrienne Barbeau your first choice for the part of Christine? Did you feel intimidated directing her at all?

I love Adrienne. She was absolutely my first and only choice to play Christine. I've always been a fan of hers and she was an absolute dream to work with. Very giving, not intimidating, very cooperative.

10- Am I ever going to see a romantic comedy directed by Mike Mendez?

I guarantee that you won't see a romantic comedy from me anytime soon, but never say never.

I'd like to thank Mike for his time and for the fun ride that he gave me with The Convent. I'm looking forward to his next film, that's for sure! Mark December 11, 2001 down on your calendars, dudes and dudettes! It's gonna be a bloody Christmas!



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