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Interview with Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano, the creative forces behind Crystal Eyes
By James Whittington, Saturday 15th September 2018
FrightFest 2018 exposed attendees to horror from all over the world and one that made an incredibly stylish and retro impact was the superb giallo inspired shocker, Crystal Eyes. Here the co-writers and co-directors Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano tell us all about this affectionate love letter to the classics of the 80s.
Where did the idea for Crystal Eyes come from?
Crystal Eyes was supposed to be the third episode of our web-series called No Podras Dormir Esta Noche (You Won't Sleep Tonight) which paid homage to different horror sub genres in each episode, and eventually it turned into a feature film. We love Giallo since forever and its style has lots of similarities with ours: a striking colour palette, beautiful girls in danger, wild fashions, and a relentless masked killer. At first, the story was going to be about a police investigation about a prostitute killer, but decided to do something more glamorous that could show our 80s love, and we changed prostitutes for supermodels and got rid of the police investigation and here we are.
How long did it take to write?
Well, it took us 2 years to film the movie, so the script changed a lot during that time, according to the new ideas we got while looking for places to film or preparing the sets. The first version of the movie (the short version) was probably written in a month or so. We then added the opening scene and other tweaks to turn it into a feature film, so add a couple of more weeks to that.We tend to talk a lot with each other about different ideas and twist plots and characters, so the writing usually doesn't take too long, as we have everything in our minds first.
Did you have a cast in mind whilst writing it?
Actually, we didn't. At least nobody we knew in person, more like other famous people or characters we loved, and we did know how we wanted them to look. For Lucia L'uccello we had Joan Collins as a reference. We did change the characters and their lines a bit once we knew who was going to play them.
The killer's mask is key to the film, who designed it?
We thought of doing a mannequin as a killer as they are highly iconic in Giallo and nobody - as far as we know - has used them as a killer before. We talked about the idea with our super talented friend Issis Trash and (s)he loved the idea and said (s)he would do it as long as (s)he could play the killer, and we were delighted to let h(er/im). Issis is our personal McGyver in drag, who can built a house with some mud and a few toothpicks. After the mask was completed, we gave it to our dear friend Matias Nazareno, who is an amazing make-up artist, one of the best here, so he did the final touches, adding eyelashes and lipstick and everything you see. Another colourful data is that her wig is made from actual hair, from one of our friends, La Betty, who donated her hair to Issis to make a wig a long time ago.
Most of the characters are grotesque, were any based on people you know?
We consider our characters "over the top" rather than grotesque, but we know what you mean. The characters are dramatic and they love it. We imagine them in their "real lives off-screen" rehearsing their speeches and stares in the mirror, raising their eyebrows. Nothing in their life is natural, they're part of a superfluous and sophisticated world where there's no place to act natural. They were not based on any real people, but of course Alexis Carrington Colby is there all the time and also Mary Lou Maloney from "Prom Night II", along with Stephanie Von Monaco and all the extras from Purple Rain.
You have some many different roles on this movie, how did you balance time for each one?
Being awake for days and doing everything at once, haha. We were 100% of the time doing and thinking and breathing the movie. It also helped that we drank galons of diet coke with instant-coffee (Thank you, Kristen Parker!) each day and never stopped to realise we were tired. There were also lots of friends helping us. We love what we do so much that we are like forces of nature while doing it. The worst thing was once the last shot was done and all the energy left out bodies and we wanted to be in bed but still have to return the equipment and clean the sets.
The movie has a deliberate 80s/Giallo vibe to it, why did you choose this feel and what are your favourite movies from this era and genre?
Everything we do is set in the 80s, as that is our favourite era. It's not something we deliberately "choose", it's a natural thing for us. We hate modern times, we are not really interested in doing a movie that is set in 2018 or anything. We hate it when cellphones and social media appear on a horror movie, and every object is way more beautiful to film if made 30 or 40 years ago. There are lots of Giallo movies we love. To name a few: Suspiria, Blood and Black Lace, Nothing Underneath, The Perfume of the Lady in Black, Inferno, Tenebrae... and on the 80s horror side, we love Nightmare on Elm Street (Part I, III and IV specially), Stage Fright, Friday the 13th (Final Chapter and A New Beginning), Curtains, and many more!
What is the horror movie industry like in Argentina?
It is definitely growing, and there are a few horror movie directors who love the genre and want it to be successful. But unfortunately, sometimes there's not enough money given to horror movies to completely develop a great film. Sometimes the same budget is given to a comedy and to a horror/fantastic movie, that needs special effects and explosions and more shooting time for death or action scenes, so at the end the result is not always great. With Aterrados (which also screened at FrightFest) there's a light at the end of the tunnel and we are sure Argentina will be sooner than later a huge horror movies reference.
Do you get nervous when your movies show at festivals?
Yes! You are always worried about technical failures. We have recurring nightmares of our movie being on the screen in black and white. The anxiety and the stage fright often started to slowly disappear when you're in front of the audience, although it's more frightening when you do that in a place with a different language. We can't stand watching the movie anymore as we have watched it thousands of times, but we like to stay in the last row's shadows watching the audience's reaction to the movie!
You were both the most stylish people at FrightFest 2018, do you design your own clothes?
Ha ha, thank you so much! We design our looks but didn't make the clothes themselves, but we do the designs of our t-shirts and add spikes and rhinestones and sharpy details to our suits and belts! We like to think ourselves as "Minor Pop Stars" (We read that phrase once in a Smash Hits magazine from the 80s, referring to Toyah Willcox and we started to use it every time we can!) We love the 80s and fully make-up stars with hairs that matched their will to defy every established rule.
So, what are you working on at the moment?
We have a short movie in the works, that could end up being part of an Anthology feature film that we really want to do (as we had some short stories that we imagined for "You Won't Sleep Tonight", and of course we started talking about an imaginary flick titled "Crystal Eyes 2: Eyes of Video-Tape" while we were filming the original and instant-cult classic (?) "Crystal Eyes" in 2017. We are action-figures customizers too, so, The Silhouette is going to have her own 80s action-figure with accessories and a lovely box sometime in the near future!
Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano, thank you very much.
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