Interview with Patricio Valladares, director of Embryo
By James Whittington, Saturday 24th October 2020
Embryo image 1

Chilean director Patricio Valladares is back at FrightFest and this time he's taking us into the science fiction zone with Embryo. Here he chats about working with Robert Englund on Nightworld and this sci-fi shocker.

HC: Have you always been a fan of horror and sci-fi movies?

PV: Yes, from my childhood, my old brother watched Jason Voorhees and A Nightmare on Elm Street film series at home with a couple friends in the 80s. So, I always went from the bathroom to the living room at night to watch from behind the sofa with them. I Loved it! I liked the ultraviolence and gore from Robocop. When I was 14 or 15 I was a metalhead, so I had lots of tapes of death metal and a lot of low budget and underground horror movies at VHS. I'm from a small town in the south of Chile called Chillan. Is a village that at this time has not too many video clubs, but with a lot of horror movies from many countries, no idea for why. Like German horror, UK...USA of course and a lot gore and cinema verite.

HC: We show another of your movies, Nightworld here on Horror, what's your happiest memory of that movie?

PV: This movie and the experience for me was a great moment of my career it was a big deal for me and my friend, Barry Keating. Loris Curci, the producer of Nightworld, sent me the script and told me that he really wanted me as director to shoot this film. And after two seconds I said "Yes, please". The producers told me that they would be casting Robert Englund. This blew my mind! With Loris Curci we shot a remake from my Chilean movie Hidden in the Wood at Texas a couple years ago with Michael Biehn (I'm a fan of Terminator) and now I had the chance to work with another legendary actor. Robert is an adorable and charismatic human being. The flick was shot in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was selected to be shown at FrightFest and was released on theatrical and Netflix in North America. And of course, it is on Horror Channel too. I'm a very big fan of the channel.

HC: How did Embryo come about?

PV: Fun story! It was after Downhill was shown at FrightFest. We went for beers with Barry and after a couple, I told him that we maybe need to do another movie but more sci-fi or aliens and stuff, but still the visceral style set in Chile. Emails with ideas were sent. I really love Xtro and movies like this, but we needed to do something new or more hybrid. We completed a full treatment, and the rest is history. It took 5 years to write, save the money and finished a 70-minute movie, not long then, ha ha.

HC: It seems to have been shot entirely on location, was it a tough shoot?

PV: Not at all, we shot entirely in the woods behind a cabin, at a village on a mountain called "Los Lleuques", about an hour from my hometown. It's a beautiful forest, in fact, it is the same forest from my movie Downhill (2016). This part was a little fun. We shot all the main scenes in just 3 or 4 days with a Red Camera, with very little artificial light.

HC: What did the cast say about the really bloody special effects?

PV: The truth is that all the cast and crew were friends with me for many years, maybe 15 years. When I invited them to shoot a movie, we had such a fun time. They eagerly said "hell yeah", I told them, "Hey but there will be some gore, and make up and more bloodbath" and the response was, "Sure Patricio, no problem! let's go!" I was so happy that they helped me to do this movie. I'm very appreciative of my friends.

HC: Were you restricted by budget at all?

PV: Of course, we shot and made this movie thinking always of a low budget. We shot and made Embryo with just less Than 6000 Euros in cash and with a lot of favours from friends and family. This film took a lot of time to finish but is now 2020 and it is done. We started the principal shoot in 2018 but no expensive scenes or anything like that. Many people, filmmakers and horror fans say "It's impossible to make cheap movies now!" but isn't true. Embryo is an example. Was very Robert Rodriguez style.

HC: There's some nice, HR Giger style artwork on show at the end, was this a deliberate nod to his genius?

PV: Oh yes! That was so sweet and was done at the last minute during post-production. I said "We need to put some power at the end" I have a friend, a very famous Chilean illustrator of comic books called Juan Vasquez. We worked on a comic book years ago and he always showed me his sketchbook with amazing and creepy stuff, So, after finishing the edition I called him and said I can use some stuff from his sketchbook for the show at the end. It's a very Chilean version from HR Giger. Juan Vasquez, thank you for this!

HC: Do you believe that aliens exist?

PV: I don't know, but we are so minuscule in space, so it is possible that other life exists in space, maybe more microorganisms!! It's a big question and we have many undeniable reasons that will make our belief in aliens! For example, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Aztecs or Mayas. Embryo picked up ideas about the mysterious Friendship Island. The south of Chile is surrounded by mysteries and myths. One of them is about an island that is supposedly inhabited by extra-terrestrials or people that, unlike ordinary human beings, possess a vast amount of knowledge in the fields of science, aeronautics, physics, mathematics, and medicine. The name of the island is "Friendship" and it is located in an island complex called Kent at Aysen Region.

HC: What is the film industry like in Chile?

PV: Today, the film industry in Chile produces over 50 films each year. Cinema has been highlighted in several international festivals, especially Arthouse films. There aren't many horror movie productions, but this is everywhere.

HC: Will you be nervous when the movie is shown at FrightFest?

PV: Yes, we are so excited for this, I mean, this is my fourth movie at FrightFest, my first with my pal Barry Keating. I really love this festival and the FrightFest team. They always tell me I am FrightFest's favourite Chilean director! Alan, Paul, Ian and Greg, thanks for the support guys! Really, it's great and I hope the audience, and horror fan community enjoy our movie!

HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?

PV: From now until the end of the year, Embryo is hitting festivals and has a major release next year with Uncork'd Entertainment. And Barry and I are developing another horror feature set in the UK. It is a serial neo-slasher movie; my idea is to shoot as soon as is possible; however, due to Covid19 we are on hold. We are really excited about it!

HC: Patricio Valladares, thank you very much.

PV: Absolute pleasure, thank you for your time.

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