Bringing Back the “Dead”: An Interview with Hèctor Hernández Vicens

 hectorhernandezvicens

Hèctor Hernández Vicens is a Spanish-born filmmaker who got his start in television as a writer for the series El Cor de la Ciutat in 2000 and would go on to write and direct episodes of the 2007 series Pol & Cia. He made his feature film directorial debut in 2015 with The Corpse of Anna Fritz, but his latest film is sure to get a love or hate response: a reboot of the 1985 zombie classic Day of the Dead. His latest film, titled Day of the Dead: Bloodline comes to theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on January 5 from Saban Films and Millennium Media.

World Film Geek had the opportunity to interview Vicens about making this reboot of the George A. Romero classic.

First of all, Hèctor, thank you for talking about Day of the Dead: Bloodline. I got to see the film and really enjoyed it.
Thank you for the interview and I’m happy that you liked the film.

Before we talk about the film, can you talk about how you got into filmmaking?
I’ve been working as a writer in television for about twenty years and then I started to study photography. I eventually directed my first film, The Corpse of Anna Fritz, which I also wrote the script with some interesting characters. We didn’t have much money for the film, but we made it. I wanted to finish and direct my own story because when you are able to direct your own story, you have that power and will to want to finish it, so that’s what I did. And I love movies as well, so that inspired me to direct.

What led you to do a reboot of Day of the Dead, which today is considered a classic zombie film?
Well, when I read the script, I realized it was quite different from Romero’s movie. So, it’s not exactly the same story and it’s not the same characters. And I love Romero’s movie, so I decided I didn’t want to remake it in the style of Romero because that is a classic. I decided to set it in a bunker because the bunker itself is one of the most important pieces of the film.

I wanted to bring emotion of the characters because I wanted to make a film whose philosophy was the same as Romero’s philosophy. When you share the same philosophy, it’s not just a movie. There’s the colors, the characters, the hate, the love, the friendship.

Have you been a horror film fan for a long time?
Well, I like all kinds of movies. I do like all different types of horror movies, of course. I love Romero’s trilogy (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead). I love great zombie movies and I love great horror movies.

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Jonathan Schaech on the set of Day of the Dead: Bloodline.

What was it like working with the cast?
We really enjoyed working together on the film. Jonathan [Schaech] is a great actor and to have him play a zombie is really fun and interesting because we came up with his character without really thinking that he’s not a zombie, but he thinks he’s a human. He has those human emotions. His character of Max is something who’s not completely a zombie. Yes, he needs to kill people and eat their flesh, but he hates the other zombies because they don’t have a brain. Max does have a brain, a human brain, so he is put in the worst situation. However, we created the character that allows the actor to speak from the heart and not just mimic. So, we made the character and interesting and deep zombie.

And the other characters are those you can feel for because these are people who lost their families. So, with the actors, we really worked in the sadness, the frustration, and the thought of people thinking about what happened in the past. So, we created these emotions that were demonstrated throughout the film.

Did you endure any difficulties while shooting the film?
I think the difficulty we endured the most was the timing. You always want to work through the film, work with the actors, and take your time. However, when you have a movie that is low-budget, in this case, I shot the movie in only four weeks. It’s something that is practically impossible. Especially when you have a small crew. But, the actors and the crew worked well together and we were able to pull it off. The only major issue was the timing.

Finally, are you working on any new projects that you can discuss?
I am going to work on my third film, which like The Corpse of Anna Fritz, I wrote and will direct. I will focus on the subjects and bring my style of characters and stories to life.

Do you have a message for the fans who are gearing up to see the film?
Well, I am a fan myself (laughs), so I hope there are those who will appreciate the film. There are going to be those who will say “You can’t remake a Romero film” and will probably call me a mother(censored) and I shouldn’t have done it (laughs).

I think this is a film for those who like 80’s horror films like Re-Animator, The Evil Dead, and Romero’s films. I think they will appreciate this film. People who only want action and action and not care about the characters or story, this movie isn’t for those. But, I hope most people will like the film.

I did see the original film years ago and having seen this film, I can safely say that I like both films. Your version did what you said it did, bringing a lot of drama mixed in with the horror. I like a film that has to have both the story and action combined. I don’t like focusing on one element. A good film has all those elements and this film delivers on that.
Well, thank you so much. I think to make a good horror film, you need good characters. And those characters are developed by the actors. It is the actors’ jobs to bring those characters to life and they are free to create those characters. If the movie has a philosophy as well as a subject, you can make a smart horror film. It’s not just crying and brooding. I didn’t want to do just brooding. I wanted to do a film where the characters are human.

Excellent! Well, Day of the Dead: Bloodline comes to theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on January 5. I think anyone who liked the original or who want a good horror film with a story will enjoy this film. Thank you so much again Hèctor for talking about the film.
Thank you so much!

A Special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Hèctor Hernández Vicens for making this interview possible.

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