AS: I didn’t see a Buñuel or Jodorowsky film until the late ’80s, but I did watch ’70s Mexican TV, stuff like El Chapulín Colorado and El Santo films. Back then, Mexican TV was bizarre and creative — maybe a little twisted. But I was a kid of the video stores, especially mom-and-pop video stores. I could watch Star Wars or an Indiana Jones film in theaters, but on video, I could discover the Italian horror films of the ’70s and ’80s, like Fulci and Argento, or American indie stuff like The Evil Dead, or Canadian stuff like The Brood.
Video was awesome. It was something new and very exciting. It was the most intimate experience between you and the movies. I mean, you can rewind, pause, and play it again, so my main goal in renting was to learn — to see the stuff that no one wanted to play at the movies or on TV. Video stores were my film school. When everybody was talking about Rocky II or Gremlins, I was exploring Last House from the Left or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the very first time.
CD: I understand the creator of Rue Morgue was born and raised in Tijuana. Is that a coincidence, or is there a tradition of horror culture there?
AS: There is something about Tijuana that makes us want to be aggressive and furious in every way. I’m not talking just about cinema and arts…everything: the way we live, the way we eat, the way we worship something.
I remember back in the ’80s, the whole Smiths/Morrissey trend. People were really thinking about killing themselves or being depressed. How can you relate to a British white dude with totally different values? [Laughs]. But it is because of the desire to be part of something, wanting to belong. Because, for a while, we never fit into the country’s traditions and values, so we searched for a cultural identity. Mix that with being a border town — the weak part of the border town — and, boom! You got yourself a third-world city that is very self-conscious, but very ignored at the same time. So, yeah, it’s all frustration, and frustration could lead to violence and chaos.
But what happens if you put that feeling outside the city, in the right place at the right time? Violence and chaos in real life aren’t cool at all, but as a state of mind it could lead to something good, something unique, like the punk movement, and I guess that’s what happened to Rodrigo [Gudiño] from Rue Morgue. He is a very methodical man, but he can’t deny the carretera escenica (the scenic road) influence in his life. He saw his first accident on that road to Playas de Tijuana. The gore haunted him for many years, and he ended up creating the biggest horror-film magazine of the 2000s. It’s no coincidence. The cliché is true. I’ve been robbed a couple of times with a gun to my head, but I can’t deny I’ve been curious about slowing down at an accident and trying to catch a glimpse of gore.
Frustration was the essence of the underground culture. There wasn’t any true horror tradition in the country’s mainstream for many years. Guillermo del Toro [the Mexican director of Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth] was an exception, but if you look at the themes and ideas of Mexican cinema between 1988 and 1998, most of it was dull and full of academic shit. There wasn’t any room for genre films. But in Tijuana, we were doing serial-killer films, zombie films, cyberpunk films, ghost films, fantasies, etc. So I guess horror films became the new punk, and Guillermo del Toro was like our David Bowie — the only mainstream dude that we love! [Laughs]. Plus, we have a tradition of b-movie companies. Baja Films could be the Full Moon Productions of Mexico.
The main reason I said that Tijuana’s real cinema is about horror and the fantastic is because we do not identify ourselves with the reality of Mexico. We create our own Mexico through movies, music, photography, etc. Local horror filmmakers do not make horror ugly. Our films are not about the horror of real life; our horror is about liberation, about trying to know each other. And we are still searching.
Today, there is no underground anymore, and horror culture is established across the country, but there is a new breed of aggressiveness and anger in the city. Ego is a big part of it, as well as self-indulgence. And I think that is really cool, because those characteristics maintain a bizarre and freakish side to the city, and we need that. Tijuana should stay raw and eccentric. That’s the essence of its art and culture...you know what I mean? Maybe we can do our own Tijuana Chainsaw Massacre film, but at the same time, our own Liquid Sky.
CD: What is your camera of choice, and why?
AS: I’m definitely from the digital generation. I come from the generation that used Final Cut Pro for the very first time, but I feel comfortable with any format. I own a Canon 6D, but high-resolution is not what drives me. In fact, I hate that almost every HD indie project looks the same. Do not get me wrong — I love HD, but it makes us lazier. That’s why I still use my regular Mini DV Cam from Panasonic (DVX100), or even my VHS camcorder. I always force myself to work under other conditions than the crystal-clear HD.
By the way, VHS is the new Super 8. Contrary to what people think, it’s beautiful, and it will never go away.
CD: Do you approach your music videos differently from your short films?
AS: Good question, but it is no different for me. I listen to the music and let my subconscious take me. If an image from my subconscious says that something is right, it is right!
Much of the video discussed in this article can be found on the Escandalos channel on Youtube.