Comic book artist turned filmmaker Álex de la Iglesia is one of Spain's biggest talents. With "Acción Mutante", "The Day of the Beast", and "Perdita Durango", he established himself as a distinctive director with a taste for bizarre, grotesque sci-fi horror hybrids. Here he talks about his latest film "La Comunidad", a thriller comedy in the Hitchcock mould.
This film is full of references to other movies, from Hitchcock to Polanski. What was the main inspiration?
Hitchcock is like my mother and Polanski is like my brother. They're part of my family. Their movies are in my head, and so when I try to do something different, I can't.
English critics always compare you to Pedro Almovódar. Does that annoy you?
It doesn't really bother me much because in Spain and the rest of the world, Spanish movies are Almovódar! Pedro produced my first movie and he's a good friend.
You used one of Almovódar's regular actresses, Carmen Maura, in the lead role of Julia...
She was the best actress for the character. And she's really beautiful. You could see it as a brilliant way of dealing with my Oedipus complex as a filmmaker, because Maura is Almovódar's muse, and I stole her away from him!
Julia's a great character, sexy, greedy, yet also sympathetic...
In Hollywood cinema the main character always has to be good so you can identify with them. What I really like about "La Comunidad" is that the heroine is greedy too. That's what the whole movie is about - none of us are completely good. Unfortunately I have a very negative point of view about human behaviour.
Do see your films as opposed to Hollywood cinema, then?
Of course! What I'd really like to do, but I haven't managed yet, is to take one of these rollercoaster blockbuster movies, keep all the action, but take out all the stupid American characters and replace them with bizarre people instead. You know, I always feel envious when I see American movies. It's like being a child watching someone playing with expensive toys. I want to say: "Let me play with them!"
What has happened to your Fu Manchu project with Antonio Banderas and Alan Rickman?
I've always wanted to make this film, but it's really hard to find the money. It's finished, it's not going to happen. My dream project is "Rank Xerox", an Italian comic book from the 80s. It's one of the first punk comics and it's about a 12-year-old nymphomaniac who falls in love with an android. It's got ultra-violence and pornography. But it's one of those impossible projects that as soon as you tell investors, they say no right away. They all want to see it, but none of them wants to make it!