Monday, April 6, 2020

Interview of Juan Diaz, aka El Sapo Blanco

Juan Diaz is a talented filmmaker who has a passion for for bringing a bygone era back to us. His creation of the El Sapo Blanco superhero is a throwback to the El Santo wrestling hero (luchador) from the Mexican B movies of the 1950s. The hero isn't politically correct, confident, macho, and always victorious. Mr. Diaz was kind enough to take a few moments to speak to me and be interviewed on Zisi Emporium for B Movies.
CJZ:  El Sapo Blanco is such a neat character.  Did your love for the Mexican wrestling hero, or his films inspire it?
Juan Diaz: Thank you. I grew up watching the old "El Santo"/ "Blue Demon"/ "Mil Mascaras" movies. It was fascinating to me how they were always called by the authorities or scientists to help solve a case, or destroy a monster or two.  What made them so special? Because they were Luchadors.

CJZ: Today's wrestling fans probably have no concept of the Santo or Sampson or The Angel. They're understanding of wrestling is the WWE or Vince McMahon's modern creation. Santo's masked wrestler inspired something more pristine. I his brand of masked wrestler/matinee idol/superhero gone forever?
Juan Diaz: I think there was an honor in these Luchadors, akin to the Samurai. They brought the violence when necessary but always maintained honor.  I consider El Sapo on par  with the likes of Flash Gordon, and The Phantom, etc.  Matinee idols that ruled television, the airwaves (radio plays), and theaters (cliffhangers and serials) back in the 40s and 50s.

CJZ: El Sapo is a matinee idol/B movie hero trapped in working/middle class America... does he have a driving maxim? Or what propels him to fight evil mad-scientists, monster bugs, and aliens?
Juan Diaz: El Sapo Blanco's mindset is, "it's the right thing to do." He has proudly taken the mantle of doing what is right. If that means fighting monsters, or evil scientists, then so be it. He doesn't do it for the glory, either. He doesn't want credit. He just wants to fight evil.

CJZ:  Those evil bugs, monsters, and aliens are so finely captured in special effects. Their introduction into El Sapo Blanco videos serve to make the masked hero larger than life. Talk about those special f/x and how intricate they are in the production of your videos.
Juan Diaz: The special effects help me bring the creatures/foes to life. Because the budget is so low, I utilize special effects apps (FX Guru, MovieRide FX, Action Movie FX, etc.) as well as green screen. Of course, El Santo's old movies used practical effects, but I feel I bring the spirit of those films even though the creatures are more modernized. Also, I like to imagine how would El Santo  deal with bugs, or giant worms as those things were not so prevalent in his films.

CJZ: We've seen El Sapo Blanco's tender side, especially with his kids. Is there romance or a sultry babe in store for him?
Juan Diaz: El Sapo loves children. He's taken an infant under his wing, Prince Jaxxston (from alien slugworms), because he is the sole heir to the Xan Empire and the child has no one else. Very similar to "The Lone Wolf and Cub" films. There is romance in El Sapo's future.

CJZ: What kind of budget do these videos have? Are we talking akin to "Jurassic Park" or more like that of purchasing a comic book?
Juan Diaz: The budgets are zero budgeted. Just time and passion. I literally use my iPhone to shoot, edit, and add f/x. I also compose most of the music. I use my voice to add some of the sound effects, as well. I also recycle old footage from El  Sapo's previous adventures (a la Roger Corman or Lloyd Kaufman).

CJZ: El Sapo Blanco seems to be a target. Are you thinking of giving him a cape to fly to other places to find monsters, more mad-scientists, or maybe other planets?
Juan Diaz: El Sapo has flown to other planets and dimensions, but he knows he has a problem magnet as he knows evildoers will try to dispatch him. He has no real secret identity and its widely known where he lives, so he just waits for trouble to come to his doorstep. The world he lives in is not our world. Its an alternate world where monsters exist.

CJZ: What inspired you to reach back to the 1950s Mexico in order to give us your masked fighter of evil? Have you been able to connect with many fans of those old Mexican films?
Juan Diaz: I felt those old 50s movies had innocence in them. That's why my movies really don't have nudity, sex, nor foul language. It's not that they're kid friendly, but its more because those old films didn't have to use those elements. Just fun stories and good action. I sincerely hope fans of those old films can enjoy my films, but I make these films for anyone to enjoy, regardless if the viewer knows of  Mexican cinema or Luchador movies.
CJZ: Selfishly speaking (hey, I'm a guy), Santo always rescues sultry babes clad in white negligees... will we see any of that with El Sapo Blanco?
Juan Diaz: El Sapo feels like he saves everybody, so he doesn't believe in concentrating on sultry babes, but hey, who knows?

CJZ: If an A-list director offered you millions for the rights to El Sapo Blanco and gave you control of the cast, who would play the masked hero, who would be the lead villain, and yes... who would be the damsel in distress?
Juan Diaz: I would use Liam Neeson as the lead, as I envision El Sapo Blanco as an aging, retired Luchador, who found his calling in fighting evil late in life. He's a broken man. He's had numerous injuries from his many matches, thereby retired. The villain would have to be Paul Reubens, as the nefarious Dr. Fantom, the mastermind behind all of the attacks. Fantom is trying to wear El Sapo down because he knows he can't best him one on one. The damsel would be Tina Fey as El Sapo's physical therapist/love interest. The film would be played straight and letting the humor come out of the situations. Think of films like "Machete," "From Dusk to Dawn," "Toxic Avenger," "The Mask of Zorro," "Planet Terror," and "Danger Diabolik." That sort of irreverent spirit and action.

NOTE FROM CJZ: Recent YouTube videos from El Sapo Blanco have indeed put our hero into outer space.
Juan Diaz demonstrates an inanity with a purpose in his videos. As an example, take a look at The Invisible Man Returns as an example of a dry wit while conveying the nonchalance of the famous 1950s era luchador. The story is humorous, B cinema (all the way), and filled with homage to a bygone era of horror and adventure. The cheesy special f/x are precious and the confidence and bravado exhibited by El Sapo Blanco perfectly captures the 1950s hero...and perhaps, in some sense, makes us all long for this type of hero in our era of milquetoast metrosexual heroes.

To see dozens more videos of the aforementioned hero see and subscribe to his YouTube channel by clicking this link: ZBudget Director

1 comment: