Just in time to kick off the Halloween season, five HD digitally remastered cult horror classics are coming to the big screen as part of the “Bloody Disgusting Presents Retro Nightmares” Cinema Series. Films screening every Thursday starting on September 27th, 2018 include The House on Sorority Row, Amityville: The Evil Escapes, Amityville: It’s About Time, Sweet Sixteen, and The Convent.
We’re going to talk about the latter film today.
With New Line Cinema’s The Nun kicking the box office’s ass this past weekend, I’ve been seeing a lot of people ask what other “nun-themed” horror films are out there. One of the coolest is Mike Mendez‘s ultraviolent The Convent, his 2000 indie splatter film inspired by Night of the Demons. Screening on October 11th in a special double feature with Sweet Sixteen, The Convent follows a group of college students who break into an abandoned convent and become possessed by demonic spirits.
“I’ve always thought it was a fun slice of silliness,” Mendez tells us when reflecting back on the film. “I’ve always been happy we got to make something so weird. I have no idea if it has aged for better or worse. I guess we’ll find out!”
While the film came out in 2000, it’s actually a product of the 1990’s and feels as such, specifically because of how it was shot.
“It would make sense we shot it in 1999. I just like writing that out, 1999, it sounds so retro-futuristic,” Mendez joked. “I think part of the reason it has that 90’s vibe is cause it was shot on 35mm film. It being shot on film certainly gives it a nostalgic feel that can’t quite be replicated now.”
Reflecting back 18 years later, Mendez also tells us some of the things he loves how his film,
“I like that it’s about demon nuns, long before that became a mainstream thing. I enjoy, it’s lack of cynicism.
“It’s just meant to be fun, like a Halloween party. It’s just a spooky good time.”
One of the coolest aspects of The Convent is the use of blacklights. It’s a unique look that’s never quite been replicated.
“That choice came from my lack of faith in CGI at the time,” he reveals. “A very talented friend of mine, Screaming Mad George, turned me onto these blacklight reactive contact lenses. Since we were going to have the powerful UV lights there for the contacts, it inspired us to start using it in other ways, like the fluorescent blood. It was just something I hadn’t really seen before.”
Outside of Night of the Demons, Mendez lists two other classics as influences.
“Well, I’m still majorly influenced by Evil Dead 2. At the time I recall Lamberto Bava’s Demons being a huge influence as well.”
The film features an appearance by Coolio, and Mendez shares this short, but fun anecdote.
“We hired Coolio through his pot dealer. On set, you could challenge to play him on PlayStation, but it would cost you 5 dollars. If you beat him, he would owe you 5 dollars. True story.”
Time may have forgotten, but The Convent is an independent film and a festival hit that started out of the Sundance Film Festival.
“I remember it being a really fun screening,” remembers Mendez. “The whole festival run for that film was tremendous, to be honest. It kind of spoiled me. My future films had to live up to the festival experiences with The Convent, and often they didn’t.”
In fans getting a chance to experience this on the big screen for the first time:
“I hope they have fun, this was always meant to be a midnight movie and to be seen with a crowd. So I’m super thankful people will get the chance again.”
For the future of the film, Mendez hopes we’ll eventually see a proper Blu-ray release. Hopefully, this screening series will remind people of the cult classic that’s been sitting on their doorstep for the past 18 years.
Tickets are on sale now at www.Retronightmares.com for theaters nationwide with exclusive in-theater content. Bloody Disgusting presents this nationwide event from independent distribution company Multicom Entertainment Group, Inc. and global event cinema leader Trafalgar Releasing.