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Exclusive Pics, Q&A: Loris Curci & Sofia Rakova talk “HAVANA DARKNESS”

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Loris Curci has been making waves in the horror industry for well over a decade producing films and documentaries such as SUSPIRIA: 25TH ANNIVERSARY, BEYOND THE LIVING DEAD, ZONE OF THE DEAD, and 11-11-11. Now, in his most recent efforts, Curci has produced the first horror flick in Cuba to be shot in English, HAVANA DARKNESS. Slated for a release in March of 2017, HAVANA DARKNESS follows three friends who journey to Havana, Cuba to investigate the origins of a manuscript written by Ernest Hemingway. Unfortunately, terror ensues and the three friends must fight to survive through maze horror beyond their imagination. In between post production of HAVANA DARKNESS and his latest film NIGHTWORLD staring Jason London and Robert Englund, Loris and collaborator Sofia Rakova took some time to answer a few questions about this history-making film.

FANGORIA: At its core, what is HAVANA DARKNESS about?

LORIS CURCI: I would easily put it as “be careful what you wish for.” This pretty much sums it up. When our hero, Carlos, accidentally stumbles into a manuscript that he thinks will somehow give him the motivations he’s been looking for, that is when HAVANA DARKNESS changes gear. His discovery kicks off a dramatic series of events. Our characters venture into a mysterious land that will bring them face to face with the very essence of evil.

FANG: How was it that you came about coming on as a producer for this film?

CURCI: I was filming a movie called THE GHOSTS OF GARIP in Istanbul, Turkey. One of the lead actors was Guillermo Ivan, who also happens to be a very talented director. He told me about a film that he had shot in Cuba, a drama, and then we came up with the idea of doing a horror film in Havana. I mean, who’s ever thought of that! So I had this story that I had been working on, and then Guillermo suggested we introduce the Hemingway element. After all, Ernest Hemingway had lived in Cuba for 10 years and it is said that some of the stuff he wrote was actually never published. It seemed like the perfect start for the plot I had in mind. I have produced quite a number of horror films but I must say I am particularly proud of HAVANA…

FANG: This is the Cuban horror film to be shot in English. Was that something that intrigued you about this project?

CURCI: It is indeed. And that is one of the reasons why a company like Open Frames (I produced NIGHTWORLD with them) decided to step in and co-finance the film. Given the new social and political scenario that has opened in the last couple of years, this seemed like a fantastic opportunity to tell a story in a place that people know very little about. We were well aware that we were the first ones shooting a horror film on the island, and this just added to the excitement.

FANG: Why was the decision made to use English as the main language instead of Spanish?

CURCI: The film is in English because the three characters that we follow throughout the movie are in fact American. HAVANA DARKNESS starts in New York and introduces us to three friends. One of them, Carlos, proposes to travel to Havana to investigate a mysterious manuscript supposedly written by Hemingway and…well, things go wrong. Very wrong. In any case, when our leads interact with locals, in Cuba, the language shifts to Spanish, at least partly.

FANG: How hands on were you during the process of filming?

CURCI: Oh, I followed it from the very beginning. As I said, the story is actually mine, although I do admit that producer Magi Halvadjian and Guillermo, who is also one of the leads in the movie, brought in lots of ideas and actually contributed heavily to the script written by Barry Keating. I was on set everyday and am now supervising the post production. We plan to have the film ready by March of next year.

FANG: What about HAVANA DARKNESS are you most proud?

CURCI: Well, for starters, it’s the very first US/Bulgarian co-production of a feature film. And we went to shoot it in Cuba, nonetheless. The two companies behind this film, Open Frames and Golden Ceiba Productions, believed in the concept and were very supportive all along. We had a good plot, good actors, solid production value and I think we have created a villain that the horror fans will dig. In particular, I’d like to point out the masks that our FX artist created and designed.

When asked about the sinister masks used in HAVANA DARKNESS, Curci let SFX artist Sofia Rakova take the lead on that subject. Rakova has also worked with Curci on NIGHTWORLD staring Robert Englund and Jason London as well as creating special makeup effects for WRONG TURN 6: LAST RESORT.

FANG: Where did the inspiration for the masks used in HAVANA DARKNESS stem from?

SOFIA RAKOVA: When I was asked to design a mask for the film, my aim was to visualize the evil that the villains portray. These people play with their victims, and enjoy doing so. That explains why the masks they are wearing seem to be smiling. These guys are having fun!

FANG: And what kind of fun are they having in the film?

RAKOVA: They follow some sick ritual and all this happens in an abandoned mansion somewhere in old Havana, in Cuba. I researched Cuban mythology and found info on some obscure sect that was performing “Santeria”. Their ceremonies included animal sacrifice, blood sharing and some sinister dance. They used creepy voodoo dolls and my idea was to make those dolls look alive; hence the masks and their deadly smile.

Make sure to read our review on HAVANA DARKNESS coming this Spring. Until then, check out some exclusive pictures from the film below!

About the author
Adam Lee Price
Adam Lee Price has an intense love of horror films and has since being a child. This love of horror has led him to focus on a career in writing films for the next generation of genre fans. Adam has recently completed writing his first feature length horror screenplay entitled THE MASQUERADE. Now, he looks forward to the next chapter of his life working alongside great writers in the horror industry and at FANGORIA Magazine.
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