SATANIC HISPANICS' King Zombie Speaks!

Creature actor Morgana Ignis on horror origins and The Hammer of Zanzibar.

By Kalyn Corrigan · @kalyncorrigan · September 15, 2023, 7:00 PM EDT
Satanic Hispanics

In part one of our interview with creature performer Morgana Ignis, we discussed her role in Moon Garden, Brian Henson, and identity. We continue the conversation in part two, discussing Morgana's role in the new Latin horror anthology Satanic Hispanics. Without giving anything away, Morgana dives into what started it all, influences, and her role in Satanic Hispanics opposite Jonah Ray.

Where did your love of horror and all things genre originate? Did something ignite inside you at an early age, or did you develop an affinity later in life?

Honestly, while most people had G.I. Joe figures and superhero figures,I had horror monster figurines. I remember specifically having Alien and Predator toys in my collection. I remember begging my dad to take me to the store to buy different Puppet Master figurines. I was obsessed with those. I was watching films that no child my age should have been anywhere near, but they always interested me. Even dark children's entertainment, like the Beetlejuice animated series, anything that had that dark horror, goth-y edge to it, as a kid, I gravitated towards it. They were the most interesting characters on-screen for me and the ones that, as a kid, I tended to identify the most with. They were the ones I wanted to be friends with. So from the youngest age, I wanted to befriend and get closer to monsters.

How did studying movement as a stop motion animator on shows like Robot Chicken and Moral Orel inform your movement as a creature performer?

That definitely helped a lot. All of the character actors that I grew up admiring, were very physical. Even to this day, I look at actors like Jim Carrey or Aubrey Plaza, and they're all very in touch with their bodies. They all think about a character from the ground up, not just how they are personally, but how this character moves, breathes, walks, and interacts with the world. It's the same quality I bring to the human characters I play, and it just goes further when I play a creature. It's a fun thing to work on before I even get the scripts; I'm just building my character from the ground to the top of my head. Like, where is my center of gravity? How am I moving through the world? How am I interacting with things as this character? It's just an extra level of character-building on top of the script work that an actor usually gets.

Satanic Hispanics, a horror anthology directed by a group of incredibly talented Hispanic filmmakers, is coming out this week, and you appear once again under heavy prosthetics as a creature actor. What can you tell me about this anthology film?

This is going to be the biggest theatrical release I've ever had, and I am so excited. Alejandro Bruges, the director of this film, has done a lot of movies like this that I love. A lot of my career has been a combination of horror and comedy. A lot of my work combines horror and comedy. I love that because the heavy reaction you get from making somebody laugh is as fulfilling as something that makes somebody scream. This anthology is perfect because it switches back and forth between something that has a very serious horror aspect and then a chaser, a palette cleanser, something that is hilarious and comedic, mixed with all these horror elements. Getting to film Satanic Hispanics with my castmate Jonah Ray, doing the fight sequence stuff, and skating that line between horror and comedy while playing it serious in a ridiculous circumstance was so much fun. And the collection of Latin filmmakers they got for this project is a beautiful, incredible variety that makes one of the most well-balanced and enjoyable anthologies I've seen in the genre.

So you're in Alejandro Bruges's segment in Satanic Hispanics. What is the segment called? What can you say to tease your "King Zombie" character?

Oh, I can tell you that it is a very sharp diversion, a very sharp turn from the segment right before it. If you've seen Alejandro's work, you know he goes off the rails with the way that he does horror comedy in a major way. I don't want to give anything away about the character because there is a reason we hear "King Zombie" at the very end of the trailer for Satanic Hispanics, but the reveal of King Zombie and the reveal of a lot of things within this short… I'm so glad the reviewers have been kind, and they've loved it, but they've said— I'm not going to say anything, just go see it. Once it is revealed why this short is called "The Hammer of Zanzibar," that will make your experience.

When you play these creature characters, do you feel enveloped by them? Do you feel like you shed your skin and inhabit that character while you're playing them, or do you still feel like you, inside of that costume?

I try to lose myself in them. Whereas when I'm playing a human character, it is me, plus all these other elements. That is how I think of it, at least, that the character is on the page about eighty percent of the way, but that twenty percent that I add into it, that's why I'm playing her. But with a creature, that's not me at all. That's not my species. That's not how I'm going to walk, how I carry myself. It is completely starting from scratch. I love the artistic and creative challenge of that because I don't want to pull from the same bag of tricks. I don't want to say, well, they probably hired me for this because they saw me in that, so I should do the same thing. I was on a series called Stan Against Evil, in which I played seven different demons over the course of three seasons. It was the ultimate job security because I would die at the end of each episode, get brought back each day in a different makeup, and give them a different performance. Posture, movement, breathing, the sounds I make – all of these elements had to change, and it was a challenge, but it was a fun challenge.

Satanic Hispanics is now playing in theaters.