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An Interview with Ricardo Islas, Director of Frankenstein: Day of the Beast

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2011

Ricardo Islas on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Frankenstein: Day of the Beast - in a few words, what is it about?


It's a day in the life of the characters created by Mary Shelley. Instead of following the full story, I picked one of the highlights of the novel, the wedding day, and made a movie about it.


Mary W.Shelley's Frankenstein had already been filmed countless times before Frankenstein: Day of the Beast. What convinced you to try your hands on the novel nevertheless? And are there any past adaptations of the book that influenced your film?


I have always wanted to make Gothic classic horror; the only reason I hadn't so far was because I didn't think I could produce them right. As I've grown older and less afraid of "career moves", I decided to give it a try... and I'm very happy I did. My partner John Vitiritti had a lot to do with me jumping into this adventure, by him stating he would build the sets for me. Sets were one of the key no-nos why I hadn't tried this before. Also wardrobe, but Anna Glowacki solved that for me too. So having sets, wardrobe, and a great cast... why not?

As far as influences, it wasn't really in movies that I found inspiration, as much as in comics. Stan Lee's Monster of Frankenstein comic published in the seventies was my main source of inspiration for this approach to Mary Shelley's classic.


Other than most other adaptations, Frankenstein: Day of the Beast puts its emphasis almost exclusively on the finale of Mary W.Shelley's Frankenstein and shows only limited interest in the actual creation of the monster, usually the highlight of any adaptation. To put it bluntly, why?


Realistically, from the get go (meaning when I wrote the script), I knew I could not afford to produce the whole story. So I picked up the novel (which I had read when I was a teenager) and re-read it looking for highlights to produce on a low budget format. I thought of different options: The creation (so the whole movie would move around the lab), the cabin with the blind man (which almost became the whole movie, but finally I decided to shoot it as an introductory short story), the hunt in the artic with the wrecked ship (would have loved to make this movie, but wouldn't have been able to produce it right), and finally the one that I ended up choosing: the wedding day. So that was the process, and basically by elimination of the most expensive ones, I ended up choosing the wedding day, with a few flashbacks to the lab and the blind man's cabin.


Also, Frankenstein: Day of the Beast puts a focus on Frankenstein's fiancée Elizabeth, a character that remains pale in both the book and most adaptations. What fascinated you about her, and a few words about your Elizabeth, Michelle Shields [Michelle Shields interview - click here]?


Michelle Shields

You are right, Elizabeth has always been dull in the book and movies. My interest in Elizabeth is not so much in her, as it is in Mary Shelley, who I have always found fascinating. So my Elizabeth is actually Mary Shelley, with some of her feminist mother. I think that women make better antagonists for monsters. Men are usually too cerebral and therefore dull heroes, while women bring this wonderful mix of fragility and passion. A seven feet tall monster versus a very young girl creates that wonderful David vs. Goliath model that always works.

I auditioned Michelle Shields along with other talented actresses, however she excelled. There was something intelligent about her performance, a resourcefulness that was exactly what I was looking for the character. On set, she turned out to be a trooper, which in physical movies like this is always key.


Adam Stephenson, Tim Krueger

What can you tell us about your depiction of the Frankenstein-character and about Frankenstein-actor Adam Stephenson?


I used to joke during the process of creating the movie, especially during pre-production, that I was Victor Frankenstein creating the monster... and it wasn't so much of a joke really. I feel like I totally understand Victor. His obsessive attitude towards completing his work. Adam and I had conversations about this, some in person, some via e-mail. He got the character right on target. Unlike the novel though, where Victor ends up turning into an impotent man, our Victor fights to the end. The only little twist that we added as we went forward with the shoot is that Adam's Victor might (just might) be using his own fiancée as a bait to conclude his epic war against his own creature. When we talked about this angle, it kind of changed it all. It's like Victor knows something the audience knows, but everybody else ignores. That makes it interesting to either side by him throughout the movie or to hate him for what he's done...


The actions of your monster reminded me a bit of guerilla-warfare. Was this at all intended, and what can you tell us about your monster as such and its actor Tim Krueger? And a few words about the monster's design and makeup?


Tim Krueger

As I said before, Stan Lee's rendition on the monster has "haunted" me since my childhood. An enormous creature, odd looking, brute, extremely strong that destroys almost anything it touches. Many times comic characters don't translate right on screen. The Hulk (which is also inspired by Frankenstein) turned into a green cartoon once Hollywood took it to the big screen. So I was a little nervous about what I was trying to do. It had to do with design, but also with acting. I had met Tim Kruger when we acted together in an indie film. He was playing a bodyguard for a mobster, and I was playing a guy who wanted to come onto his property. So he had to sort of manhandle me. I thought back then "if I ever make a Frankenstein movie, this is the guy"... He also has a wonderful voice, which I immediately noticed too. Let me tell you that all the monster's growling that you hear in the movie is Tim's voice with a slight pitch change. He did an amazing job with the creature. We talked a lot about the character. How different it was from the other monsters we are used to seeing. There is nothing human about our creature, except for its lust maybe. He does want Elizabeth... But there is something else, something that comes from the script. Victor says: I succeeded in re-animating tissue but can we call that life? The theory behind our Frankenstein is that the scientist opened the door to something else, but our creature might be (just might be), possessed by some evil entity that is the actual life-force that moves it. Almost as if the devil was waiting for humans to reach that point in which they would play god and create artificial life, so HE could take over and invade that form of life... Twisted, and it was in our minds all the time while we played with our monster. 

From the design point-of-view, we tried to find a logic for his look... he keeps his bandages on for the duration of the film (why would he change his clothes when he was so inhuman?), but as weather gets colder (the movie starts in the snowy mountains) he gets a furry vest on him (some bear or wolves he probably hunted and ate). And no... no volts on the neck...


Even though I would rate Frankenstein: Day of the Beast as more of a character-based movie, there are quite a few pretty violent and gory scenes. What can you tell us about the gore efffects, and how important do you consider gore for your film and the horror genre in general?


A horror movie without violence and gore is like a western without horses and guns. Yes, we do have violence and gore in this movie. I like realism, even more when we are dealing with a Gothic piece that can be almost fairy-talish if we don't play it hardcore. John Vitiritti has done special effects for my movies for years; we met on Night Fangs in 2004 and ever since then we have worked together on every project. We both knew Frankenstein needed special attention, and we gave it to it. There's a lot of broken bones and impaling, etc, etc. I cut fast when it comes to violence, and sound does the rest. When it comes to violence, even when we work on a low budget, I believe there are some areas that need to be taken care of as professionally as possible. For that reason, I called Brian Connelly from Asylum Stunts (with whom also I have worked since Night Fangs), and his wonderful team provided safe and yet very violent stunts that elevated the production value of the film.


As far as I know, Frankenstein: Day of the Beast has so far only had a few public screenings. What can you tell us about audience and critical reaction so far?


I don't think we have exposed it enough as to have a good feeback yet. So far, from the two showings, the reaction seems to be very good. The projectionist from the theater told me: "I didn't see anyone looking at their cellphones; that's a good thing"... People seem to be respond physically to the scares by jumping on their seats, which is always nice to see from the back row where I always sit during premieres. As far as reviews, I really cannot complain. Recently one said: "The best Frankenstein movie in years"... not bad at all, really.


The $64-question of course: When will Frankenstein: Day of the Beast be released to the general public, tentatively?


So far, Germany has gotten it for DVD, and there are other 6 countries interested from Europe and Asia. As far as America, it might be another half year at least before anything massive happens.


Let's go back all the way to the beginning of your career: What got you into making movies in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?


As a kid I wasn't really thinking of making movies. I wanted to draw comics for a living when I grew up. But in the seventies, it wasn't easy to get published in South America; there was no internet, no way to really show what you were doing. I even created a werewolf comic strip in episodes that I would sell in highschool. I would get enough money to pay for photocopies and a snack. I also tried writing novels; I wrote two horror novels, but never had the money to publish them. So, as crazy as it sounds, I found that writing a script and taking to a local TV station ended up being easier than publishing. So at age 16 I directed my first half hour movie that aired in March 1986. From that point on, I kept making at least one movie a year until now. As you can imagine, I'm self taught. I never went to film school.


As far as I know, you originally come from Uruguay and have made a handful of movies back there before moving to the USA. What can you tell us about these movies, and in what way does making movies in Uruguay differ from making movies in the USA?


Making movies is not so different really. The process is hard when you don't have much money, and that hasn't really changed much just for being in America. What was quite different was distribution. I would finish a movie, have lunch with a distributor, and a few months down the road I would collect my checks. Period. Here... it's quite more complicated than that... middle men take lion's shares... or they don't share at all.


I'd like you to say a few words about a handful of movies I've picked (a bit randomly) from your filmography:



A very primitive movie. It was my first feature length and I wasn't sure what I was doing.


Headcrusher/Broken Skull?


It was my first "cross-over," making a movie in English. I don't think I did a very good job at directing actors, and also I posted it in Adobe Premiere 99 version. My PC was so slow that I couldn't see video in real time, so I edited almost as if it was film, looking at stills... crazy. Some people like this movie because it's outrageous. I'm not happy with it.


Haciendo el Amor Brujo?


It was my first comedy in feature length form. People say I'm good at comedy and I should do more... but I like horror better.


Night Fangs?


Lesbian vampires... can't go wrong with that.




Artsy and dark film about a guy who loses his minds when he's fired from his job. A French critic said it was a masterpiece... and no, we are not related.


Zombie Farm?


A good script in Spanish that producers forced into English... Kind of got lost in translation. It works as what it is: a supernatural thriller with comedy. But, like so many times in America, producers wanted to make quick money and are trying to sell it as a zombie movie. They even changed the title. Zombie Farm was meant to be called Macumba, which means voodoo in Spanish... Now if you love zombie movies, you want to see a bunch of.. .well... zombies eating people's brains. Zombie Farm is not about that at all. It's about a scam-healer that happens to face a zombie as the monster of the week. It's actually a pilot for a TV series in the style of the Night Stalker. It was always meant to be that... so there is rightfully some dissappointment from those zombie lovers who spend their money on the wrong package. I don't even like zombie movies myself...


Any other films of yours you'd like to talk about?


Not really, maybe you can skip this one... :)


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I'm still feeling my way around Frankenstein: Day of the Beast and the response of the audiences and market to it. So far, I'm pretty sure I'm going to go forward with classics, in which case yes... Dracula and the Mad Men of God might be next.


Your films seem to never stray too far from the horror genre. Is horror a genre especially dear to you, and why?


There's a short answer to this question: I like to produce what I like to see. Sometimes I feel like seeing a movie that doesn't exist (like a Frankenstein-movie where the monster is a brute killer), and I end up making it myself.


Feeling lucky?
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x-rated  find Ricardo Islas at

Your favourite horror writers?


Still Stephen King.


Directors who inspire you?


Federico Fellini, Kubrick, Coppola, Scorcesse, Hitchcock


Your favourite movies?


Amarcord, The French Connection - really I don't have one favorite movie, but these two stand out for sure... Oh... Clockwork Orange... love that one.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


Van Helsiiiiing! CGI horses? Seriously?


Your website, Facebook, whatever else?


Yes, look for me/us in facebook. It's just my name.


Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Do I like Hammer Films? They are the BEST!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.


There's No Such Thing as Zombies
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry


directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke


now streaming at


Amazon UK





Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from