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,
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?
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.
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]?
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?
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
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
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,
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?
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.
$64-question of course: When will Frankenstein:
Day of the Beast be released to the general public, tentatively?
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.
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?
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.
like you to say a few words about a handful of movies I've picked (a bit
randomly) from your filmography:
very primitive movie. It was my first feature length and I wasn't sure
what I was doing.
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?
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.
Lesbian vampires... can't go wrong with that.
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
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
Not really, maybe you can skip this one... :)
Any future projects you'd like to share?
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.
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.
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results?
The links below
will take you
Your favourite horror
Still Stephen King.
Directors who inspire you?
Fellini, Kubrick, Coppola, Scorcesse, Hitchcock
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
Helsiiiiing! CGI horses? Seriously?
Your website, Facebook, whatever else?
look for me/us in facebook. It's just my name.
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I like Hammer Films? They are the BEST!
for the interview!