INTERVIEW: DAMIEN LEONE, FRANKENSTEIN VS THE MUMMY


FVSTM_DVD_HIC (1)After watching Image Entertainment’s newest release FRANKENSTEIN VS THE MUMMY, review can be found here, I had the opportunity to interview the man behind it, Damien Leone. Had a lot of fun with it, and hope I didn’t put him off too much by my last question. Enjoy!

I had a lot of fun with FRANKENSTEIN VS THE MUMMY. You handled the writing, directing and editing alone which is a lot on your plate, why the decision to tackle the makeup and effects also?

That’s what probably made the whole thing all the more grueling. Having to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning. It takes about six hours just to make up the monsters. You shoot for twelve hours and then it takes awhile to get them out of the makeup. It’s really difficult, but no one else is gonna do it for that budget, so I do it all, as much as I can!

It paid off. Loved a lot of the work including the makeup on the actual Monster. I thought he looked great!

Aw, thank you! There seem to be polarizing responses to him. He’s such a big departure from the Boris Karloff version that everyone’s used to.

No, I definitely dug it. How awkward was it to have to apply makeup to Constantine’s (the Monster) nude posterior?

(Laughs.) It was one of those things you’ve just got to do! He was actually the most adamant about being naked. Originally, I said “When you’re reanimated, I don’t want you to have clothes on,” but we could put gauze around his lower area. He said no, it makes more sense. The character should be naked! And he wanted a full body shot, so the audience could see that he was naked. So I gave him that one wide shot, where he’s strangling Victor. Every other part of his body was dirty, except his ass. So I had to put some grimy brown makeup on his butt cheeks. (Laughs.)

Why the decision to make Victor the sympathetic character rather than the monster?

Well, honestly, that’s how he’s written in the novel. Before writing the screenplay, I had to read Mary Shelley’s novel. Not to do that would have been sacrilege. And in the novel, he’s a very sympathetic character. And I wanted to stay true to that. And the Monster is always played as the sympathetic Monster, and I wanted to switch that up, making him just a really sadistic, evil, scary character that had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. And I think that made him scarier at the end of the day. Plus I figured that would add to the sympathy for Victor, with his creature being so evil. I wanted to have a character that you really cared about. And with him and Naihla, they are my two heroes, even though Victor is flawed, despite that I think he’s genuinely still a good person. He’s just blinded by his mission in life, causing a lot of tragic consequences. I still wanted them to be the ones that the audience cared about, so I made both monsters straight villains.

I really dug the scene with the conversation about faith and the after life between Naihla and Victor where she full on acuses Victor of being a Satanist, did you do research into Satanism for it?

Yeah, I’ve seen things on Satanism, and not the kind where its as evil as people think, where people are actually worshipping the Devil, it is really just about people believing that Man is God, the Devil, Man is everything that controls us. The duality of Man. More along the atheist point of view where he believes in human potential, whether that is for pure evil or good.

Did you demand proof from Boomer Tibbs that he wasn’t related to Peter Cushing?

As soon as he walked into the casting session, I asked him “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Peter Cushing?” He laughed and said that no one has ever said that to him.

That’s amazing, as that was the first thing that came to my mind when he came on screen. He has a very striking resemblance!

(Laughs.) Yes, a very striking resemblance. And for his role, he was absolutely perfect. He had a perfect face for this movie! I’ve also heard people say that he looks like Richard O’brien from ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.

I didn’t notice until I listened to the commentary, that Robert MacNaughton from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was in it. And he had a pretty vital point in resurrecting the Mummy, which was pretty awesome.
Were you tempted to throw in a teaser line from E.T., having him ask if the curse was maybe an elf or a leprechaun?

Ya know, I never was. I’m not the biggest E.T. fan. I’ve only ever seen it twice in my life. I liked the movie, but it’s not one of the ones where I can recite lines from. If I had known more, I probably would have done something like that. But he is, without a doubt, the nicest person that I’ve ever met! He’s really too nice. He’s such a great guy, plus he shared some pretty cool stories about working with Spielberg, which is pretty amazing.

That’s great, I was just hoping that Naihla would yell out at him “It was nothing like that, penis breath!”

(Laughs.)

Thanks again for doing this interview, and I had a lot of fun with the movie!

Glad that you enjoyed it, man! Thank you!

FRANKENSTEIN VS THE MUMMY is available for DVD and digital download February 10th. 2015!

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