Interview with Richard Raaphorst, Director of Frankenstein’s Army

I recently reviewed the Blu-Ray of Frankenstein’s Army and really enjoyed it. I was lucky enough to speak to Richard Raaphorst, who is the film’s co-story writer, creature designer, and director.

Richard on the set of Frankenstein's Army.

Richard on the set of Frankenstein’s Army.

Kelsey: Who are your horror movie influences?

Richard: I’m influenced more by music than movies. In movies, the scene is already set and the characters are already doing what the filmmaker wants them to do. Some films leave room for interpretation, but I find music – specifically, instrumental music – helps me be more creative. Without lyrics, the instruments create a mood or feeling, which I can fill in however I like. With the music on, I start to see a scene in my head that I can fill with all kinds of fantastic creatures and stories. Often, I will paint this scene.

Kelsey: What draws you to making horror films?

Richard: In horror movies, I can create fantastical worlds and creatures that would never fit in a romantic comedy or drama film. The limits of reality are stretched so far that there are no limits. I can invent all kinds of worlds and creatures.

Kelsey: What made you choose to make the film in a documentary style – especially since it’s set in 1945?

Richard: I wanted to put the audience on the ground with the soldiers in the film, but also with the zombots. I think putting the camera in the hands of the soldiers – even if it requires the viewer to suspend disbelief – made it a more immersive experience. I mean, people are asked to believe, at least a little bit, that these half-man, half-machine zombots could really exist and chase people around. I hope people will allow me a little flexibility.

Kelsey: Which is your favorite creature in the film? (I personally love Mosquito Man!)

Richard: I really like Propellerhead, because he has a good back story. The man who becomes Propellehead really wanted to fly planes, but was too short to join the service. When he becomes a zombot, he had a whole plane engine for a head…propeller and all! Also, when I was drawing the zombots, I kept drawing and drawing, and the zombots kept getting crazier and crazier. When I drew Propellerhead, I knew I was getting somewhere.

Kelsey: What were some of the challenges of making Frankenstein’s Army?

Richard: Trying to use practical effects whenever possible.

Kelsey: Frankenstein’s Army seemed to be completely practical effects, which I found awesome. What are your feelings on practical effects vs. CGI?

Richard: In Frankenstein’s Army, I wanted to use as many practical effects as possible because I think it adds to the mood of the film. CGI is wonderful because it expands what is possible in movies, but it looks too clean to me. I insisted on as many practical effects as possible, so we had to do long shots and be extra careful that no equipment or crew members ended up in the shots.

Kelsey: Nerdy but Flirty focuses on the role of women in popular culture. The role of women in Frankenstein’s Army was quite small (because of the time period and setting, I assume). What are your thoughts on the role of women in the horror genre?

Richard: Women definitely have a role in movies – horror movies and all others. But often in horror movies, they are cast to give the film some sex appeal, and I despise it. In zombie films, women often end up half-naked with a machine gun, so it seems they are being exploited. Except for George Romero. I think he created a believable heroine in Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. In Frankenstein’s Army, Eva had a very short role because it was a war movie and war is a man’s world. It was also set during WWII, so it did have something to do with the time period. On a planet ruled by women, I think war would be completely absent. When I think of a brutal bloody war, I don’t often see women in the scene.

Thank you very much to Richard for speaking with me! Check out Frankenstein’s Army on Blu-RayDVD, instant video, and in select theaters!

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