King Kong vs. Godzilla. Alien vs. Predator. Batman vs. Superman. Now we have Sherlock Holmes vs Frankenstein to add to the list of awesome crossover movies. If the name alone doesn’t get you hyped, nothing ever will.
Director Gautier Cazenave talks us through what to expect.
Sherlock Holmes. vs Frankenstein. With a name like that you can’t really go wrong. How did such an awesome idea come about?
Believe it or not, the initial project was “Zorro vs Sherlock Holmes”. But I couldn’t find a way to make it worthwhile, the characters were bound to team up at some point and there was no antagonist who could match such a pair.
And one day, lightning struck: “Sherlock Holmes vs Frankenstein”. The outline of the plot popped into my head in less than an hour, and it retains a lot of the ideas I had for “Zorro vs Sherlock Holmes” (including a love triangle, father-son issues, etc).
What kind of incarnations of the characters can we expect? Will there be an older pipe smoking version of Holmes or a more badass action hero?
Holmes and Watson are in their mid-40s, they’re living together again after the death of Watson’s wife. So they’re far from senile, but they’re already “old” friends at that point. And they will both smoke pipes AND kick ass.
And will Frankenstein’s monster be a mindless creature or something more menacing?
The monster will be a mysterious figure that will be revealed gradually. He’s definitely dangerous!
Was getting the rights to the characters an issue?
Both Sherlock Holmes and Frankenstein are in the public domain. There have been a few lawsuits surrounding the character of Holmes lately, but nothing in the script is adapted from an existing story, so no problem here.
How exactly do they cross paths?
Holmes and Watson have both read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which is only a book as far as they’re concerned. But they will discover the existence of the real Frankenstein family, and of a monster who kills people in the area of Castle Frankenstein.
Both Holmes and Frankenstein’s monster were featured in Hammer movies, were they a particular inspiration?
I’m a huge Hammer fan and Peter Cushing admirer – he’s one of those actors who can make ANY movie good just by being in it. So I’d like to recapture some of the elegance and the spirit of those movies, but “Sherlock Holmes vs Frankenstein” will not strictly replicate the Hammer style, it will be a bit more tongue-in-cheek and have a more modern pace. Hammer wasn’t really into crossovers anyway, I think the only one they did was the excellent Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde, which mixed the stories of Jekyll and Jack the Ripper. By the way, another inspiration for “Sherlock Holmes vs Frankenstein” is “A Study in Terror”, where John Neville played a fantastic Sherlock Holmes on the trail of Jack the Ripper.
How are you re-creating 1898?
There’s this great castle in Belgium called Reinhardstein, where we will film a good chunk of the movie. And there are nice places in the area that will be perfect for the inn, the streets of Darmstadt, etc. It’s supposed to be a small town, so we won’t be recreating 19th century buildings from scratch, for example. The story will begin in Baker Street, but the interior decoration for that will be entirely lended by the French Sherlock Holmes Society.
We’re also working with french costume designer Pierre-Jean Larroque, who specializes in period pieces and won an Emmy award for his work on the TV series “Napoleon”. He also designed the costumes for the 2003 movie version of “Arsène Lupin”.
Would you call the film a straight out horror or more of a detective story?
It’s a detective story where the killer is a man-made monster, and the mad scientist has to be unmasked! So the audience will have to figure out who’s working on secret experiments at night, and from time to time a character will get his head ripped off. A bit like Wes Craven’s Scream in a 19th century setting, if you like.
On the Indiegogo page you list some of the supporting crew, but any word on who the two title characters will be played by?
On the Frankenstein side, the real-life Baron Clement von Franckenstein will play the Baron Karl, based on… his grandfather. Karl has two sons, Clemens and Georg, who are in their 20s in the story. Georg will later become the father of our actor Clement (so you could almost say the script is inspired by true events!). Then there’s the monster of course, and there’s the mad scientist who may or may not be one of the Frankensteins.
Holmes and Watson, on the other hand, are not yet cast. We have several names in mind, but in the end it will depend on final budget and filming schedule. I don’t want to promise names until I’m sure, so it has to remain a mystery right now. But if we raise a huge sum right now with the crowdfunding campaign, we could start securing dates and lead actors, and announcing them!
You will film in Belgium, what kind of experience will that be?
Belgian people are great. People will tell you they are like the French, without the bad temper and the arrogance. We will film near the German border, which will allow to have a germanic-looking architecture and forest, without having to deal with a third language on set (English and French will be enough, thank you).
I must tip my hat to Belgian actor Eric Godon, who will play the innkeeper and was a driving force in location scouting. He’s one of the go-to actors for English-speaking films made in Belgium (In Bruges with Colin Farell, The Expatriate with Aaron Eckhart).
When can we expect to see Sherlock Holmes vs. Frankenstein?
If crowdfunding is successful, we will film the first scenes in September and assemble the rest of the budget for a Spring/Summer 2016 shoot. Which means, with post-production, that the film could realistically be ready for Christmas 2016.