Nederhorror & scifi
20 juli 2018


Nemesis NETHERHORROR | Yesterday the trailer for OVERLORD was released, a new horror film produced by J.J. Abrams. The trailer immediately reminded us of the Dutch film FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY. Director Richard Raaphorst tells us that the similarities are even greater than they appear at first glance.

(Nederlandstalige versie lezen? Klik hier.)

In OVERLORD (in Dutch theaters from November 8) a group of American soldiers in the Second World War ends up behind enemy lines, where they discover secret Nazi experiments: ‘The source of evil’, according to the trailer. ‘For a Thousand Year army you need Thousand Year soldiers.’

Sounds like an exciting horror flick, though the big boom of Nazi (zombie) horror has blown over by now. OVERLORD’s trailer feels a lot like CALL OF DUTY, one of our readers mentioned, and it clearly also brings to mind the game WOLFENSTEIN. Still, most striking are the similarities with the ‘Netherhorror’ (i.e. Dutch horror film) FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY (2013). The plot is almost identical. In the trailer for OVERLORD we see a group of American solders search a village and a laboratory; in FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY the soldiers are Russian. In OVERLORD they find something scary moving in a bag; in FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY they discover biomechanical monsters.

‘Maybe it’s obvious,’ says Richard Raaphorst when we call to ask him about it. ‘It could also just be the zeitgeist.’ Of course, it is possible that it’s just a coincidence and we can’t completely dismiss that OVERLORD – despite Abrams’ denial – could be the fourth installment in the CLOVERFIELD series. But as we continue talking to Raaphorst, the coincidence turns out to be an even greater one.

‘Five years ago,’ says Raaphorst, ‘immediately after the release of FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY, we were working on a ‘reboot’. Kieran Parker (Black Camel Pictures) had found a financer who was interested in starting a ten million dollar project. We thought: the people behind OUTPOST and the maker of FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY will do a soft ‘reboot’ of FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY. It was a rather commercial project, using fan bases of both films. We were joined by a writer from Los Angeles, who was going to invest in a first draft of the screenplay. We worked on it for a year and I supported it with some sketches. But when we tried to make changes to the script, that guy said: “no fucking way”. So we said: give us the screenplay, we’ll take it from here and make sure you get paid for the work you did. Well, that didn’t happen. He immediately started to threaten us with lawsuits. It all became very unpleasant. So I thought: I guess the project is dead, now… (laughs) but it has returned after all these years!’

See for yourself. Here are some of the (never before published) storyboard sketches Raaphorst made for the planned ‘reboot’ of FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY. The similarities with the first part of the trailer for OVERLORD are striking.

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‘I have a million sketches like this,’ says Raaphorst. ‘An entire book. I also drew a bag like that, with someone in it. I think I designed a complete factory with a whole lot of those bags. In four years I haven’t heard anything from that American screenwriter, but it’s almost as if the script fell into the wrong hands.’

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Raaphorst has never spoken with credited OVERLORD writers Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith, but even the movie’s more supernatural approach seems familiar. ‘In FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY we had biomechanical creations, but the script for our ‘reboot’ was closer to INDIANA JONES. They discovered a temple and acquired a kind of power of invincibility through a blood sacrifice. Afterwards we added those metal body extensions, but the basis for the reboot was supernatural. The new working title was NEMESIS: some kind of ancient evil that becomes invincible when combined with an army.’

Is Raaphorst taking any steps? ‘No, there’s no point. You don’t know if it is really not just a coincidence, and besides: you can’t beat an entire army of Hollywood lawyers.’

Raaphorst recently founded the Mad Scientist Movement, a creative collective trying to steer far away from this kind of hassle, while developing horror films in a new way. So fortunately, the director doesn’t sound discouraged in the least. Just before we end the conversation, he laughingly shouts into the telephone: ‘Story of my life!’

Copyright: Barend de Voogd. Online date of publication: July 20th, 2018.

© Barend de Voogd
20 juli 2018

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