February 6, 2008 / 6:02 PM / 11 years ago

Monster band Lordi back to roots in horror film

HELSINKI (Reuters Life!) - Finnish monster rock band Lordi bring their stage personas to the silver screen in a horror film premiere near the Arctic circle on Wednesday.

British actress Skye Bennett and Finnish musician Tomi Petteri Putaansuu, dressed as his character of "Mr Lordi", pose on the set of the horror movie "Dark Floors" in Oulu, in this photo taken June 28, 2007. Finnish monster rock band Lordi bring their stage personas to the silver screen in "Dark Floors", showing first in the Finnish town of Oulu on Wednesday night. REUTERS/Bob Strong

The 2006 Eurovision song contest winners, who never appear in public unless they are dressed as an ancient mummy, a vampire countess, a hell bull, an alien manbeast and the heavily made-up Mr. Lordi, play their band characters in “Dark Floors”, showing first in the Finnish town of Oulu on Wednesday night.

“The band’s visual image comes from horror films. Although, there are certain influences from KISS and others, in principle they are monsters from horror films, on stage,” he told Reuters.

Some critics may view the English language film as a vanity project, but Mr. Lordi said that the main intention was to make an entertaining and gory horror flick.

“I’m very satisfied with the film, it looks bloody great. In my opinion it’s one of the best-looking Finnish films ever.”

The 4 million euros ($6 million) movie was made in the American slasher tradition, with a slight nod to Japanese style, the producers said. Mostly British actors play the main characters. The Lordi monsters appear in cameo roles as the evil characters haunting the central protagonists.

The film is set in a hospital which is attacked and time stops, leaving the survivors to come out of an elevator in a parallel reality. They quickly discover that their fate lies in the hands of an autistic girl character, played by 12 year-old Briton Skye Bennett.

“Skye was quite a discovery for us, we will definitely hear more about her,” Pete Riski, who will be unveiling his directorial debut with “Dark Floors”

Riski said he was hoping the film would do well abroad too, as this was one of the reasons to make the film in English, with a non-Finnish main cast.

Finnish film-makers have so far not been well-known internationally, with the exception of eccentric director Aki Kaurismaki, who took the grand prize of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002 for “The Man Without a Past”.

DARK MOOD

The film has a well-crafted visual look and a dark mood, as the main characters wander through the hospital floors, confronted with slashed bodies and the growing recognition of their predicament.

Film buffs have expressed high hopes for the film at online movie websites. But some viewers wondered whether Lordi’s monsters could truly be scary enough after appearing in bright day light and in completely different contexts so many times since their Eurovision win.

“The biggest scare-factor in the films in this genre does not rely on what the evil looks like. It’s about other things,” Mr. Lordi, whose real name is Tomi Putaansuu, said.

“Everyone knows what Freddie Krueger looks like, what Alien looks like, or the monsters in Hellraiser, or Darth Vader.”

But Mr. Lordi said it was amusing that in Finland the band had become a big phenomenon also with families and children after the Eurovision win, something the group was never about.

“It makes me laugh to think that it is the Eurovision winner appearing in the finale of the film. There has been a misconception of us as these ‘nice monsters’. But we haven’t changed, we’ve always been about horror.”

Putaansuu admitted Lordi is a mixed blessing for the film and that some people won’t see it because of Lordi, while some want to see it just because of it.

But both Mr. Lordi and Riski said so far all comments they’d heard about the film were at least cautiously positive.

“This film can give the viewer an equal horror film experience for someone who has never heard of Lordi, and that was the intention to begin with,” Mr. Lordi said.

As a band, Lordi’s strongest European success has been at its Finnish homeland but the band has also done well elsewhere. Last year Lordi toured the United States and Japan.

The band, which performs over-the-top, horror-show theatrics and pyrotechnic-fuelled rock, is set to release a new album at Halloween, Mr. Lordi said.

Reporting by Sami Torma, editing by Paul Casciato

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