The 22nd Annual Austin Film Festival

The Rise and Fall of Monsterman

Doc follows a metalhead with Peter Pan Syndrome


There's something magical about Rovaniemi, and it's not just because the Finnish city is the official home of Santa Claus. When Antti Haase was growing up there in the Eighties, he played superheroes with a neighborhood kid called Tomi Putaansuu. They lost contact as teenagers, and the adult Haase became a documentarian. Then he got an unexpected phone call: Putaansuu was now Mr. Lordi, the mask-wearing frontman of theatrical hard rockers Lordi, and he wanted Haase to chronicle his band's comeback from the financial and creative abyss. Haase said, "He is the ultimate heavy metal Peter Pan."

Monsterman shows Lordi during the low after a very bizarre high. In 2006, the horror-loving band won the Eurovision Song Contest, and they were international stars. But imagine Slipknot appearing on American Idol: The general audience got over the novelty, and the die-hard fans never forgave the betrayal. This meant Haase risked telling the story of a man who fails, and fails again. Yet even as the band comes back from the brink, Haase said, "It is amazing what Tomi is willing to sacrifice to be the best and most 'real' heavy metal monster in the world. ... Tomi's character has a tragic undertone, no matter how successful he is."

Putaansuu is a seeming contradiction: a deeply private man who relishes the spotlight – as long as he's wearing his mask. Haase said, "Tomi insisted that I cannot show his real face in the film, to preserve the mystery of the monster band. For a long time I struggled with the question: How do you make a film if you can't show your main character's face?" What followed was a bizarre negotiation, including exchanging 360-degree pictures of Putaansuu's head to determine how much of a partial profile was too much for the screen. Haase said, "I worked extra hard with the crew to develop visual and aural aesthetics to create intimacy with Tomi, since we don't see his face. In the end, I think we turned this challenge into the film's advantage."

Yet, for all the production headaches, Haase described Putaansuu's elaborately crafted fantasy as something to be cherished. "I am glad that we have characters like Tomi in the world, reminding us boring adults about the power of childhood and fantasy worlds."


Sunday, Nov. 1, 9:15pm, Hideout Theatre; Tuesday, Nov. 3, noon, Alamo Village


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Austin Film festival 2015
UT's Radio-TV-Film Program Hits the Half-Century Mark
UT's Radio-TV-Film Program Hits the Half-Century Mark
Department celebrates with student showcase screening

Caitlin Moore, Oct. 30, 2015

More by Richard Whittaker
What’cha Watchin’?
What’cha Watchin’?
Screens editor Richard Whittaker is all about that (Disney) park life

Feb. 26, 2021

Safer at Home
Screen life thriller is just another dull Zoom meeting

Feb. 26, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Monsterman, Austin Film Festival 2015, Tomi Putaansuu, Lordi

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle