Back in 2012, Finnish filmmaker Timo Vuorensola gave the world Iron Sky, the batshit B-movie with the eye-catching concept of “Nazis on the moon led by Udo Kier.” Now, Iron Sky: The Coming Race takes things to another level of high concept madness as heroine Obi (Lara Rossi) has to head to the centre of the earth to save humanity, dodging dinosaurs, double-crossing Steve Jobs-worshipping weirdos (led by Tom Green) and lizard-ified versions of our most monstrous leaders (Hi, Maggie!). It’s bigger, it’s more ambitious, more fun, and it’s finally here after last-minute financing troubles and a legal battle nearly toppled the film at the last hurdle.
“I think relief is probably the number one thing, because there were times during the process where it was not sure if we were even going to be able to get it out,” laughs Vuorensola. “Now, getting the feedback from the fans and everything, it’s a really nice and exciting moment to be in.”
How far back did you have the concept for The Coming Race?
I had the idea for three Iron Sky stories more or less from the very beginning. The first one was Nazis in the moon and the second one takes us to the hollow earth, and it started to take its form as I kept reading and bouncing into crazy stuff on the internet.
It feels much more like an old-school adventure movie. Did you know that you wanted that change of pace?
It was quite clear. The first one was more of a satirical movie, the second one I wanted to do a straightforward action movie. I wanted to do a standalone story and I wanted to do something that’s a complete adventure of its own. But at the same time it comes back to a lot of things that we set in motion with the first Iron Sky; the style and our approach to history and the world and religions, and all of this satirical poking at things that are usually not necessarily touched that much in Europe. The whole conspiracy theory is something that’s continuing, but the story is definitely different and the base genre is maybe a little bit different. It’s science fiction adventure rather than satirical science fiction.
But there are still lizard people who are world leaders…
Of course, we go and choose a bunch of figures from history. We had our fun, mainly figures that we didn’t really touch with the first Iron Sky, like the Thatchers and Zuckerbergs, we wanted to have our fun with them. And one of the reasons is that we can at this point, because if we were doing this under any kind of bigger studio influence or anything like that a lot of that stuff would have to be cut down or smoothened. We are pretty happy in this situation, a small independent label working on this stuff so in a way there is nobody, for good and bad, telling us what we should and shouldn’t do.
How much fun was it to explore this genre?
It was really a dream come true in many ways. To be able to make a living out of this kind of stuff is really something that I could have never hoped for when I first started this idea to become a filmmaker. Dinosaurs are important to me, that kind of stuff is important to me. I love my Jurassic Parks! Having said that, I don’t know any of the B-movies of the 50s or 60s, I’ve seen very few of them. So, sometimes it may be that I’m coming to those elements through much more popular and bigger reference point, for example from Spielberg’s work which is obviously very much influenced by that stuff, and is definitely something that I channel in my own way.
This movie is a lot bigger, but did you feel more confident having made the first?
Obviously financing was easier when we had the first Iron Sky in the bag and we were able to show it was like this and worked like this and the response was like this and this is the kind of film we do. And also to explain our approach to Nazis. Especially in Europe, financing bodies are very curious about what your take on the topic of Nazis is when you seem to be making so many things with the Nazi things, we see swastikas, we see Hitlers… The first Iron Sky was much harder to sell just because people were very suspicious, if we happened to be some weird neo Nazi undercover agents. And it didn’t help that our first promos didn’t really underline the satirical nature of the whole work. So that kind of stuff was hard, but this time was much easier, “Oh, Iron Sky, we laugh at the Nazis, not with the Nazis.” So in that way it was easier but it was also a much bigger budget, so finding the money was harder.
Story-wise and direction wise, the biggest challenge honestly is not so much…yeah, we can write crazy shit into a movie, that’s not a problem. The problem is that the current world, if you look at the politics of today, you open a newspaper and it’s out-Iron Sky-ing Iron Sky. It’s just becoming weirder and weirder, there’s no way a filmmaker can keep up the pace, so we thought we had to go way, way beyond so that they cannot catch us. Whatever we wrote with the first Iron Sky, a President of this kind [“Sarah Pallin” does return here], it’s not enough anymore. It’s getting weirder and it’s getting crazier, and that was one of the challenges we had to face when coming up with the story.
Udo Kier is amazing as ever. What’s it like to work with an actor like that?
It’s fun because Udo is his own kind of character, there’s not a lot of people like him anymore in the film world that much and I really enjoy it. You never know what Udo will bring to the table. You write whatever you write but Udo takes the role and the character and the lines, and then you have to just sit and listen to Udo because he usually has some of the weirdest and craziest ideas and those ideas are actually gold nuggets. I know a lot of filmmakers easily take them as “Yeah, yeah, whatever, let’s just stick to what we have,” but I love listening to Udo and his little bits and pieces.
He himself suggested that he wanted to play a double role in the movie. I was little bit against it at first because I thought double roles are complicated, but then I realised that if anybody, it’s going to have to be Udo. Once we nailed that I was really happy with it because nobody does things like Udo does, it’s so unique.
For example, he says “I want to have a dog in the movie.” I say, “We can’t afford a dog wrangler for every scene you have.” He says, “No, I want to have a dead dog on wheels.” [laughs] He has his own very special unique way to look at roles, characters, scenes and I love picking those gold nuggets up and putting them in the movie and having fun with it.
And you’re currently working on The Ark in China, can you tell us anything about that?
Yeah, I just came back from China. We did the second chapter of the shooting; we finished the shoot and we are now knee-deep in post-production with that so that means a lot of visual effects and finishing the edit. That’s another journey of the soul which I’m still in the process of, there’s not a lot to tell about it at this point but it’s really a unique film.
I can say that The Ark has absolutely nothing to do with Iron Sky or Iron Sky: The Coming Race, it’s not related at all, it’s a totally different kind of thing in so many ways. It’s for the Chinese market so it’s in the Chinese language. But that project would never be born if we didn’t have the first Iron Sky which was apparently a huge hit in China although we never knew about it. The first Iron Sky never got released, it was only available underground and of course we didn’t have any idea but it turned out to be very successful over there. It surprises me in how many weird places you find people who’ve seen it. I’m just a guy from Finland who made a weird movie but you can go anywhere and you’ll find people who are Iron Sky enthusiasts and that’s really unique for Finnish movies and even for many European movies.