“Lisa Frankenstein” is Diablo Cody’s wild and weird ghoulish romance, a 21st century uptake on notions around Mary Shelley’s creature, which made it an ideal vehicle for Zelda Williams to make her feature directing debut.
“I fell madly in love with Diablo’s script,” said Williams, the 34-year-old daughter of the late Robin Williams.
“What I really genuinely love about ‘Lisa’ is what Diablo has written. It wasn’t,” she said of the Oscar-winning “Juno” screenwriter’s provocative black comedy, “something that was bland and I had to create stuff out of nothing.
“With her words and her scenarios, you run with it as fast as you can, as hard as you can. Everything in this movie is a testament to what Diablo puts on paper. But in terms of like when we were actually on set, it was kind of funny.
“Because she has directed before — and I don’t know if she ended up really liking it as much as she liked writing — she is my favorite kind of writer because then they go, ‘No no! It’s your job. Go.’
“So she didn’t really babysit me or anything. She was just like, ‘Have a great time. I love what you’re doing.’ And I guess she would watch the dailies.”
Williams is named after Princess Zelda in the Nintendo game series “The Legend of Zelda” and remains a game enthusiast. She has acted, done voice work, directed six music videos. In 2018 she directed, produced, wrote and acted in “Shrimp,” a short film.
The script for “Lisa,” she readily acknowledges, is influenced by classic riffs like “Bride of Frankenstein” and an explicit nod to a feminist reversal of John Hughes’ “Weird Science.”
“But in my case when I was doing the visual side of this and approaching the kind of tone I wanted,” Williams said, “I really leant towards ‘Death Becomes Her,’” the grotesque Meryl Streep-Goldie Hawn horror comedy.
“That movie for me is very tonally paired with this movie. And there’s a bit of ‘Young Frankenstein’ because there’s a part of my heart that will always belong to Mel Brooks and his movies.
“Some of the comedy in this just felt so much like what he would give to Madeline Kahn (I feel like I must sound like a parent by how much I bring her up). She and Gene Wilder are two of the actors I regard highest. If this were made many years ago it would have been the two of them.
“And that was definitely something I tried to bring to the screen.”
“Lisa Frankenstein” opens on Feb. 9