Sunday, 4 November 2012

5 Fiendish Frankenstein Films!

When Mary Shelley created the Frankenstein novel, I wonder if she knew what kind of monster she was creating.  I haven't read the book for years, but the monster is one of my favourite characters of all time.  The idea that a scientist can create a living being, out of the dead people must have been an incredibly chilling thought at that time.  Today, with transplants being so common, the thought of using donor's parts is less chilling and more of a miracle of technology.

Over the years, Frankenstein's monster has become a part of society and is even used to describe a combination of things that are terrifying like Frankenstorm, Frankenfood Al Franken, (Just kidding, I love Al Franken)  but my favourite combination though is the classic story and film.

Here are 5 Fiendish Frankenstein Films!

5. Frankenstein 80 (1972) - Reporter Karl Schein's sister needs a new liver or she's going to die!  Luckily, one has just arrived at the hospital and Dr. Schwartz can put it in to fix her up right away.  He is going to use his new Schwartz formula that allows any transplant to work out just fine.  Use the Schwartz! However, someone has stolen the only jar of Schwartz and the Dr. Schwartz can't make any more for some reason, so Karl Schein's sister dies.  While looking directly at Dr. Schwartz, Karl vows to find his sister's killer, the man who stole the schwartz!  Luckily, the audience finds out that it's one of Dr. Schwartz's co-workers, Dr. Frankenstein.  Who happens to have a secret laboratory in his office at the hospital behind a bookcase, where he works on build his monster, Mosaic!  Moasic has been on a rampage lately, sneaking out and killing women, so using the Schwartz, Dr. Frankenstein gives him a new liver and a testicle implant.  Just what every monster needs. Karl speaks with the police, who are the dumbest police squad ever and he eventually finds his way to Dr. Frankensteins house.  He meets Dr. Frankenstein's ward, Sonia, who tells him Dr. Frankenstein is not home, so he leaves.  Done and Done. With a brand new testicle, Moasiac heads out for a night on the town and picks up a hooker.  Dr. Frankenstein finds them but it's too late, Moasic has already raped and killed her.  Now they have to get out of there before the police find them.  Can Karl find out who stole the Schwartz and help the police stop Moasic killing women? Who knows?  Cinematographer & one time director Mario Mancini puts together this bizarre mess of a film.  It's such a simple formula, Dr. Frankenstein creates a monster, it kills people, the police try and find out whodunnit, this should be a slam dunk for the giallo style but Mancini didn't even show up to the court.  The script is so confusing and ridiculous, that I had no idea what was happening for like the first ten minutes.  When Dr. Schwartz and his nurse go missing, the police end up searching for the nurse, and when Karl has a taped confession of Dr. Frankenstein for killing Dr. Schwartz, he ignores it and focuses on a birthmark clue! aaaaah, he just said he killed Dr. Schwartz!  There are definitely some gruesome and disturbing scenes but it takes so long to get to them and some don't even make sense.  With that said, it is worth a watch, if you enjoy reaaaallly bad movies because the true monster is the production.

4. Blackenstein (1973) - Dr. Winifred Walker visits her old professor Dr. Stein to see if he can help her fiance Eddie.  Eddie is a Vietnam vet, who lost his arms and legs on a land mine and Dr. Stein has been working on a formula to attach limbs back to the body.  Dr. Stein brings Winifred around the house to his other two patients to see the positive effects of the drug, he's created.  One lady is 90 and she looks I don't know 60 and an old man has had a leg replaced.  Winifred is excited that the formula works and how well the other patients are being taken care of, so she and Dr. Stein talk to Eddie and convince him to try out the experimental formula.  He agrees and they decide to move him over the next day.  Unfortunately, Dr. Stein's assistant Malcomb has fallen in love with Winifred and professes his love for her.  She lets him know nicely that she loves Eddie and gently tells him that she and Eddie are going to get married, when this is all through. Malcomb is angry and says some cryptic shit to her and leaves pissed. The next day, when they bring Eddie over and replace his arms and legs, Malcomb replaces the formula with something else that turns Eddie, eventually, into a Frankenstein monster!  They also discover this after, he goes out and kills a few times and he turns violent in the basement in his room/cage(?).  The police are hunting for the killer and Winifred still loves Eddie, what is a poor girl to do?  This film was made the following year after Blacula and they were hoping it would be just as successful but it wasn't.  The Blackenstein monster doesn't really have the same charm that William Marshall brought to Blacula but it still fun to watch.  The pacing is slow and the script can be confusing at times.  The ending is good and if you like blaxploitation film, then this should be up your alley.

3. May (2002) - May has a lazy eye and as a child she wore an eye patch to correct it.   This made her a outsider from the other kids at school, so her mom gave her a doll to be her best friend.  She couldn't play with the doll because it was special, so her only friend stayed in a box.  Fast forward and May works at the worst veterinary hospital, with an awful vet and a flaky receptionist named Polly, who seems to be in love with her at times.  Her only friend is still her doll but she has fallen in love with a guy named Adam, who she tries to meet.  She finally meets Adam and goes on some dates with her but since she is socially inept and has a rather dark sense of humour.  This makes her seem more creepy and weird to Adam and he breaks it off with her. She finds solace with Polly but finds out that she was no more than another trist, so she decides that if she can't have friends then she'll make one on her own, literally.  I found this be a pretty charming horror comedy.  Angela Bettis is awesome as May and really brings the quirky qualities of May to life. Jeremy Sisto and Anna Farris are also excellent in this film.  I love the awkward humour that this film brings and it's fun to watch as May slowly deteriorate into a psychopath at the end.  Great movie and one you should check out!

2. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) - Jailed and waiting for a reprieve from the gallows, Dr. Victor Frankenstein recounts his tale to a clergy man.  He tells him that after his father's death, he took over the Frankenstein estate and needed a tutor to complete his education.  After choosing Paul Krempe, as a tutor his fascination with science, grew and by the time he was grown, their experiments had gone into a realm that was groundbreaking.  They first brought a cat back to life, but Victor wanted to push it further and create a man.  Paul didn't want to be any part of Victor's ghoulish plan and stayed living in the mansion, only to protect Victor's fiance/cousin, Elizabeth.  eww.  Victor collected body parts, built his monster and needed only a brain to finish his creation.  He invites a leading professor to his home for dinner and murders him, while showing him the house.  Unfortunately, Paul showed up during dinner and figured out Victor's plan.  He catches Victor at the mausoleum removing the professor's brain and tries to stop him, only damaging the brain and tearing their friendship apart even further.  Victor, salvages the brain and kicks Paul to the curb, then continues his experiments and brings his monster to life!  However, like most attempts we've seen with bringing the dead back to life it goes wrong and now Dr. Frankenstein has a monster of a problem on his hands.  Can he make up with his bestee, Paul and find his way back from a spiraling demise? Watch and see! This was director, Terence Fisher first kick at the gothic horror for Hammer and was quite successful, leading to Dracula the following year and The Mummy the next and really establishing Hammer films as a the premiere horror studio of the time.  Peter Cushing is brilliant as Dr. Frankenstein and although silent, Christopher Lee gives a performance as the monster, that is only matched by Karloff's.  The look of the monster is different as well.  Unlike Karloff's smooth face and square head, they have Lee rough and scared, giving it a more fearsome and grotesque look.  Incredible sets and probably one of the finest Hammer films available, this one is for any classic horror fan.

1. Frankenstein (1931) Henry Frankenstein and his assistant Fritz are collecting body parts for a project that Henry is doing.  Henry wants to create a person in his windmill castle and all he needs now is a brain.  So he sends Fritz to go get one from the university.  Luckily, Dr. Waldman is doing a talk on good and evil brains and he's brought of an example of each.  After class, Fritz sneaks in and grabs the good brain but gets spooked and drops it. Damn it, evil brain it is then! Fritz grabs it and skedaddles back to the windmill castle.  During this time Henry's fiance, Elizabeth is getting worried about him and so is his best friend Victor, so they go and talk to Dr. Waldman.  He decides they show go on a field trip and see what Hank is doing and bring him home.  That night, Henry & Fritz are about to bring there monster to life with the best electrical storm ever, when who shows up at the door but Dr. Waldman, Elizabeth and Victor. Bummer, Fritz tries to get rid of them but Hank let's them in and tells them not to get in the way.  He sets his machines in motion,  triumphantly brings the monster to life and screams out "It's Alive!" A few weeks go by and Victor, Elizabeth and Baron Frankenstein are complaining that they are not seeing Henry enough, although he just accomplished the greatest scientific breakthrough ever, and think he needs to be more concerned about his wedding.  So they march off to the windmill castle.  Things are not going well for Herr Frankenstien, the monster is not what he expected and kills Fritz.  He and Dr. Waldman sedate the Monster and decide they must kill it, when guess who shows up, Baron Frankenstein, Elizabeth and Victor asking him to come get married.  Seeing that his work has failed, he leaves Dr. Waldman there to kill the monster.  Thanks buddy.  However, the monster wakes up and kills Dr. Waldman!  The monster leaves the windmill and goes on a killing spree in search of Dr. Frankenstein!  Can Hank stop the monster in time for his wedding or will the monster wreck his wedding day?   Director James Whale puts together one hell of a monster movie here.  Karloff does an amazing job, giving the monster character the emotional layers it needs to become a misunderstood, somewhat anti-hero.  Colin Clive and Dwight Fyre are unforgettable has the grave robbing duo that bring the monster to life and the talents of Jack Pierce's groundbreaking make up effects shine through the whole picture.  This is a great film and should be watched by not only horror lovers but anyone who appreciates good cinema. 

So when you're watching these films and eating a frankenweenie, remember that Frankenstein is the name of the doctor not the monster.


  1. I was checking out this article to make sure May was mentioned. Thank you very much for posting your thoughts about this movie

  2. All great picks. I have a copy Blackenstein but have yet to watch it. May is great as well and I totally dig all the Hammer Frankenstein movies. Cool post, thanks!

  3. Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, a Hammer film deserves honorable mention