October 9, 2011

Horror-A-Day: Frankenstein Unbound

Following the Leprechaun in the Hood debacle, I felt the need to get right back on the horse and look to get this October Horror Movie Marathon back on track. I am still unsure where this month will take me, I suspect that quality is not going to be a priority. That is a shame. I'll see what I can do, but I make no promises. This time out I went for a title I had heard of, but had never seen (like so many others), and appeared to be of some quality based on a few simple things. As it turns out, it was a step up from Warwick Davis vehicle, but it was not quite what it could have been.

The movie stars Raul Julia, John Hurt, and Bridget Fonda. Not bad right? The film is Frankenstein Unbound and it is based on the novel by Brian Aldiss, I have not read it, but I understand it to be a commentary on the original Mary Shelley novel and technology. The film did not reach such lofty heights. It is an entertaining movie, but instead of aspiring to be some sort of insightful tale, it instead resides on the campier side of the tracks and seems to be enjoying its stay.

There is something noteworthy about the movie. It doesn't matter if you forget the movie in a matter of minutes, the noteworthiness will not go away and it also explains why the movie took the trip to camp. Frankenstein Unbound marked Roger Corman's return to the director's chair. It was his first credited directorial role since Von Richtofen and Brown in 1971 (he also handled some directorial duties on 1978's Deathsport and 1980's Battle Beyond the Stars). Corman's is a name that anyone who enjoys B-movies should know. He has directed and produced all manner of science fiction and horror movies over the years and claims to have never not had a profit on a movie.

The movie is a hybrid science fiction/horror/period film that plays out like a campy horror version of Back to the Future. John Hurt is Dr. Buchanan and in the year 2031 has developed a new weapon, but that weapon has side effects, these effects are manifested as mysterious disappearances, and time travel. Buchanan and his talking computer car are victims of the latter. He finds himself in 1817 Switzerland where he finds a very real Victor Frankenstein (Raul Julia), an actual monster, and the future Mary Shelley (Bridget Fonda).

What if Mary was recording history as opposed to writing a novel? It is certainly an interesting idea and probably should have made for a better movie. However, this remains silly and driven by surface conceits without doing any real digging into the characters and motivations.

Still, despite what it lacks as an overall narrative, it does benefit from pretty good performances from all of the leads, including Nick Brimble as the monster. The period setting and the B-grade sheen make for an entertaining movie, but it is not particularly horrific and I don't really care if I see it again.

Worth a watch, but I wouldn't go out of my way.

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