Frankenstein Reborn! (1998)

Starring Jason Simmons, Ben Gould, Haven Paschall, Ethan Wilde, George Calin, Oana Stefanescu, Claudiu Trandafir, Roxana Popa

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Frankenstein Reborn! was to be the first of a multi-film series for Full Moon called Filmonsters!, with each film bringing a classic film monster into the Full Moon fold. As a huge fan of the classic monsters (who isn’t?), I would’ve loved to see this series take off. Unfortunately it died a premature death after the release of this film and its concurrently produced sibling The Werewolf Reborn!. The movie even opens with a cool series intro, featuring the Puppet Master puppets resurrecting the monsters in a spooky graveyard. It’s similar to the scene in Puppet Master II, and some of it may even be footage from Puppet Master II. It’s been too long since I saw it to be sure, but regardless it sets the tone perfectly for a short monster movie.

When I say short, I mean it: Frankenstein Reborn! runs about 46 minutes (with a few of those devoted to the intro and credits). The brevity of the movie allows it to just rip through the story and entertain constantly, but I was also left unsatisfied. I don’t think I’d have preferred an 80–90 minute version of this movie, but it barely felt like I watched a movie. Later in the day, I thought to myself, “Oh, I guess I’m not watching a movie today, it’s too late to start one,” before realizing quickly thereafter that I had already watched Frankenstein Reborn!

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Frankenweenie (2012)

frankenweenieStarring Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Winona Ryder, Robert Capron, James Hiroyuki Liao, Conchata Ferrell

Directed by Tim Burton

Expectations: Fairly low. I’m only watching this because my girlfriend thought I should see it because I love the Universal Monster movies.

threestar


The simple fact of Frankenweenie‘s existence as a 2012 feature brings up some questions in my mind. Having spent the last decade or so making adequate to poor movies, Tim Burton decided to return to his roots and remake his 1984 short film, Frankenweenie. It’s a great idea for a film, and with the short never having the release it deserved, this version of Frankenweenie represents a good way for fans to experience this inspired homage to the Universal Monster movies from the young/old mind of Burton. But to return to his roots at such a creatively bankrupt time in his career is also somewhat distressing. Is this merely a remake aimed at eliciting some response from those that grew up adoring the likes of Beetlejuice, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure or Batman?

The answer, for me, was a bit of both. Frankenweenie is a gloriously made film, perfectly evocative of the era it seeks to recreate and pay homage to. At the same time, it also seems to be aimed directly at fans already familiar with his work, with visual, audio and story references to his previous, iconic works. But despite my reservations, this resurrected version of Frankenweenie does have that old Burton magic throughout. It’s easily his best film in years, and one hopes that this is a sign of things to come in the future. The fact that his next film will reunite him with the Ed Wood screenwriters for a biopic starring Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams definitely piques my interest more than most of this other recent films have.

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The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Starring Peter Cushing, Robert Urquhart, Christopher Lee, Hazel Court, Valerie Gaunt, Noel Hood, Melvyn Hayes, Paul Hardtmuth, Fred Johnson

Directed by Terence Fisher

Expectations: Moderate. I’m excited to finally watch a Hammer movie after years of buildup, but I’m trying to remain grounded.


For my first Hammer Horror movie experience, I figured I’d begin at the film that started it all, The Curse of Frankenstein. Would you expect me to do anything else? Hammer had done some similar productions prior to this, but The Curse of Frankenstein was their first horror film in color and the one that kicked off their very successful series of revisionist horror films featuring the classic monsters. As such, it is a very impressive, competent movie, exhibiting quality filmmaking from every corner.

At this point in my life, I feel like I’ve seen enough Frankenstein movies. They are all relatively similar, and what is different usually isn’t different enough to care about. This is a big reason why I never actively pursued these Hammer Horror movies, because at some level I felt they’d just be simple retellings of the classic Universal movies, albeit in color with more daring gore. This is where The Curse of Frankenstein sets itself apart though, because in spite of all the odds stacked against it in my head, the film has such an interesting take on the story that it is not only worth watching, this is quite possibly my favorite Frankenstein of all. It definitely blows the 30s Universal movie out of the water for me, no disrespect to that movie intended. It is iconic and all that, but it can’t hang with this version of the tale in my eyes.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Blackenstein [The Black Frankenstein] (1973)

Blackenstein [The Black Frankenstein] (1973)
AKA Black Frankenstein, Return of Blackenstein, Blackstein

Starring John Hart, Ivory Stone, Joe De Sue, Roosevelt Jackson

Directed By William A. Levey


After the runaway success of Blacula, it was only a matter of time before other studios would attempt to cash in on the blaxploitation/horror sub-genre. The most obvious attempt was 1973’s Blackenstein, a movie that takes everything Blacula did right and throws it completely out the window.

When Vietnam Vet Eddie Turner (Joe De Sue) loses all of his limbs from a land mine, his fiancée Dr. Walker consults her old teacher, mad scientist Dr. Stein (John Hart) for help. Dr. Stein attempts to attach new limbs to Eddie, and all is going according to plan. But when his assistant, Malcomb professes his love for Dr. Walker and is rejected, he secretly switches the bottles of DNA solution out of spite. The unbalanced solution is injected into Eddie, mutating him into Blackenstein, a hideous (?) monster who escapes the laboratory every night, limping around Los Angeles like a 93-year-old woman, killing random strangers by ripping out their intestines.

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