Roger Corman's Frankenstein
Roger Corman, Kobi Jaeger, Thom Mount for The Mount Company
directed by Roger Corman
starring John Hurt, Raul Julia, Nick Brimble, Bridget Fonda, Catherine Rabett, Jason Patric, Michal Hutchence, Catherine Corman, William Geiger, Mickey Knox, Myriam Cyr, Terri Treas, Cynthia Allison, Isabella Rocchietta, Matt Cassidy, Hauck Bjorck, Ilga Angelo, John Karlsen, Donald Hodson, Bruce McGuire, Grady Clarkson, Andrew Newton, Paul Weston, Christopher Robertson, Peter Goetz, Nick Gillard, Cyrus Elias
screenplay by Roger Corman, F.X. Feney, based on the novel by Brian W.Aldiss and on characters created by Mary W. Shelley, music by Carl Davis, special effects by Illusion Arts
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2031: Doctor Buchanan (John Hurt) has just developed the perfect
weapon, but unfortunately the weapon causes disturbances in the
time-space-continuum, and one such disturbance takes him and his
futuristic car back to the Lake Geneva, exactly the time when a certain Dr
Frankenstein (Raul Julia) experimented on creating life, but created a
monster (Nick Brimble) and a certain Mary Godwin (Bridget Fonda) - the
later Mary W.Shelly - stayed in the vicinity with Lord Byron (Jason
Patric) and Percy Shelly (Michael Hutchence), wirting her novel Frankenstein.
Buchanan adapts to 19th century Geneva remarkably quick, and soon
enough he is acquaintances with both Frankenstein and Mary Godwin ... when
he witnesses a trial where a young girl (Catherine Corman) is condemned to
death by hanging for murder - a murder that Buchanan thanks to his advance
knowledge (he has read Frankenstein) was committed by the
Frankenstein monster. He now tries to save the girl from death, by trying
to enlist the help of either Mary or Frankenstein or his fiancée
Elizabeth (Catherine Rabett) - who he knows is of course the next on the
monster's list - but to no avail. In the end, he actually tries to save
the girl single handedly but is almost killed himself.
Ultimately, the girl is killed, but at least Buchanan's actions have
impressed Mary enough to have a shag with him - remember, she along with
Shelly and Byron, was a pioneer of free love, a century and a half before
the hippie movement. Still, the whole affair is far from over, and now
Buchanan tries to do anything in his power to stop Frankenstein from
further experiments and help him destroying the monster - to no avail,
soon enough the monster has killed Elizabeth and has forced Frankenstein
to construct a mate for him out of Elizabeth's bodyparts ... and somehow,
Frankenstein tricks Buchanan into even helping him ... but secretly,
Buchanan has another plan, to use the next ripple inthe time/space
continuum to have himself and Frankenstein and the monster and
Frankenstein's new female creature teleported into a whole different time
era - which turns out to be the far future, Antarctica, near the last city
of mankind. There the newly created female creature forces Frankenstein to
kill her, then the monster kills Frankenstein in a rage ... then for some
reason Buchanan decides it would be a good idea to kill the monster (who
just wants to be left alone by everyone) - which he finally manages with
the futuristic technology of the last city ... but somehow the
monster will always stay with him, because he as a scientist developing
the perfect weapon was no better than Frankenstein, and the last city was
actually a product of that weapon.
After almost 20 years of absence from the director's chair, B-movie
legend Roger Corman was persuaded to direct another film, a film with a
decent budget and adequate special effects (both of which he didn't
necessarily have in most of his earlier films). The outcome is neither
Corman's best film nor his worst, not his funniest (intentionally or
unintentionally) nor his unfunniest nor his most serious. In fact, Frankenstein
Unbound is a surprisingly light-footed horror/sci fi-romp that keeps
things going at a steady pace to help over the occasional narrative
inconsistency and that features a reference-laden story that is not an
insult on the audience's intelligence (despite the occasional silliness).
It's not a masterpiece, it might not even be one of Corman's better
films (for whatever reason), and you might have forgotten the film in a
day or two, but it's perfect light genre-entertainment - which is good
enough any day in my book.
review © by Mike Haberfelner
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