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Frankenstein's Bloody Nightmare (2006)

DVD Cover (Unearthed Films)
Genres:
Avant-Garde, Creature Film, Horror, Surrealist Film
Director:
John R. Hand John R. Hand
Starring:
John R. Hand John R. Hand
Amy Olivastro Amy Olivastro
Chester Delacruz Chester Delacruz
Chip Chism Chip Chism
Mike Ensley Mike Ensley

4.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: June 28, 2007
Arthouse films - you just have to love them. Directors like Lynch and Cronenberg have made a name for themselves with these types of films, films in which everything is subjective and nothing is ever show in a straightforward fashion. How, exactly, is everything subjective in these films? Well, let me give an example here:

Film Type: Documentary
Scene: Subject Introduction
Narrator: Let's meet George.
George: Hi!

Film Type: Mainstream Film
Scene: Character Introductions
John: Hey Jane, how's it going?
Jane: Fine, John, and you?

Film Type: Arthouse Film
Scene: Character Introduction
Zoom in on a dying flower, showing the first stages of decay. A wasp slowly flies into the picture. In the background, the sounds of a squealing pig can be heard. A strobe light effect is used as we zoom out, and the colors are now reversed to give a negative image. Clips of the bombing of Hiroshima are then shown, and spliced together with this are split-second visions of a little girl jumping rope. She's our main character for this outing.

Needless to say, these types of films certainly aren't for everyone; however, when done properly, they can be quite effective and convey a message much better than a straightforward film ever could. Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare (missing apostrophe intentional) sort of falls in the middle here: it has its moments, but there were times when I found myself wishing that they would just get to the point already.

As far as the storyline goes, I'm going to let the writer himself describe it as - again - this is purely a subjective film and two different viewers could come up with two radically different synopses. The plot, as spelled out by director / writer / leading man John Hand, is as follows:

Brilliant young Victor Karlstein finds himself lost in an abyss of personal turmoil and professional stress after the woman he most likely seemed to love dies while under the care of his own mysterious medical facility. Determined to keep her alive, Victor uses his mechanically-enhanced reanimated corpse to murder young women in order to furnish "raw parts" for her new body, among other devious things.

Pieces of this synopsis are presented clear as day for the viewer: when you see the "reanimated corpse" and listen to Victor talk to it, there is no doubt as to what we're witnessing and what this creation will be used for. However, it's the finer details of the film that could be endlessly argued with no definitive answer to be found. That's both the beauty and the annoyance of these types of films, and depending on where you stand on the subject, that sort of thing results in a film that is either a must-see or a must-avoid.

Technically, the film looks damned good and I was impressed by how Hand used Super 8 film to his advantage. Normally, when you think of the good ol' Super 8, you think of amateurish home movies from the seventies - that's not what you're in for from this package. What you get here is a film that genuinely looks like a long-lost release from the early seventies which has been semi-restored for a modern DVD release when in fact, it was filmed only a year ago. No amount of digital effects or computer magic can convincingly do that, so the decision to shoot the entire film in Super 8 was pleasantly surprising and actually added to the overall appeal of the film.

Still, the film does have its issues. My main gripe was that there were times when it seems more interested in showing off some neat visual effects rather than entertaining the audience or progressing the storyline. I fully understand the visual and subjective nature of this genre and realize that showing something as "simple" as a man killing someone is going to be displayed in an unexpected way, but some of these scenes just ran on much too long for my liking. This may be due to the fact that the storyline as presented in this film would have only been good for about a half hour's worth of running time in a more mainstream film, and the result is a movie that feels padded in spots.

I'm going to have to take the easy way out with this film and give it a dual rating for the purpose of this review. It wouldn't be fair for me to give it a low overall rating seeings how I'm not a huge fan of the genre, but on the flip-side, I can't see myself giving a high rating to a film that I didn't personally enjoy. So, the ratings are as follows:

7/10 based on technical merits and presentation - if you enjoy arthouse films, this is the rating for you.

4/10 based on my personal enjoyment - if you're neutral towards the genre or a casual fan, this is the one you should be looking at.
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