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Frankenstein Unbound (1990)

DVD Cover (Anchor Bay)
Movie Connections:
Frankenstein
> Frankenstein (1910)
> Frankenstein (1931)
> Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)
> Son Of Frankenstein (1939)
> The Ghost Of Frankenstein (1942)
> Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)
> House Of Frankenstein (1944)
> House Of Dracula (1945)
> The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)
> Mad Monster Party (1967)
> Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971)
> Young Frankenstein (1974)
> The Monster Squad (1987)
> Frankenstein Unbound (1990)
> Frankenstein (1994)
> ...Show All Connections?
Director:
Roger Corman Roger Corman
Starring:
John Hurt John Hurt
Raul Julia Raul Julia
Nick Brimble Nick Brimble
Bridget Fonda Bridget Fonda
Catherine Rabett Catherine Rabett

5.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Costume Horror, Creature Film, Horror, Psychological Sci-Fi, Science Fiction
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Review by Crispy
Added: March 20, 2016
I was a little unsure about adding Frankenstein Unbound to my little Frankie marathon here, since it's actually based on a separate novel by Brian Aldiss which I haven't read. However, the story promised an interesting fusion of the author and her plot line, not to mention I was more than a little intrigued about Roger Corman and Raul Julia working together. And of course, that cover art is amazing.

In the not so distant future, Dr. Joe Buchanan is working on a weapon that can demolish items on the molecular level. By all accounts, the weapon is working perfectly, except for one glaring side effect. It's use is creating massive wormholes across the entire city. Soon, Buchanan and his talking car are sucked into one of the rifts themselves and find themselves transported to Switzerland in the early 1800s. As he collects his bearings, he learns of a local murder investigation involving a young girl named Justine Moretz, and even more astonishing, has a conversation with a Dr. Victor Frankenstein in a local tavern. Traveling through the space-time continuum is one thing, but how could he have have been transported to a fictional world? He gets his answer at the poor girl's trial, and is introduced to Mary Shelly herself. It seems the inspiration for her famous masterpiece was actually a factual story. Knowing full well the tragedy that Frankenstein's monster will wreak, Buchanon reaches out to Frankenstein, hoping to help end the menace. However, Frankenstein has other ideas.

There were two things Frankenstein Unbound had going for it that set it aside from other adaptations. One is the direct comparisons between Buchanan's work with the laser and Frankenstein and his monster, and the other is the addition of the Shellys into the plot itself. The problem is neither one gets enough time to be fully realized. Of the two of them, the Shelly aspect was given less attention; I'd go as far as to say it was only included as a means to bring Buchanan together with Frankenstein using time travel as a plot device. It's a lot easier to just say the story was actually based on true events instead of coming up with the contrivances that would send the scientist into a fictional world. That wouldn't have been a problem if they stuck with it, but they pushed Buchanan's relationship with Mary Shelly just into that gray zone. It wasn't enough to be a worthwhile subplot, so it just took away from Buchanan's role as the modern Frankenstein. It's a shame too, because from that perspective it was actually a fun movie. This was Roger Corman's first directing gig in over twenty years, and I'm sure his rabid fan base was hoping for something a bit more than this.

In typical Corman fashion, the acting, while not exactly stellar, gets the job done. As Buchanan, John Hurt ran a little flat, especially during his more emotional scenes. It's also a little amusing hearing him claim to be an American over and over without doing anything to conceal his British accent. Then there's Raul Julia. I mentioned in my introduction paragraph how much I was looking forward to him, and he sure didn't disappoint. He knew how to toe that overacting line perfectly, and he's always been able to put a smile on my face. Damn do I miss him. Finally, Nick Brimble played the monster perfectly. He was able to cross an innocent naivety with a murderous rage seamlessly, bringing to life a character that is just as easily pitied as feared.

It wasn't a terrible ninety minutes, but it certainly wasn't a must-see. I'm sure it'll be a little bit of a let-down to Roger Corman fans who was looking forward to a triumphant return. 6/10.
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