I remember when this flick came out on video I was pretty excited about seeing it because it was the first movie Roger Corman directed in almost twenty years. He should’ve waited longer. Despite a couple of good performances and some interesting casting, Frankenstein Unbound is a big fucking mess.
John Hurt stars as a 21st century scientist who gets sucked into a “time slip” (along with his talking car) and winds up in the era of Mary Shelley (Bridget Fonda). Meanwhile, Dr. Frankenstein (Raul Julia) has recently created a murderous monster (Nick Brimble, Little John from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) who’s going around the countryside ripping people’s hearts out. After a whole
You know, in the early 80’s/late 90’s it was fashionable to make a movie about Mary Shelley and Lord Byron hanging out and writing books. There was Ken Russell’s Gothic, Haunted Summer, and this flick. While the prospect of combining Shelley and the Frankenstein Monster is a promising one, Corman really drops the ball by never letting her interact with her literary creation.
Mostly though, Frankenstein Unbound is just way too goofy for it’s own good. It’s filled with a lot of dumb stuff like talking cars, time travel, laser beams, and other shit that gets in the way of the story. And the ending totally sucks too. I mean Hurt uses THE CLAPPER to activate his laser beams to kill the Monster! Are you fucking kidding me? Then there’s the ludicrous scene where Hurt FAXES Mary Shelley a copy of her own novel! I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried, folks.
To make matters worse, the flick has very little Frankenstein action in it and Julia isn’t given a whole heck of a lot to do. There is one scene that was ripe with possibilities, and that was when the Doctor agreed to turn his wife into the Monster’s mate. This subplot is mostly ignored and rushed in favor of more Pink Floyd laser show shit. (This concept was later put to much better use in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.)
Since this is a Roger Corman movie; that means the first half of the flick is heavily padded with scenes of the main character walking around aimlessly. Even though a majority of the film is quite boring, I did enjoy some of Corman’s stylistic touches. For instance, Hurt’s nightmare scenes are pretty cool and are reminiscent of the freak-out scenes in Masque of the Red Death.
I also dug the fact that Corman gave Bridget Fonda a plum role early in her career, just like he did with her dad Peter back in the 60’s. And I liked seeing Jason Patric’s extended cameo as the aloof Percy Shelley. Then you have the ill-fated singer of INXS Michael Hutchence playing Lord Byron. He isn’t very good, but the world only gave us but so many Michael Hutchence movies, so you’ve got to take what you can get.
AKA: Roger Corman’s Frankenstein.