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Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound
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Index 57 reviews in total 

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Well, that was a nice little surprise from Mr. Corman!

Author: Boba_Fett1138 from Groningen, The Netherlands
5 July 2012

Who would had guessed that a Roger Corman directed movie, involving the Frankenstein story and time traveling would work out so well? Honestly. I simply liked watching this movie and I'm willing to call it a very underrated one.

It's obviously not a perfect movie but it's still one that works out for most part, despite its crazy and silly sounding concept. You could thank the story for that, which is being more creative and original than you beforehand would imaging. Credit for this though should mostly be given to Brian Aldiss, who was the author of the novel on which this movie got based.

There are so many different Frankenstein knockoffs out there but thing they all have in common is that they seem very much alike. Much alike with its themes, characters and performances. This movie is an original spin on the familiar Frankenstein story, that features still most of the familiar characters but not in the way they normally get presented. It's more a movie that delves into what the inspiration for the Frankenstein story was, as if it all really happened.

This by no means is being a typical Corman flick. It's still a cheap movie but it really isn't being a cheap looking one. It's not far as campy and filled with cheese as basically any other Corman production. My guess is that this simply was a project Corman really had a heart for and this (which also would explain why he directed this movie personally, even though he had previously quit directing movies back in 1971 already) was being a straightforward attempt at making a serious and good movie. And in my opinion he also for most part succeeded in this!

The movie also has a real awesome cast in it, with John Hurt as the main lead and Raul Raul Julia as Dr. Frankenstein. Especially Raul Julia is acting as if he was in a Shakespeare play, which might seem a bit over-the-top for a movie like this but I still really liked his performance and he gave the character something extra with it.

It's definitely true though that the movie its second half is not as good as its first. The movie suddenly starts to become more messy and less fun. The first part of the movie was so entertaining and made me enjoy the movie very much, which makes it all the more a shame that not the entire movie is being like this.

Nevertheless, this movie is as good as a time traveling movie involving the Frankenstein story can get! A bit of an underrated movie, that definitely deserves some more credit, for being original and effective as well.


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The ingredients were there, but the cake didn't rise.

Author: Wendel-2 from California
2 July 2001

I am a Roger Corman fan from way back. He has hit a lot of balls out of the ball park, but this one grounded out on third.

It comes across as a mini-series that was edited down to one film. Major plot points, and the ending, were left on the cutting room floor. The superior cast, especially for a Corman film, seems left standing around waiting for the next page of the script to be delivered. The ending was filmed on a day when the script never showed up at all, leaving the actors to "wing it."

It is too bad really because the idea seems original enough. A new spin on a story that has been done to death (so to speak). Maybe the rest of the film will be restored someday and Corman will have another classic on his hands. Until then, skip this one and rent "Tomb of Ligiea."

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND (Roger Corman, 1990) **1/2

Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta
31 March 2011

As some of you may know, I am currently paying tribute to my favorite film directors and, being aware that Danny Boyle's acclaimed stage production of "Frankenstein" for the National Theatre was being screened live over here, too (although I ended up missing both 'alternating' performances, alas!), made me realize that I had gravely shortchanged James Whale by watching just 14 titles during his retrospective (compared to the staggering 68 accorded earlier to Luis Bunuel)! Therefore, I have now inflated that relatively puny amount by 7 'Frankensteins' (after all, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN {1935} is – and is likely to remain – my all-time favorite film!) and 4 'Three Musketeers' ones...

Anyway, one can assume that what made film-maker extraordinaire Roger Corman step back into the director's chair (after a significant absence of 19 years) was his desire to not miss out on a chance to finally tackle the mythical Mary Shelley creation on celluloid; it should be remembered that during their heyday, Corman's employers (American International Pictures) strangely steered clear of the material despite venturing into many other fantasy-related literary areas: apart from their celebrated Poe cycle, there had also emanated from their stable adaptations from Bronte', LeFanu, Lovecraft, Rice Burroughs, Wells and Wilde! Unfortunately, although the end result is hardly as negligible as its muted reputation suggests (which had led me to bypass its numerous cable TV screninings in the past), it eventually put paid to the idea that Corman resume his old day-job!

Actually, FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND was not a direct retelling of the original tale but rather Brian W. Aldiss's time-hopping futuristic reimagining of it; British sci-fi writer Aldiss is best-known for having penned the short story which spawned A.I. – ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001), the aborted Stanley Kubrick project resurrected (after the latter's untimely death) and ultimately realized by Steven Spielberg. Once one accepts the preposterous premise – John Hurt is a New York scientist from the year 2031 who, through a "time-slip" of his own making, falls into 1816 Geneva (complete with his 'strange' attire and state-of-the-art talking car!) where a series of murders (committed by Victor Frankenstein's creature but attributed to waifish Justine Moritz) are being tried in the Swiss law courts and witnessed by one young Mary Godwin (soon-to-be Shelley)!! Surprisingly enough, it was nominated in 4 categories at the U.S.A. "Science Fiction" academy awards but came out empty-handed against some formidable competition that included THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (both 1991)!

The casting is a mixed blessing: on the credit side, one certainly finds John Hurt (curiously but effectively cast as the out-of-time American scientist preoccupied by the repercussions his own temporal experiments are having on his real world but hopelessly fascinated by both Frankenstein and Shelley in this past life!), Raul Julia (making for a suitably brooding and ruthless Baron), Bridget Fonda (lovely as Mary Shelley, the "practitioner" of free love and amused no end when Hurt provides her with a page off of a 21st century reprint of her as-yet-unpublished novel!) and Catherine Corman (the director's own daughter, who is quite poignant in her few scenes as the ill-fated Justine); however, on the debit side one must put Nick Brimble (unfortunately unsympathetic as The Monster saddled as he is with an awful PREDATOR-like look, he was given an "introducing" credit despite having already been in the business for 20 years!), Jason Patric (ill-at-ease as Lord Byron), Australian rock star Michael Hutchence (barely registering at all as the poet Shelley) and Catherine Rabett (as an even blander-than-usual Elizabeth).

Despite being ostensibly an American production, the film was completely shot in the Italian region of Lombardia (and looks all the better for it) and, consequently, utilizes many crew members from the European continent, most prominently distinguished cinematographer Armando Nannuzzi (formerly a regular of Luchino Visconti's) and composer Carl Davis (famous for underscoring several revived classics of American Silent cinema). Another noteworthy American contributor here is co-screenwriter F.X. Feeney who is nowadays better known as a film critic/historian who has recorded audio commentaries for the DVD editions of Orson Welles' TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) and a few Claude Chabrol movies. Ultimately, Roger Corman's FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND proved to be an interesting, worthwhile and, despite the futuristic trappings, a charmingly old-fashioned addition to the never-ending cinematic saga of the misguided medico that, for all the difference in allocated budget, was not far removed quality-wise from the would-be definitive Francis Ford Coppola-Kenneth Branagh version released in 1994.

P.S. Now...where to get hold of a copy of Ivan Passer's HAUNTED SUMMER (1988), the second film - after Ken Russell's typically delirious Gothic (1986) - to chronicle the events leading up to Mary Shelley penning her legendary book?

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Pretty much rubbish

Author: doshin09 from United States
14 November 2010

I actually have quite a bit of respect for Roger Corman, especially because he's given a lot of people their start in movies: Jack Nicholson, Jonathan Demme, Ron Howard and John Sayles among many, many others. But this one is an embarrassment to nearly all concerned: awful dialogue, no atmosphere, anachronisms galore. I think possibly the reason Corman hasn't directed anything since this is that he realized he couldn't do it anymore. There are a couple of redeeming factors: the performance of Nick Brimble as the monster, who in this interpretation is agile, articulate, and somewhat complex; and the Frankenstein story itself, which is closer to Mary Shelley's original than the vast majority of other treatments. (In my opinion the original story has never really been done justice in film; the closest is "Bride of Frankenstein.")

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A B movie complete with a clapper

Author: papabearEG from United States
18 January 2006

Tivo recorded this for me, so at first glance I thought I was watching a movie made in 1970 judging from the story and cheesy props (ala Logan's Run). I kept thinking, "Wow, these effects are really good for a B movie from the 70's". Then I hit info and saw it was made in 1990 and my jaw dropped. I wonder if this had been intended as a camp classic. When Hurts character uses a clapper to activate the laser effects in the ending sequence, I would have laughed if the movie didn't take itself so seriously. I can't decide if it was a really lame attempt at high camp, or a miserable attempt at science fiction. Apart from clap on clap off laser effects projected on the side of a castle (I've seen better in gay night clubs), there wasn't much to like about this film. I wondered why such high profile actors with such obvious talent agreed to such a bad film. The car was cool though. I wish I could have one of my very own. Maybe I'll watch it again, but make sure I'm in an altered state first, and then it might seem worth watching. I'll have lots of munchies on hand so it will be a really good experience. clap clap...laser On! Hey Car, go get monster... clap clap. where's my copy of the Logan's run series?

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Frankenstein Unworthy

Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
10 June 2005

I'm a great admirer of Roger Corman and I definitely think that he's listed high among the most influential persons ever to be active in the horror industry. But – let's face it – it's been more than 30 years since he directed those adorable quickies of his and he certainly 'lost the touch'. In 1990, after nearly twenty years of producing only, Roger all of a sudden decided to direct again and he chose for a funky, hi-tech update of the classic Frankenstein tale. Even though the cast is filled with prominent names and even though Corman's filming budget was reasonably high, "Frankenstein Unbound" constantly looks like amateurish garbage. The screenplay, adapted from the Brian Aldiss novel, attempts to spoof the Frankenstein premise by catapulting 21th century scientist John Hurt back to the 1800's where he encounters the mad doctor Raul Julia. This latter tries to involve the mysterious man from the future and his sorcery tricks in his experiments to create life, etc etc... The story is too stupid for words and it's really exaggerated to see how Hurt even succeeds in seducing the legendary female novelist Mary Shelley. The monster looks very un-scary and the gore – although plenty of it – fails to entertain. Corman stuffs his film with metaphors that make no sense and there's a complete lack of involvement. The only sequence that slightly pleased me was Raul Julia screaming out his interpretation of the famous "It's Alive...It's Alive!!!!"- words. I still think Roger Corman is a genius for the brilliant Edgar Allen Poe cycle he did in the sixties (starring Vincent Price!) but this "Frankenstein Unbound" is one movie you won't ever see me recommending.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Awful by induction. Proof included.

Author: tp93 from Ottawa Canada
10 September 2001

I actually watched the entire movie. You might be surprised at this, but I was under the impression from the first scene that it couldn't possibly get any worse. Actually it was almost like a proof of 'awful' by induction. It kept getting worse with each scene.

If scene k is bad and scene k+1 is worse, scene k+x will be worse than the one before it.

I challenge you to disprove me. Include certification of sanity.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Ahh, progress...

Author: Kevin Smith ( from Dallas, TX
9 May 2000

This movie is truly bizarre. It tries so hard to give the story of Frankenstein this fresh relevance to today by mirroring it to science/weapons development, but neglecting the fact that the whole original story has relevance already. So, what you're left with are some cheezy special effects and some mixed-bag acting. I especially love the early future scenes with blinking lights, dot matrix printers and IBM XTs. The KITT-rip-off car is rather entertaining too.

A couple great scenes to watch for: the early bike-burying scene from which the above quote comes from, the half-baked romance ("I've never even imagined someone like you." "That's because I don't exist yet.") and the spirograph-esqe lasers. I really don't think this movie deserves as high of a rating as it has (5.3 at the time of this writing), but at least it's kinda fun. Just don't expect it to change your life.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

I am not sure Frankenstein could be degraded much more.

Author: starzero from Gambier, OH
18 April 2000

While Andy Warhol's version of Frankenstein managed to add a bizarre, if bad, twist to the story, and Hammer productions ignored entirely production values, Roger Corman has here managed to defame and utterly degrade Mary Shelley's original story that I cannot imagine anyone even bothering to make it into a movie again, much less watch this tiresome trash. What frightens me most about it is the complete lack of decent acting. Is this the same John Hurt from The Elephant Man? Can't Raul Julia be anything other than a self-aggrandizing playboy? How do either of these characters resemble anything from Mary Shelley's novel? What is the point of having them meet Mary, her husband Percy, and Lord Byron in some extravagant villa? Should we really expect Michael Hutchence to act? The very fact that Kenneth Branaugh later tried his hand at defaming Frankenstein (thankfully to lesser effect) suggests that the story itself is much stronger than anything a movie can do for it. Still, for this movie alone Corman should be stripped of his filmmaking rights and put away so we will not have to endure any similar travesty against motion pictures.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Get the original by James Whale!

Author: Clivecat
26 May 1999

This was a flaccid re-telling (yet again!) of the classic "Frankenstein" tale. Bridget Fonda was absolutely dreadful and improbable as "Mary Shelley." Back to The Valley with her! Raul Julia as an Austrian? John Hurt as a Los Angelino? Really! What casting nightmare did Roger Corman have? He definitely is not noted for his high quality productions. Nick Brimble gave the best performance as "The Monster," but why the over-kill of make-up? And why did they have his voice dubbed by another actor?

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