Terror of Frankenstein (1977)
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However in 1977,Calvin Floyd decided to make this superb film with his wife Yvonne Floyd that is a Swedish-Irish production. Terror Of Frankenstein is the result and it is this writer's opinion that it's the best version of the very difficult Mary Shelley novel which was first known as The Fate Of Frankenstein Or The Modern Prometheus.This Classic novel was written in the early part of the 19th century. This is not Kenneth Brannagh's film(thankfully). Terror Of Frankenstein in it's own way is a disturbing adaption that while closely following a classic piece of literature,this filmmaker was able to find a way to tell a story about a man and his genius dooming himself,his family,his friend and his creation ...all because this man's genius wasn't farsighted enough to handle an enormous mistake...that mistake was the Frankenstein Monster.This film stars: Leon Vitali in an excellent performance as Victor Frankenstein, Per Oscarsson as Frankenstein's Monster, Stacy Dorning as Elizabeth Frankenstein and Nicholas Clay as a superbly cast and unique version of Henry Clerval.
This Frankenstein is set in the 19th century as well ...and Victor Frankenstein follows the philosophy of alchemists.Soon after this film begins, Victor wants to study in Ingolstadt at a medical university where he can advance in his studies. Frankenstein rents his own rooms there and after studying life in closer detail,he decides to create life in a dead man who's made up of other parts of dead men.The creation scene is not a moment to equal the Universal or Hammer scenes of Frankenstein creating life from the dead...it's really a scene of surprise as this gigantic,patchwork man comes to life while Frankenstein realizes that his enormous man is not a man who's perfect in every bit of his being;HE'S AN 8 FT.TALL,BLACK-LIPPED,MOANING,MONSTER!(later in this film the audience is given a chance to look at the creation scene in greater depth and detail) Victor Frankenstein is terrified by his creation and passes out on his bed from fright. Frankenstein is later visited by Henry Clerval who takes his friend back to the Frankenstein family home.
While Victor Frankenstein is recovering at his family home,his little brother William is murdered for no apparent reason. Later,Frankenstein is forced to meet with his Monster who's now verbally adept and begging his creator for a mate. Frankenstein relents and goes to a remote area of Scotland where he begins working on a mate for his Monster...but he stops when he realizes how this creation could create evil for mankind if the Monster and this mate were to give birth to an entire race of monsters! The Monster begs Frankenstein to continue but the creator cannot and will not continue.The Monster(with this new turn of events) warns Frankenstein,"I will be with you on your wedding night". Victor prepares to return to his home while the Monster murders Henry Clerval. Victor and Elizabeth's wedding ceremony is played not with a sense of joy but with a sense of doom as the scene is played from Victor's feelings and point of view as he and Elizabeth are walking toward the altar.The musical score and the way Victor keeps looking around the church allows the viewer to know he's not forgotten his Monster's warning while high pitched musical notes suggest a foreboding menace is all around them and can strike at anytime.
On their wedding night,the Monster keeps his promise and murders Elizabeth by strangling her to death. Victor Frankenstein has to bury the last of his family and takes it upon himself to follow The Monster to the arctic. Finally Frankenstein comes upon a ship that's trapped in the ice.Frankenstein is now showing the effects of everything that he's been through.He's put on a bed in the Captain's quarters. That evening,the Monster comes aboard the ship and both creator and creation bitterly face each other but it's Victor Frankenstein who reaches out for his creation in a fit of rage screaming,"MONSTER!!"Frankenstein now dies and the Monster tells the ship's captain that he has nothing left to live for.This Frankenstein Monster leaves the ship and ventures off into the arctic never to be seen again. Per Oscarsson's Monster is an intelligent and cunning being whose brain works perfectly. This writer declares that this film is superb but not excellent. Even if the viewer watches this film only once...it is still worth the experience.Don't miss this Classic.
Mindlessly translating the events of the book page-by-page to the screen, the film neglects to cover its characters in any emotional depth. Leon Vitali is a great bore as Victor Frankenstein (while unattractive enough that he may have been better cast in the role of the monster!), while the creature itself lacks all of its traditional sympathetic traits. The frightened, misguided and hurt creature of the novel and most movie adaptations is here just a banal, generic villain who isn't even that monstrous in appearance. As is sadly the case with even a lot of the better adaptations of the story, his alleged ugliness and deformity is so minor and subtle that it's hard to fathom how anyone could be scared of him based purely on his appearance. Here he resembles a lipstick-wearing rocker rather than any kind of monster... not only would he barely turn heads if placed on the street but he'd probably get all the goth and rock chicks swooning for him! Supporting cast members add nothing to the whole sorry affair either- Elizabeth, in her minimal number of scenes, is particularly annoying and you wonder why she keeps insisting on marrying Victor when they don't share a single intimate or affectionate moment throughout the whole movie and she's done nothing but complain about how he doesn't love her enough.
As a previous reviewer mentioned, the bizarre lack of incidental music does not help the film in the slightest, the camera angles and directing style are unimaginative and create no suspense, and ultimately we end up just not caring what happens to any of these characters in the end. The only real moments of genuine entertainment along the way are a few unintentionally funny moments of bad acting.
As it stands, this amateurish production is by far the weakest of all the numerous TV versions of the story, and is for completists only. For anyone wishing to see a good solid version of Mary Shelley's classic tale, skip this and go for the two far superior TV versions from 1973, namely the legendary "Frankenstein: The True Story" and the brilliantly acted Dan Curtis-directed version starring Bo Svenson.
I've been watching every Frankenstein film in my collection in a marathon, and that includes a number of adaptations, and it's interesting to note the differences in details and styles between them. Some things that stand out in this, from the beginning, include how wonderful some of the characters are, like Elizabeth (fiancee), William (younger brother), Henry (dashing best friend), and the comparatively dull and rather homely (in my opinion!) Victor does look nuts to be going away to school when he's got such a great home life. Then there's Prof. Waldman, who at first dismisses Victor's interest in alchemy and magic, then a mere 2 years later, actually encourages him to continue whatever experiment he's doing (despite moments earlier suggesting he take a much-needed vacation with his family), on a "grander scale"-- thus unwittingly planting the seed for the horrible, "unholy" experiment to come! Nearing the end, Victor suddenly starts asking himself, "What am I DOING?" --but continues anyway! And for the first time in any adaptation, he actually RUNS AWAY in fear from what he's brought to life, then wonders if he didn't imagine it, then nervously goes home for the holidays with his best friend, after being unable to locate his creation.
And suddenly William, the sort of younger brother I wish I'D had, gets murdered-- for no apparent reason. Only when Victor catches up with the killer do we learn what went on in the meantime. Having recently seen the Dan Curtis version, which may the 2ND-most faithful adaptation, I have to say I think that film made a wise decision to eliminate the flashback structure and tell everything in the order it happened. (This entire film is one long flashback, as it STARTS in the Arctic, with Victor telling his story to the ship captain who's hell-bent on expanding man's horizons and seeking unknown benefits to mankind-- at whatever the cost! Interesting parallel there.) Also, every time the DC version made changes, it wound up making the creature MORE sympathetic, more sad, and that wound up turning that film into a heart-wrenching tragedy. Not so here. This monster is either amoral, or just plain EVIL, depending on mood-swings-- and repeatedly justifies every destructive action it takes-- like BURNING DOWN the house of the old blind man. After seeing the blind man and/or his family in several versions, even I was shocked by that turn! One minor failing of the DC version is the scene when Victor changes his mind about creating a mate-- SECONDS before completing the job. It was a moment that seemed ill-explained within that story. Here, Victor changes his mind after witnessing another family NEEDLESSLY slaughtered by his creation. How IS he to trust someone so blatantly evil? If anything, one might ask, WHY didn't he pack some serious firepower and try to KILL his monster when he was alone with the guy? (Of course, that's not how the author wrote it...) The ending, like the rest, remains faithful, as Victor dies (from exhaustion and stress?) before his creation's eyes, who then laments to the ship captain how Victor created him-- but then refused to take responsibility for life, and that now, death is the only consolation he has, as in death, he will no longer be a monster.
Now, maybe in other hands, a truly faithful adaptation still awaits to be made which can also be artistically and emotionally compelling-- which this, admittedly, kinda falls short of. I'm afraid after all the carnage, I really had NO sympathy left for the monster at all, and not much more for Victor. I recommend to anyone who likes this film, to follow it up with a viewing of the Dan Curtis version-- and SEE if that one doesn't tear your heart out (emotionally speaking) by the end.
Begins fairly well enough. It follows the book for the most part. It changes how the creature got the journal, how his hair looks (though it is long). Justine is left out entirely. Neither Victor or his creation are portrayed that sympathetically here. I think that's why I prefer the 2004 Hallmark version because you can see the mistakes they both make, the cruelty they both have, and yet you can also pity both of them.
This version is not bad but it's slowly paced. It's odd. The 2004 Hallmark Frankenstein (which is a bit more faithful to the book in regard to how the creature looked and maintaining all the characters) is three hours yet this hour and a half version feels longer. It would also have done well with a better budget.
Oh, one thing that I was very happy about is that they remembered Victor Frankenstein had not made the creature with pure science. He had studied books on alchemy and the occult, magick, Agrippa and Paracelsus. He even discussed homunculi. Very few versions acknowledge that there may have been alchemy and even magick in the creature's creation. Few people realize this was not an anti-science "Don't meddle in the affairs of God" story. The creature would have been fine if he had not been rejected by his creator. It was about parental responsibility, judging by appearances, forgiveness and how revenge brings no peace. Those were those were the real lessons of Mary Shelley's story.
This version is not bad but I still strongly prefer the 2004 Hallmark mini-series of Frankenstein.
This isn't a bad Frankenstein but the 2004 version with Luke Goss remains my favorite. I am happy this version exists so it's not a film I regret watching. I don't think there is any film I truly regret watching. There are just some films I feel better about being in existence than others because of what effort goes in to them. This tried to be true to the book but the 2004 Hallmark version with Luke Goss simply did it better.
Also it was a little hard for me to get used to the light haired creature. He was so much like the book, including hair length, save for the hair color. It's a petty detail but it stood out for me.
Something about it was a little dry, a little dispassionate. It's not horrible, just weak. Like the BBC play version of The Picture of Dorian Gray.
At least they tried to follow the book.
Unlike most Frankenstein stories, this one starts at the end! This sort of non-linear storytelling abounds in the movie--sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The Doctor is found on the ice by a ship--so I guess that he managed to survive the final confrontation with his creation that ends Mary Shelley's novel. On board, the crazy Doc tells the crew about his life and how he was able to create a living creature out of the dead. Considering most Frankenstein films never even mention the Arctic locale at the end of the novel, this film is decidedly closer to the book than the Universal films--though, I still must admit that despite this, the old Universal films are great fun.
Much of Dr. Frankenstein's story shows the steps well before he begins creating a monster--making it a bit different than the average film. You see a few scenes in which he's working on animal dissections and a few animals are being tormented by him. While most of these scenes are not that explicit, they are still a bit hard for a sensitive person to take (such as seeing a cow about to be bludgeoned)--and I doubt if you'll be hearing representatives from PETA endorsing this version any time in the near future--though I am pretty sure they'd be okay with most Frankenstein films that show him experimenting on people as well as the human fetuses in jars (yuck!).
As far as the actual process through which the monster is created, it's pretty obvious that this is a very low-budget production. While the film doesn't exactly look cheap, many of the usual special effects and electronic gizmos are notably absent--making this portion of the movie seem quite minimalistic. The production is apparently so poor that Dr. Frankenstein couldn't afford an assistant like Fritz or Igor to help him release his kites or steal body parts. And, unlike most Frankenstein films, this one looks more the creature was created in a barn or old house--not the typical old castle or mansion. None of this is bad, however, just different, as Shelley's story never actually talked about the creation process other than to say he used body parts. Suffice to say, this Frankenstein didn't seem like a rich Baron--more like a struggling student with a mountain of student loans to eventually repay! After the monster is created, the story bounces around--again, in a very non-linear fashion that I found annoying. I liked the way the film started, but later this style really was disconcerting. Again and again, I thought the film forgot important parts of the book--only to see the story backtrack and show this missing portion. For example, after the monster is created, the Doctor disappears--going to a friend's house for an extended stay. The next thing that happens is that the monster kills Doctor Frankenstein's brother--what happened to all the things in between?! Then, after the monster and Doctor meet, the monster tells what happened in the intervening interval--sort of filling in the gaps. Unfortunately, the fill-in material seemed sketchy and incomplete---and rushed.
Overall, this story manages to do something I always thought was impossible. It DID follow the book rather closely (much more than other versions) but it also managed to be dull and listless--and suck a bit as well. The indifferent energy level, lack of incidental music, bizarre non-sequential story and rather dull monster (who looked too ordinary--not very monstrous at all) all worked together to undo the story. It just felt as if the film makers were trying to get the project done QUICKLY. The loving style and script of the Dan Curtis version just wasn't present. And, the fun and creepiness of the Universal version wasn't there as well. It's all a bit of a disappointment.
A couple other observations about the film. It is probably the brownest Frankenstein film ever. Part of it is undoubtedly due to the sets, locales and the director's vision. In addition, the DVD print shows some degradation in the form of yellowing--making things appear even more brownish. In addition, the DVD sucks because it offers no closed captions nor DVD captions--a serious negative for my deaf daughter who wanted to see the film with me. Plus, I just like to use captions now that I am old and decrepit and 45!
By the way, this Frankenstein monster is the least monstrous in film history! Just some black lipstick on a hippie is all he appears to be!
Cinematically, the film is rather drab. Too many sustained static shots and a rather sparse score bog the film down a bit, and the acting is too uneven. Some performances are great, while others are mediocre, and a few are simply bad.
Overall, the film feels a bit uneven and minimalistic, but it doesn't stray into some of the ridiculous areas that many Frankenstein films do. If only the direction were a bit more lively and the running time a bit longer (in order to include more of the important notes from the novel), it could have been a great film.
One considerable step down from Kenneth Branaugh's 1994 adaptation.