Frankenstein Reborn

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Dr. Victor Franks (Rhett Giles) is under arrest, suspected of multiple murder , and undergoing psychiatric evaluation at a mental hospital.

Dr. Emily Hertz (Amanda Barton) is initially carrying out the interviews but when she can take no more of the sinister Dr. Franks, Dr. Robert Walton (Thomas Downey) takes over.

Victor now starts to recount his tale to Walton, about his privately funded work into using nanotechnology to 'resurrect' dead cells.

He is helped by Hank Clerval (Jeff Denton), his lover Elizabeth Weatherly (Eliza Swenson) and Rebekkah Clarke (Christina Rosenberg), with whom he shares drug-fuelled threesomes with Elizabeth.

Bryce Daniels (Joel Hebner) is the subject of the experiments as he has, following a motorbike accident, lost almost all motor function and the nanoprobes will hopefully rebuild his damaged nerves and cells.

But Franks secretly injects himself with the nanoprobes, wondering if they will retain his nervous systems details when removed and hooked up to a computer. Big mistake, as our Doc is not really all there!

A side-effect though of using these 'contaminated' nanoprobes on Bryce is that he now suffers from horrific hallucinations, mania and a drive to commit acts of extreme violence.

After a raving Bryce confronts Victor, the Doctor kills him.

But covering up his patient's disappearance causes more problems and Jessica Halverson (Sarah Lieving), the less than happy representative of the backers, holds back further funds.

A desperate Franks persuades Hank to use Bryce's corpse in an experiment to see if a whole dead body could be 're-born' if the nanoprobes are introduced throughout the entire system, the main computer links being secured inside the skull by opening up Bryce's face!

Sure enough the experiment works and the now horribly disfigured, and just as disturbed, Bryce has become Franks's very own monster.

A monster he uses to kill al those who are in his way or have betrayed him, but this is a murderous rampage Frank's has little control over it seems...

Made for an estimated $500,000, this updating of Mary Shelley's oft filmed "Frankenstein" is actually a very impressive creation for the most part and certainly one of the best efforts from prolific Indy production/distribution company 'The Asylum' ("Cannibal Detour").

A wonderfully gruesome opening (a woman is slammed onto a table and has her legs ripped off) leads into a marvellously effective title sequence (backed with a nice score by 'Regan') that rightly signposts to the viewer that the makers (Leigh Slawner has worked with much of the same cast on various productions) are taking this adaptation seriously and not pandering to the over-used comical approach to much Indy horror output.

The acting by all concerned is perfectly acceptable and never grating, and Giles and Downey are especially good. Giles has fun with Franks, but he never makes fun of him or plays up to the camera ensuring that (wobbly accent aside) Franks remains a serious villain throughout the movie.

Some of the conversations though are made difficult to understand at times due to a pretty lousy sound mix that often has dialogue coming through very quietly and often drown out by ambient noise.

Something that does seem to be an ongoing problem with many 'Asylum' productions if Internet feedback is anything to go by. But a spot of remote control manipulation solves the problem.

Technically the aforementioned sound problems are the only problems here. The film looks great with some fine Cinematography by Steven Parker that more often than not belies the low budget origins of the film.

Set design and special effects are also very good with a nicely atmospheric 'dungeon' laboratory and some nicely messy gore.

These gore highlights include a very nasty razor blade attack hallucination' lots of entrails and spattered blood, the gruesome sawing off of a head and a stomach pierced by glass shards.

The monster make-up is also great (with slightly more gruesome shades of the macabre version of the monster by veteran comic artist Bernie Wrightson) and the creature's yellowed skin, exposed skull , and strands of long, lank hair hanging down his ruined face make ensure that this version of Frankenstein's Monster is extremely memorable and Joel Hebner does a fine job at essaying him in the short time he has.

The flashback structure to the screenplay (by Slawner) seems simple enough at first, but soon becomes needlessly messy due to the decision to show many of the flashbacks out of order or to skip back and forth with them (sometimes repeating scenes), but this does not seem to serve any narrative or artistic purpose and only succeeds in slowing down the progression of the story.

It also fractures the narrative so much that many of the relationships between the characters become disjointed, this especially hurts the relationship (and it's evolution) between Franks and the monster which becomes extremely murky as we are never able to see it grow along a linear time-frame.

This narrative structure is the film's main fault and it's a shame that it mars an otherwise fine piece of (thankfully) serious horror film making.

But overall the positives outweigh the negatives and all in all "Frankenstein Reborn" offers much to enjoy for the horror buff and happily throws enough blood, gore (and even a few welcome breasts) into the mix to keep anyone happy. The fact it's (some sound issues aside) also very well made and generally well acted by all does no harm either!

Reviewed by 42nd Street Freak