Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare (2006)
By: Julian on August 8, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Unearthed Films (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 76 minutes
The Movie
Director: John R Hand
Starring: John R Hand, Chester Delacruz, Amy Olivastro, Wade Best
Screenplay: John R Hand Music: The Greys
Tagline: "Beyond your most evil desires the beast awaits..."
Country: USA
Ever since nineteen-year-old Mary Shelley penned her story of a crazed doctor and his monster Frankenstein in 1819, the face of horror as an art form, particularly on film, has changed dramatically. The first Frankenstein adaptation on celluloid came in 1910 and, since then, literally dozens of imitators were released, particularly from Universal and Hammer Studios. And the craze shows no sign of stopping. 28-year-old director John R Hand's debut feature, Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare (no apostrophe, a tell-tale sign of what's to come, perhaps?) is an immensely flawed, though admittedly unique, take on Shelley's classic.

Filmed on Super-8 and filled to the brim with various Seventies-esque stylistic elements, Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare follows the story of Victor Karlstein (Hand), who runs a medical research centre. When his girlfriend (Olivastro) dies, Victor is determined to keep her alive, and manages to reanimate her into a hideous ghoul who needs fresh human body parts to remain alive. Cue murder and mayhem, and an inevitable downward spiral, as Victor struggles with his sanity and his monster must constantly hunt for food…

I certainly don't mind style over substance in a film, but when one aspect is displayed to the complete nullification of the other, problems arise. These problems are blatantly evident in Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare – the unusual camera angles, colour filters, distortions and lighting effects distract from every other element of the film, especially the plot. The fact that we have to wade through such abstract visuals to know what the fuck is happening gives birth to some serious pacing problems, and I found myself looking at the running time far too often for such a short film. In saying that, it's clear that Hand had a unique stylistic vision in mind and, more importantly, acted upon it. Hand's influences are also prevalent – one character is named after zero-budget horror filmmaker Andy Milligan, there's a dollop of Argento in the first murder scene and the monster-fisting (yes, it's exactly like it sounds) scene is undoubtedly Cronenbergian. Despite Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare being generally poor, there are moments where Hand as a director shines, and the fact that the popular cult DVD distributor Unearthed picked this film up is testament to this.

Despite these occasional directorial flourishes, Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare remains the mutated spawn of a mad scientist. Like the slow kid at a high school athletics carnival, Hand's debutis well deserving of a good effort ribbon, but little more.
Grainy as hell, but presumably this is intentional. The film is presented in 1:33:1 aspect ratio. With the Super-8 cinematography, Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare has the aesthetic of a low-budget late sixties/early seventies horror film.
One English audio track presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Generally it's pretty good, with only a few moments of dull sound and interference. A director's commentary is presented in Dolby 2.0.
Extra Features
Unearthed have gathered together a nice spread of special features for Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare. First and probably foremost is the director's commentary. What's most refreshing about this is that Hand wears his influences on his sleeve, which is more than what can be said about some other filmmakers who have helmed such 'homages'. There's a twelve minute making-of featurette, which is mostly just Hand talking to the camera, and a photo gallery.

As usual, Unearthed have given us some of its finest trailers, which are something of an antidote to the evasive, 'approved for all ages' teasers usually found on a DVD. The trailers contained are Frankenhooker, Lethal Force, Nails, Visions of Suffering, Red Room, City of Rott and Bone Sickness. A trailer for Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare is also included.
The Verdict
There's no doubt that Hand has crafted an immensely surrealistic and experimental film with Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare, but is it a good one? In short, no. It's too far-out, non-linear and incoherent to be anything but a failure, even for the most broad-minded of cult/indie connoisseurs. However, what Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare does showcase is the possible arrival of a new talent, a fresh, young director not afraid to try new and innovative things behind the camera, at least in a visual sense. Hook Mr Hand up with a decent script and take away the cult-for-cult's-sake pretensions, and I don't doubt that the product could be a great piece of cinema. But while Hand may be a name to look out for in the future, I doubt most horror fans would lose sleep if they missed this.
Movie Score
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