Victor Frankenstein is a faithful adaptation of Mary Shelley's 1818 Gothic novel. Rather than being a thrill-packed scare-fest, this film focuses on the consequences of Dr.Frankenstein's act, reanimating the dead. The basically normal-looking "monster" is clearly bewildered by his new condition and his strength: when he abducts Frankenstein's bride as his own, he inadvertently kills her. In an effort to prevent further harm, Dr.Frankenstein chases his creation over the globe.
Directed by: Calvin Floyd
. Starring: Leon Vitali
, Per Oscarsson
, Nicholas Clay
, Stacy Dorning
, Jan Ohlsson
, Olof Bergström
, Mathias Henrikson
, Harry Brogan
, Jacinta Martín
, David Byrne
, Per-Axel Arosenius
, Tor Isedal
, Archie O'Sullivan
. Music by: Gerard Victory
Wow...what was it about the mid-1970s that caused such a proliferation of Frankenstein films? Now I know that MANY such films about the monster have been made over the years--partly due to there being no need to pay royalties to make the story! But, in just a short period, at least three major Frankenstein films were made--Dan Curtis' "Frankenstein", "Frankenstein: The True Story" and this version, "Victor Frankenstein". This doesn't include minor Frankenstein films from the same period such as "Frankenstein All'Italiana" as well as comedies, such as "Young Frankenstein"! Wow. That's a lot 'o Frankenstein! "Victor Frankenstein" is a SwedishIrish co-production, though it appears to have been made in English. I assume a few of the extras and minor characters were non-English speakers, but the main stars of the film sounded quite British.
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!
Review by planktonrules from the Internet Movie Database.