Frankenstein Unbound

(Roger Corman, USA, 1990)


Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound is a more interesting film than critical discussion has generally given it credit for. Even Corman himself, as it seemed from an appearance he made in Australia in the late ’90s, is surprised that anyone would give it any due.

The miracle – after a decade in which the director opportunistically revised his oeuvre through a camp-pop optic (in his autobiography and especially the woeful Not of This Earth [1988] remake [1995]) – is that the film ended up so straight.

Frankenstein Unbound is true pulp poetry, a seriously metaphysical B movie, despite a ten-million dollar budget and a certain species of stars (John Hurt, Raul Julia, Michael Hutchence).

It has a curiously patchwork, artificialist quality that (as loyal British Corman devotees including Richard Combs remarked) resonates well with the human-synthetic-hybrid themes of the story, and with the aesthetic of exploitation cinema in general.

In its flamboyant mix of genre mythologies, historical stereotypes and fanciful sci-fi extrapolations, Frankenstein Unbound rightfully holds a place in the video shop pantheon alongside involuntarily surrealist gems like Future Cop (aka Trancers, 1985).

MORE Corman: The St Valentine’s Day Massacre

© Adrian Martin November 1991

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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