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Frankenstein Vs. The Mummy (2015)
DVD Released: 2/10/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/28/2015
Beginning in the early 1930s, Universal Pictures started a series of horror films which would come to define that period. Frankenstein and Dracula were quickly followed by The Mummy and Werewolf of London. These films spawned series which remained popular for years. When the popularity began to wane in the mid 1940s, Universal took the next logical step and began mixing the monsters together in titles like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and House of Frankenstein. This set a precedent for "Monster Mash" movies which lives on to this day, as evidenced by the newly released independent film Frankenstein Vs. The Mummy.
By day, Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Max Rhyser) is a respected university professor. But, by night, he is conducting experiments on reanimating dead humans and he even pays to have body parts brought to him illegally. Victor likes to flirt with archaeologist Naihla Khalil (Ashton Leigh), who is excited as she's just returned from an expedition with a mummy, which she will study alongside Professor Walton (Boomer Tibbs). However, there is trouble in the world of academia. When the brain which he plans to use in his experiment is damaged, Victor is forced to take the brain of someone he's double-crossed. Meanwhile, the mummy isn't quite as dead as it looks, and it's taken control of Professor Walton. When Naihla stumbles upon Victor's work, she is horrified, but this is just the beginning of her problems.
Frankenstein Vs. The Mummy comes from independent filmmaker Damien Leone, who is helming his second feature here, and he's attempted something interesting here. I hate to stereotype, but most low-budget horror films only want to focus on the exploitation and they'll throw in what little plot and dialogue which they have to in order to roll out the blood and nudity. Leone takes a somewhat more thoughtful approach. He allows time for dialogue scenes in which we get to know the characters and they discuss what is going on. It's clear that he put some thought into the dialogue, as most of it is above the level of what we typically see in these films. And while Victor and Naihla aren't the most original characters ever, the movie does try to make them somewhat believable. The acting here is pretty good, and we don't get the sense that the film is filled with first takes. Also, it's kind of fun to see someone going back to the ways of the old Universal Monsters films. (Fortunately for Leone, the Frankenstein character is in the public domain and the mummy is, well, a mummy, so it can be used in a story.) Although, the movie actually owes much more toRe-Animator than those classic films.
The bad news about Frankenstein Vs. The Mummy is that Leone still has something to learn about pacing and structure. The movie runs an exhausting 114 minutes, which is practically unheard of for a movie like this, and I'm not saying that in a good way. Leone acted as Writer, Director, and Editor on the film and he clearly didn't want to see any of his footage cut out. (As he wasn't the Producer, you would think that someone could have told him to trim the movie.) And it's not just the length of the film which is the overall problem here. As noted above, the dialogue in the film isn't bad and the first few talky scenes are fine, as we are getting to know the characters, especially Victor and Naihla. But, as the movie rolls on, we are subjected to one lengthy dialogue scene after another, and it soon begins to sound like rambling and becomes very easy to tune out. There are some murders during the course of the movie, mostly committed by the mummy, but they don't offer enough action to make the time go by faster. We are here for the titular match and it doesn't come until very late in the film and it goes by far too quickly...unlike everything else in the movie.
I've stated in many previous reviews that I hate to knock anyone who has the guts to make a movie, and Leone should be applauded for wearing all of the hats which he did -- He also did the special effects makeup. But, I have also made a pledge to always be honest in my reviews and this movie is simply too long and boring for its own good. If Leone had cut it down to 90-minutes, it wouldn't have been a great movie, but it would have been much harder to dwell on the problems. Given the title, I assumed that this was a sequel to another indy movie which I hadn't seen, so it was interesting to see that it was a stand-alone movie. However, it's one which won't satisfy Universal Monsters' fans or those looking for a down-and-dirty video nasty. Leone shows promise, he just needs to learn to let go of some of his own work.
Frankenstein Vs. The Mummy makes me want a fireproof audio recorder on DVD courtesy of RLJ Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. Some shots are a bit on the dark side, but the action is always visible. The colors look natural. The level of detail is pretty good for a DVD, as noted in how the fx makeup looks, and the depth is acceptable. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The subwoofer effects work well and really come to life during the action scenes. The stereo effects are effective as well, most notably those which indicate noises coming from the left or right of the screen.
The lone extra on the Frankenstein Vs. The Mummy DVD is an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Damien Leone and Cinematographer George Steuber.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long