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THE FRANKENSTEIN SYNDROME
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Reviewed by: Ammon Gilbert

Directed by: Sean Tretta

Starring:
Tiffany Shepis
Louis Mandylor
Patti Tindall
Ed Lauter
Scott Anthony Leet

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
While covertly working on a healing serum, a team of scientists accidentally produce a serum that can bring the dead back to life. But once their latest subject is reanimated, the fatal error of their way comes to light, transforming the man from the mental state of a child to something above and beyond, and completely out-of-control.
Is it good movie?
Movies based on Mary Shelly’s FRANKENSTEIN are a dime a dozen at this point so for a flick to really take on the classic tale it has to do something different in order to survive and be unique. Same could probably also be said for H.P. Lovecraft’s tale of the RE-ANIMATOR—but I suppose those are mostly taken care of by the RE-ANIMATOR film series and less on the multiple interpretations of the original work (like Mary Shelly). In both respects, THE FRANKESTEIN SYNDROME manages to deliver a unique psychological horror flick, focusing on the horrifying events that Shelly and Lovecraft wrote about, but managed to give it a (semi) new twist. And while it’s far from perfect, it manages to deliver a fairly entertaining ride with plenty of gore and scares to go around.

THE FRANKESTEIN SYNDROME is what happens when Shelly and Lovecraft’s world collide, pitting scientists into the role of God, and bringing back the dead through experimental regeneration. Set in modern times, the film also has the RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES or DEEP BLUE SEA approach / mentality, working on a cure for something that would bring a lot of joy to the world, but with deadly side effects. For a low budget indie film, the flick extremely high production values, as each scene is shot well and looks fantastic on screen—so well, in fact, that it pretty much looks like a big budget Hollywood movie! Not bad for a flick like this, not bad at all.

But beyond the quality look and feel of the film, THE FRANKESTEIN SYNDROME has a pretty solid script and story that’s far superior than the title (and cheesy cover art) would lead you to believe. Maybe it’s the way the scientific terms and processes are thrown around that gives it a more legit feel, or the fact that it was quite obviously shot on location in some abandoned hospital somewhere, or that when they explain what they plan on doing (and their execution of that plan), I almost believed that it could work. Whatever it was, the script was relatively smart and the acting went above and beyond from what you would expect.

Speaking of acting, my hat goes off to Tiffany Shepis in her role as the scientist with a conscious, as she gives probably one of the best performances of her career here, showing off intense emotion, passion, and the appearance of scientific know-how that had me believing everything she said. Props! The rest of the cast also rocked their roles and then some, especially the super-bitchy Patti Tindall, who gave us a character that you respect… but also really f*ckin’ hate.

With all this praise it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t a perfect movie, but what can I say? As much as the film had going for it, it had going against it. For starters, I hate the title—it really deserved better than coming off like some cheap knock-off of Mary Shelly’s classic novel. I didn’t like Louis Mandylor as the film’s “monster”—he was too much of a brute, meatball, bodyguard type personality that made it difficult to see him other than being a homicidal maniac. It would have been far scarier if a smaller, more fragile-like person were in the role, so when he finally goes ape shit it’s slightly unexpected and from out of nowhere.

The format worked ok for me (told through flashbacks via a police interview), but I didn’t care for the opening of the film as it gave away a little too much as to where the film was going. Having some mystery in there would have been great. Also, I had some issues with the strong hold the scientists boss and henchmen had over the scientists, treating them more like prisoners than people there out of their own free will. It made sense within the film, I guess, but you gotta wonder why any of them really agreed to be treated like convicts or why they wouldn’t demand better working conditions. I get that scientists are weird, but this was a little ridiculous.

In the end, THE FRANKENSTEIN SYNDROME was a pretty decent little flick that I’d recommend people check out, if not to see Shepis giving a great performance, but just to see well-made psychological thriller. And while we’ve seen this story (more or less) done a hundred times, it had a slightly different twist to it that made it work well on its own.

Video / Audio
Video: Presented in 2.35:1 widesscreen, the flick is crisp and clear, with the colors as vibrant and as professional film-quality as you can get. The overall look and feel of the film is impressive and scores above its tiny budget.

Audio: Mixed in 5.1 audio, the sound was less low and didn't utilize the surround sound capabilities that it had to work with. For the most part, it felt as though it was mixed in 2.0 Mono, with random loud moments sent through all speakers, but not consistent enough to make you feel truly immersed in the experience.

The Extras
Commentary with director Sean Tretta and Tiffany Shepis: This is your standard commentary track with Tretta and Shepis talking all about the making of the film, why they made certain choices here and there, all sorts of other insights into the process. Will give you even more respect for the film than before!

Alternate Openings with Commentary: There are two alternate opening sequences presented here, each one with Tretta explaining why they went another direction. This is where the film's original title The Prometheus Project is proudly displayed. While I didn't love the film's final opening sequence, I can see why it was chosen over these two, though they each have their perks.

Deleted Scenes with Commentary: There are three deleted scenes presented (with commentary, of course!), each one giving a little more insight into the film but nothing that will blow your mind or change your views of the final film. The two alternate scenes are pretty cool, mostly cause they decided to make each of the scenes ("Neeraj leaves" and "Ott dies") a lot more gruesome and violent than originally intended.

Trailers: You can check out the trailer for the film as well as trailers for other MTI releases, including ACCUSED AT 17, CHAINED, CLOSED FOR THE SEASON, and THE ECHO GAME.

Last Call
A nice twist to the FRANKENSTEIN / RE-ANIMATOR storyline that rocked a decent script, a polished look, and some great performances by its cast, including the great Tiffany Shepis. Far from a perfect movie, the film has more going for it than against it and equals a relatively entertaining—and horrifying—good time.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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