Frankenstein Vs. The Mummy (Movie Review)

Frankenstein Vs. The Mummy (Movie Review)
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PLOT: Young medical philosopher Victor Frankenstein seeks to prove immortality by reanimating a corpse of various body parts and harvested organs. His Egyptologist girlfriend, Naihla, just discovered an ancient accursed mummified pharaoh that she's had delivered to campus for study. It's time two legendary horror icons square-off in FRANKENSTEIN VS. THE MUMMY.

REVIEW: So who's your money on, ol' Frankie or Mr. Mummy? Well, after a couple of short films and a tepidly met anthological feature debut in ALL HALLOW'S EVE, writer/director Damien Leone has taken on a herculean task of mashing-up two indelibly iconic horror legends in his sophomore stint FRANKENSTEIN VS. THE MUMMY - a movie that, despite bucking traditional character tropes, being needlessly overlong and a bit of a misnomer until the final ten minutes or so - is pretty entertaining in its dual-plot strands and gore-sodden carnage. A Hammer Film this ain't, definitely not your gramps' FRANKENSTEIN or MUMMY bash of musty mood and brooding atmosphere...but if you're looking for a rotten stew of flesh, blood, bone, puss and guts...by all means, give this manic-monster-mash a taste!

The flicks kicks off with a rather young Victor Frankenstein (Max Rhyser) shadily paying off some vagrant to snuff a dude out. We later learn that, as a result of witnessing his mother commit suicide as a kid and thereby wanting to prove immortality (makes sense right?) , the good Doc will later harvest organs from the murdered victim to reanimate his very own monster. As he secretly moonlights on that project in a dingy basement lab, he woos his girlfriend Naihla fresh off an archaeological dig in Giza. There she exhumed and discovered the 3,000 year old mummified remains of an ancient pharaoh. Along with the corpse a scroll was left claiming the soul of the pharaoh's body is still trapped inside, and severe peril lie ahead if any dare release said energy. But you can already guess what happens, right?

Not quite. In the mix is a senior professor, Walton, who inadvertently expels the gaseous spirit from the pharaoh's putrid and petrified corpse. The old bastard even breathes in the noxious fumes, faints, draws nosebleeds and headaches before morphing into an all out psycho-murderer. Under direct orders, he feeds just enough lifeblood into the corpse that it reanimates on its own before going on an indiscriminant slaughter-spree. Meanwhile, old Doc is inching closer and closer to bringing to life his own murderous monster. A few snags and snares, a brain lost, a brain gained...and soon Frankenstein's creation - curiously called Carter (I think named after the original brain carrier) - is looking for fresh flesh to feast upon. A few viciously excoriated bodies out of his way, Carter meets his ultimate match in the crusty and dustily desiccated mummy!

A few unforeseen plot wrinkles ensue, but we'll let you discover those on your own if you so desire. Instead I'll opt to bang the drum for the films strength, which is undoubtedly the unremitting grue and grime spewed throughout. Seriously, the gore in this picture is pretty fucking delicious. It really is. There's no shortage of ripped out and chomped upon hearts, still beating, with geysers of blood drenching the entire locale, get graphic money shots aplenty: of nastily slit throats disemboguing a river of blood, gory organs freshly harvested from either a still breathing or freshly deceased victim, torn apart jawbones and shredded limbs, vile gut-stabbings and splattered brain-matter. No shite, for the insatiable gore hounds out there, FRANKENSTEIN VS. THE MUMMY should do more than enough to bridge your fill till the next fix. Thing is, if the films unbridled carnage is the strong point, pretty much every other aspect of the film falls by the wayside.

In particular, the biggest drag on this film is the maudlin romantic interactions between Victor and Naihla. First off, the sheer notion of this Max Rhyser fella (Victor) being a college professor of any kind rather than an Abercrombie extra he appears to be molded after - is nothing short of ludicrous. Silliness. Worse yet though, if you can move past that, are the romantic advances toward Naihla (played well enough by cute newcomer Ashton Leigh). She's really cute and all, and more buyable as an Egyptologist than Rhyser is a medical philosophy professor. But the gauche dinner-date scene, the sobbing confessional in the car over his suicidal mom, the sappy sex-scene, the interstitial lovey-dovey moments occurring in the middle of a tense action sequence...this is where the film suffers, not just substantively, but these scenes disrupt the fun-flow of the horror segments and pad the runtime to an unforgivable 114 minutes. Honestly, if this sucker lopped off a good 10-15 minutes (of romance), I believe the film would be far more effective.

I get trying to earn sympathy for your characters in order to care for them when shit gets grisly, as it's usually a must in most horror flicks. But in this movie, with so few characters (a whole baker's dozen credited), I actually feel such effort is less necessary and actually hinders the pace of and strength of the film. Since our heroes are so clearly delineated in opposition to the rest of the heinous baddies, we already know who to side with, if not fully root for. It's clear from jump street. Any extra stress and strain to prove these leads likeable feels that way, forced, and only ends up dragging the film on far longer than it should. Odd to say that, I know, but here the attempt at character development (through romance) doesn't serve the flick for the better.

While certainly more enjoyable than expected, I also wasn't a huge fan of the design of Frankenstein's monster in the movie. What gives? Why buck tradition and stray away from ol' Bolt-Neck, or a recognizable descendant of such. Instead we get a slick-talking, leather-wearing, cigarette-smoking, Brandon Lee-in-the-CROW-looking-bad-boy? Please! I understand the temptation to offer a character update, so to remain fresh, but this f*ckin FRANKENSTEIN we're talking about. The tradition is too rich is my opinion to alienate the fan-base and morph such a well known character into something out of a Rob Zombie movie. Also, and this is a much more minor issue for me, the titular showdown of the two legendary monsters (by contrast the mummy's design was the shit!) never actually comes until the final ten minutes. To be expected, that part, I suppose...but still a tad of a gyp.

In the end, I'm giving FRANKENSTEIN VS. THE MUMMY a minor recommendation, particularly for all you bloodhounds and gut-fiends. But for those expecting a traditionally moody, atmospheric monster-movie of yore, a la Hammer, this probably isn't going to jive too well. Even if I wasn't too keen on the visual aesthetic of Frankenstein's creation, or the drawn-out runtime due to maudlin romance, I found the hyper-violence and inevitable monster showdown (even if it took forever to get there) entertaining enough.

Extra Tidbit: FRANKENSTEIN vs THE MUMMY hits DVD on February 10th; pre-order the disc HERE.
Source: AITH



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