• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Frankenstein Unbound

TITLE: Frankenstein Unbound

YEAR: 1990

GENRE: Horror

The mythology of author Mary Shelley’s legendary monster Frankenstein has been translated by at least sixteen Hollywood productions not including literally dozens of sequels and special appearances in cartoons, comedies, and horror films. Most of the renditions portray the creation as a slow lumbering abomination of science when in the source material he is more of a compassionate character, a misunderstood mistake of science that is literally a stranger in a strange land. Fortunately this is an aspect of the story that renowned B-movie director/producer Roger Corman understands, and in his interpretation of the Frankenstein mythology he aptly displays this side of the monster in Frankenstein Unbound, one of the better films starring the literary creature.

In the near future scientist Dr. Joe Buchanan (played by John Hurt) develops a weapon that vaporizes the enemy in an effort to eliminate the threat of war from the planet by giving the United States the grandest bludgeon in any country’s arsenal. There is a flaw in his creation however, as upon firing it opens a wormhole portal that transports Buchanan and his ultra modern car to 1817 Switzerland. There he meets Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Raul Julia), where he is having problems with his own scientific experiments as The Monster (Nick Brimble) he created has committed murder. Dr. Buchanan also meets Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Bridget Fonda), who is the future author of the classic book and an acquaintance of Dr. Frankenstein. Dr. Frankenstein covers up the death and frames a young nanny (Catherine Corman, Roger’s daughter) which does not set well with Dr. Buchanan. More murders are covered up, but when The Monster kills Dr. Frankenstein’s fiancée Elizabeth (Catherine Rabett) Dr. Buchanan unwillingly helps the diabolical doctor to create another scientific atrocity.

Frankenstein Unbound, which also used Brian Aldiss’ novel of the same name for creative reference, is a decent homage to the mythology for several reasons. First of all Corman surrounded himself with some quality thespians who gave great performances: Hurt is utterly fantastic as the scientist lost in time and Julia does a great job as the insane doctor with a very believable presentation. The storyline is also interesting in that one scientist from the 21st century who has creation an abomination of science (the wrinkle in time) meets a 19th century scientist who has also created an abomination (the monster), and their conversations on the morality of their work is interesting. The Monster portrayal is also especially good: although considered an abomination of science by just about everybody he is a creature who desires love and friendship and as a result becomes compassionate to the viewer. Dr. Buchanan’s car complete with a “Knight Rider” K.I.T.T.-style computer (voiced by Terri Treas) is about as awesome and stylish as futuristic cars get and is even funny at times: when the car discovers that it and Dr. Buchanan are in the 19th century it states “Scientifically speaking, we are out in the sticks”. As with most of Corman’s work, Frankenstein Unbound was shot with a limited budget and a strict time frame, but the end result production-wise is especially crisp and clean. One aspect that did not work was the historical accuracy, in which the early 19th century has many items that would not be available at the time. In addition, the film was shot in Italy and the occasional plant and tree appear that would be foreign to the much farther north Switzerland.

Although he has produced literally a couple hundred films since Frankenstein Unbound, this was Corman’s last directorial appearance. Corman will be leaving an indelible legacy with the numerous directors, producers and other behind the scene talents that have cut their teeth with his productions, and Frankenstein Unbound will be remembered as one of his better directorial pieces.

* * * 1/2

–Mark

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