Battle of the century? Not so much.
What movie fan wouldn’t want to see a flick called Frankenstein vs. The Mummy? I mean, it’s Frankenstein fighting the Mummy! What could go wrong?
At a university, Victor Frankenstein (Max Rysher) has some strange theories about medical science, and reviving dead tissue. Down the hall, fellow teacher Naihla Khalil (Ashton Leigh) has recently returned from a trip to Egypt, bringing back a mummy for study. While Victor and Naihla fall in love, the mummy wakes with a thirst for blood, and the creature in Victor’s lab comes to life and cannot be controlled.
Although the creators did what they could with the low budget, including some great practical gore effects, the low budget still hampers the film quite a bit. The two monsters look appropriately monstrous, but we spend a lot of time away from them so the human characters can pursue this love story of theirs. The sets are mostly nondescript and cheap-looking, so it comes off as ridiculous that this generic school can have its own mummy and its own underground science lab.
Making Victor Frankenstein both the hero and the romantic lead also confuses the film. We have to believe that Victor is this great guy so Naihla will fall for him. Yet when we get to scenes that a supposed to depict the character’s famous obsession and hubris, it’s like he’s a whole other person rather than two sides of the same coin.
Putting Frankenstein and the Mummy at odds should have been an opportunity to examine the parallels between the two — they’re both monsters revived from the dead, but through different means. Frankenstein is confused and misunderstood, while the mummy is conniving and sinister. Sadly, this movie does not play up such thematic parallels. Both monsters are more or less zombie-like, and each is in its own separate story until the last few minutes when they finally meet.
About that final battle. How would you think such a confrontation would go down? On a rainy rooftop with lightning flashing all around? Inside a pharaoh’s torch-lit, gold-laden crypt? No, the monsters meet in a basement, swing their arms around a little, wrestle for a while, and that’s it. Further, the monsters hadn’t interacted at all before that point, so there’s no real reason for them to fight, except that the movie’s called Frankenstein vs. The Mummy so that’s what we’re all expecting.
After feeling left cold by the movie, I then listened to the commentary, with director Damien Leone (All Hallows’ Eve). This is a guy who loves the filmmaking process, even as he admits it is not glamorous. Additionally, he’s a walking Frankenstein encyclopedia, dropping all kinds of trivia bits about the original Mary Shelley novel and the many adaptations over the years. Knowing that the movie is such a labor of love for those who made had me seeing it in a new light, and gave me a newfound respect for it I didn’t previously have.
The DVD’s picture and audio are as good as they can be, given the bargain filmmaking. The commentary is the only extra.