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shock-o-rama presents
Rock & Roll Frankenstein (1999)

"This is a big moment, Mr. Peepers. If everything goes according to plan, we can accelerate to the next phase of the rejuvenation process. This cow head looks a lot like you did when I first found you, Mr. Peepers. Of course, you were still alive then."
- Frankie Stein (Jayson Spence)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: October 27, 2002

Stars: Craig Guggenheim, Jayson Spence, Barry Peterman
Other Stars: Hiram Jacob Segarra, Andrew Hurley, Ted Travelstead, Mark Trares, Kate Fallon, Joan Gerardi
Director: Brian O'Hara

MPAA Rating: R for (nudity, explicit language and scenes of horror)
Run Time: 01h:27m:45s
Release Date: September 24, 2002
UPC: 612385524196
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C+C+B- B-

DVD Review

It is apparently not an easy task to put a fresh, new spin on a well-worn genre, so much so that some cynics might argue that it has all been done before, and that everything is ultimately just a rehash of something that has come before it. For example, just about all of the umpteen variations on the Frankenstein story seem to have one thing in common, which is the resurrection of something that was once alive, usually with horrendous results. It might seem that the chance of taking that particular subject in a relatively new direction might not really be an option, but that would be where you're dead wrong. You apparently haven't seen Rock & Roll Frankenstein.

Rock & Roll Frankenstein is the tacky, trashy 1999 debut from writer/director Brian O'Hara that seems to exist only to wallow happily in its own numbing brand of high-camp and gross-out excess. The finer points of subtle filmmaking is not something O'Hara seems to be concerned about, and when he features a man getting a giant crucifix rammed up his rear end or a human head squashed like a grape, he has pretty much set the bar low. Oh yeah, did I mention it's a comedy, too?

Foul-mouthed rock promoter Bernie Stein (Barry Feterman), a guy who could really give Dennis Hopper's Frank Booth a run for his money in the f-word department, is in dire need of a hot act. Luckily for him, his nephew Frankie Stein (Jayson Spence) dabbles in regenerating dead things, like severed cow heads; that is when he's not masturbating to autopsy photos. Uncle Bernie recruits the film's Igor character, dim-witted stoner Iggy (Hiram Jacob Segarra), to rob graves for bits and pieces of various famous dead rock stars (Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly, Sid Vicious) in order to have Frankie build the ultimate rock and roll entertainer. When Iggy is sent to retrieve Jim Morrison's penis, he inadvertently takes Liberace's, and that sets the stage for a litany of seemingly endless gay-themed jokes, especially when the member starts talking.

Graig Guggenheim's performance as the cobbled together Franken-rocker is a hoot, and he exudes a dopey, confused glee as a creature struggling with very strange urges to stick gerbils where they shouldn't go, to say nothing of his very unnatural sexual practices. Guggenheim, stuck with having to make what could have been yet another tired Elvis imitation, gives the character a great sense of laid back comic timing, even if the material is admittedly base.

This is a dark, twisted comedy, full of nasty sexual humor and occasionally even nastier situations. It seems a bit premature to call this a cult classic, but it certainly has all the makings of one. If you like 'em gross and off-color, you'd be hard-pressed to find something this whacked out.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The film has inexcusably been cropped from its original theatrical widescreen presentation into a slightly crowded-looking 1.33:1 fullframe transfer. The print is sporadically marred by a fair amount of grain, and also quite a bit of specking and other debris. Colors, on the other hand, look pretty good (you can really pick out The King's inconsistent "dead" makeup) for what is a decidedly low-budget feature, though the black levels during a couple of scenes are less than perfect. Compared to the looks-like-videotape quality of some of the Seduction Cinema releases, Rock & Roll Frankenstein seems almost like reference quality.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: This one comes with a 2.0 stereo mix, and though I did catch a little rear channel bleed during a couple of scenes, it is the front channels that do all the work, and fairly adequately at that. Dialogue is cleanly mixed, and for such an admittedly low-budget production, the sound is much better than I had anticipated. The King's couple of musical numbers lack any real bottom end though, but the general sound quality more than suits the juvenile material.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Brian O'Hara, Jay Hillman, Hiram Jacob Segarra, Graig Guggenheim, Stephen McLaughlin
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Music Video
Extras Review: Well, just based strictly on sheer volume, the extras for Rock & Roll Frankenstein are rather heavy duty. For starters, there are a total of 28 trailers for an array of Shock-O-Rama, Seduction, Retro Seduction and Seduction Spoofs (Rock & Roll Frankenstein, Psycho Sisters, Demoness, Cremains, The Night Divides the Day, Demon Lust, Santa Claws, Vamps, Possession of Nurse Sherri, My Vampire Lover, An Erotic Vampire in Paris, Erotic Survivor 2, Vampire Obsession, The Erotic Mirror, Roxanna, Pleasures of a Woman, Female Animal, Master's Plaything, Inga, Seduction of Inga, Play-Mate of the Apes, Witchbabe, Erotic Witch III, Mummy Raider, TITanic 2000, Gladiator Erectus, Sexy 6th Sense, Mistress Frankenstein). What this means is a heady, long-winded mix of skin, skin, skin and of course the ever radiant Misty Mundae.

As if the mere presence of an alluring number of Misty Mundae trailers were not enough, writer/director Brian O'Hara, D.P. Jay Hillman, associate producer Stephen McLaughlin and cast members Hiram Jacob Segarra and Graig Guggenheim have provided a full-length, scene-specific commentary track. This could have been better, because my main beef is that the audio level for the film isn't lowered enough, and the commentary audio isn't raised enough, with the end result being a track that is difficult to understand at times. As you might expect from a film as intentionally crass as Rock & Roll Frankenstein, O'Hara and crew deliver an equally coarse discourse on getting the film made on its remarkably modest budget. If the audio levels had been mixed a little better, this one might have been pretty entertaining, but as it is a lot of the comments are hard to discern, especially when two or three of the guys are talking at once.

Behind and Around Rock & Roll Frankenstein (22m:20s) is a loose collection of random behind-the-scenes footage, much of it with no formal narration. A so-called Music Video (01m:40s) is The King's movie version of I'm A Monster, and while it is funny, it is also very short.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

If you are easily offended by low-brow humor aimed at homosexuality, religion, drugs, animal cruelty or gore (or any combination thereof), then Rock & Roll Frankenstein is most definitely not for you. If, however, you have been known to chuckle at stuff your friends think is "gross" or "tasteless," then have I got a recommendation for you. Brian O'Hara does not hold back anything, and when one of the main characters is a talking penis, you pretty much know that he is aiming directly for the comedic crotch, and he hits it. Hard.

 


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