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Wellspring presents
Terror of Frankenstein (aka Victor Frankenstein) (1976)

"Let me tell you about myself. It's a frightening story, but it may save you from making some of the terrible mistakes that I have made."
- Victor Frankenstein (Leon Vitali)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: October 27, 2003

Stars: Leon Vitali, Per Oscarsson
Other Stars: Nicholas Clay, Stacey Dorning, Jan Ohlsson, Olof Bergström, Mathias Henrikson
Director: Calvin Floyd

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence)
Run Time: 01h:30m:07s
Release Date: September 09, 2003
UPC: 720917538327
Genre: horror


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

DVD Review

Calvin Floyd's 1976 release, Terror of Frankenstein (or Victor Frankenstein, as it was originally titled), steers clear of the traditional cinematic version of a man-made man, avoiding the usual flat top skull, green skin, and lumbering gait that have become a familiar visage ever since Boris Karloff lumbered through the misty darkness. This tale sticks closer thematically to Mary Shelley's original work (or "Mary Shelly" as she's incorrectly listed in the opening credits), and while this isn't the most completely riveting rendition, it is a strong, seldom seen entry in a genre that often seems to have forgotten its literary roots. Kudos to Floyd for keeping it real, as they say.

Leon Vitali is Victor Frankenstein, a dreamy young academic searching for what he calls "the elixir of life," where his studies and experiments eventually include operating on live monkeys. Contrary to what horror films have taught us, Vitali's Frankenstein doesn't live in a gloomy, brooding castle, but instead does his work in a cramped attic laboratory where there are no elaborate Rube Goldberg mechanical devices or hunchbacked assistants to be found. The story, in fact, of his horrific experiments are told in flashbacks, after Victor Frankenstein is rescued in the North Pole during the film's opening moments, by the captain of a frigate that is stuck in the ice.

The back story of Dr. Frankenstein here is a tad slow-moving, and seems to exist in a world of frilly-coated fancy lads, and little in the way of actual narrative. His questionable romance with the young Elizabeth (Stacy Dorning), and his friendship with Henry (Nicholas Clay) only get in the way of what we really want to see, which is monster-making. Vitali's Frankenstein is driven and well-meaning, but his downfall comes when it is suggested that he take his experiments to the next level, which leads to a series of under the table dealings in a wonderfully Gothic subterranean morgue.

We've seen this general type of mad scientist story before, yet Floyd takes his sweet time getting to the meat of the matter, namely the creation of The Monster, here played by towering Swede Per Oscarsson. Not so much a cobbled-together creature as a reanimated corpse, Oscarsson's monster is bedecked with red-rimmed eyes and Goth black lips, and while he is not a monster in the traditional sense, he is certainly just as evil. He speaks well, he kills often, he even wants a mate, and Floyd stays true by delivering a blind hermit sequence that of course erupts into inevitable violence.

Oddly enough for a mid-1970s horror film, Floyd avoids loading Terror of Frankenstein with excessive gore and gratuitous nudity, and instead has chosen to almost forsake traditional horror elements, with the exception of the score. Gerrard Victory supplies a swirling, old school Teutonic-tinged soundtrack that swells with the kind of kinetic passion that is usually lacking in a B-grade horror outing, and it shows how effectively a powerful composition can generate emotion even when the onscreen story gets temporarily mired in melodrama.

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

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Presented in a 1.33:1 transfer, it appears that the source print has seen better days, and no major restoration was done for this release. Color levels fluctuate wildly, often within the same scene, and some of the outdoor sequences look very washed out. To make matters worse, small nicks and rips are frequent.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: A decent English mono track is provided, and all dialogue is clear and understandable. Gerrard Victory's wonderful score sounds fine, even with the limited dynamic range. No major hiss or crackle is evident.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Terror is a Man, In Search of Dracula, The Fighting Rats of Tobruk, Mission to Death, The Raiders of Leyte Gulf
Production Notes
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: As with In Search of Dracula, Calvin Floyd's vampire documentary, this release of Terror of Frankenstein contains a smart, three-page booklet written by Jim Arena that provides a solid background on the film's production and its background.

Other than that, all that's here is a mediocre set of trailers (Terror of Frankenstein, Terror is a Man, In Search of Dracula, The Fighting Rats of Tobruk, Mission to Death, The Raiders of Leyte Gulf).

The disc is cut into 12 chapters, and does not feature any subtitles.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

Less gory and less monstrous than the usual Frankenstein picture, this 1976 release opts to stay closer to much of Mary Shelley's original novel. The story meanders a bit, but Vitali and Oscarsson play well off each other.

Frankenstein fans should, at the very least, find this one worth a viewing.

 


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