With the introduction of special effects, the phenomenon of cult classic films like Frankenstein has all but died. The plethora of bigger budget, supernatural movies released in the first quarter of every year, makes it hard to distinguish one bad film from another. However, January 2014 saw the release of a supernatural thriller, I, Frankenstein, which has many of the makings of what a cult classic film meant in bygone days.
J.R. Jones, a writer for The Chicago Reader, says cult films are not “the worst of the worst,” describing those particular movies as being forgettable. Cult films are rather bad, but in the most spectacular manner. By spectacular, Jones likely meant a film with a premise that is absolutely absurd on an epic scale, mixed with a cheesy script, but fun all together. In today’s CGI driven films, spectacular can also possibly be stretched to an overabundance of special effects. I, Frankenstein, with its crazy premise, script full of cliché dialogue, and the fact it is based on a classic book that has spawned numerous cult films, could not be described any more accurate than spectacular.
Mary Shelley’s 1918 classic has inspired dozens and dozens of films and other mediums based around the monster and his creator over the past 96 years, including cult classics The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 or Frankenstein Created Woman 10 years later, which will be released on Jan. 28 on blu-ray. I, Frankenstein, reminiscent of cult classic films in days bygone, stars Aaron Eckhart as the monster and is an adaptation of a graphic novel of the same name by Kevin Grevioux, aka a poor man’s version of the late Michael Clarke Duncan, who has a brief role in the film also.
I, Frankenstein, takes place after the monster kills his creator and his creator’s wife. While burying Frankenstein, he is ambushed by a group of demons and he is thrust into a secret, age-long war between good and evil – gargoyles and demons – with the fate of mankind in his hands. The film features some cool battle sequences – when the demons die they erupt into a ring of fire plummeting below into hell; and when a gargoyle dies they disintegrate into a beam of light that ascends to heaven. During battle sequences, the screen is fulled with fire and light and an overabundance of CGI; it really needs to be seen to experience it all.
I, Frankenstein is part of a trend of bleak supernatural thrillers and critical bombs over the years. From 2011’s Priest which sees the titular character abandoning church laws to slay vampires, to Underworld, a film about a vampire caught in the middle of a war between her kind and werewolves. These films have at least a cool premise, but I, Frankenstein – a monster caught in a war between gargoyles and demons? Imagining this film being made between the 1950s to 1970s is a humorous, yet wonderful thought. It would be as epic as the cult film of all cult films, Plan 9 from Outer Space, which saw aliens resurrecting corpses as zombies and vampires to stop mankind’s creation of a bomb powered by the sun.
In today’s age, I, Frankenstein will get lost in the conversation of all the other B movie supernatural thrillers that preceded it. In a few years, the movie will be forgotten, but in days bygone, this would definitely had been a cult classic. It is bleak, slightly campy, offbeat, and just a flat-out fun time in the theater.
By Kollin Lore