23 January 2010 | Bunuel1976
TERROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (Calvin Floyd, 1977) ***
I had always been intrigued by this Swedish-Irish production(!) - a follow-up to the same film-makers' lackluster IN SEARCH OF Dracula (1975) - for being the screen's most faithful rendering (even more so than the disappointing "official" 1994 adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola and Kenneth Branagh) of the oft-filmed Mary Shelley horror tale; while it is decidedly uninspired and choppy in treatment, its essentially literate and stately approach makes the most of the novel's classical plot and, as a result, it remains full of interest throughout. At first, I felt that Leon Vitali – who, after appearing in BARRY LYNDON (1975), became Stanley Kubrick's long-time assistant! – was too youthful in appearance to be convincing in the title role but one must remember that, after all, he was supposed to be a medical student. On the other hand, distinguished Swedish actor Per Oscarsson (whose face is effectively made up in a deathly pallor complete with darkened lips) brings out all of the creature's various qualities: an imposing build, his confusion and solitude and, eventually, a lust for vengeance towards his resentful maker. Though obviously a low-budget effort, the film still manages to approximate the narrative's epic sweep without, however, resorting to overstatement – a fault which lies at the heart of the later 'definitive' Hollywood version's artistic (and commercial) failure. For the record, even though I am familiar with many another film version of the famous story, there are still a few more which I need to see, namely the 1973 Dan Curtis TV-adaptation, the darkly-comic modern French take of Alain Jessua's FRANKENSTEIN '90 (1984) and the futuristic Roger Corman version, FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND (1990).