“I’m just a curious traveler,” a man of small stature and full-on shakes tells the looming monster standing just feet away. This, believe it or not, is the introduction between our weary traveler and the beast of legend, Frankenstein’s Monster.
But the encounter doesn’t go precisely as planned. For all the physical chaos the monster is capable of creating, he swiftly finds himself intrigued by this timid little man in front of him, who informs the monster that the year is 1893, thus making Frankenstein’s creation 101 years old. It’s an informative conversation held between these two opposing figures.
What might be more of a surprise is the fact that Frankenstein’s Monster has compassion oozing from his flesh. He’s rugged and intimidating, but there’s compassion there. Despite being assembled by random anatomical pieces of eight separate men, most degenerates, as the monster relays, this particular creature almost seems more intrigued and interested in his visitor, as opposed to his visitor’s curiosity at this abomination.
The two essentially catch up, the traveler filling in blanks for the monster, who’s been in hiding for about a century. And it’s wild to see. Because we’ve all grown accustomed to Frankenstein films in which the doctor’s creation wreaks havoc (some intentional, some unintentional) on small, fearful communities, seeing him here, calm, sitting in a cave juggling conversation with a complete stranger in a way, displays an evolution in the character. He’s no bumbling monster; he’s a sad, lonely monster.
Eventually this traveling fellow asks if the creature would like to travel back to town with him, take in some of the modern amenities that hadn’t yet been created the last time the monster walked the streets. Before the monster’s mind has been entirely made up, the two make their introductions and we get a nice little bonus nod to Universal in the form of a true favorite character of mine.
The traveler is Renfield, once played by the brilliant and criminally undervalued Dwight Frye. The monster however chooses to remain nameless, just as he chooses to remain where he is as opposed to following along… and that’s when things get crazy, as we learn that Renfield has a secret to hide. A secret threatening enough to send Frankenstein’s Monster into a rage.
I love the look of this film. Chris Notarile gives us an interesting filming location, and we get a look of the monster that feels fairly faithful to the description given by Mary Shelley. Ciprian Cosma is fantastic as the awkward Renfield and Sid O’Connell is able to generate fear through physical acting exclusively while portraying Frankenstein’s Monster. The two gift us an awesome dynamic, and Chris R. Notarile can rest easy somewhere, because he’s given us yet another very compelling piece of film.
This is excellent stuff without a wealth of big explosions, cheesy one liners or a gang of A-list celebrities. This is just pure, raw film that works. Watch it!