Movie Review: Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare
Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare is an epic experimental film disguised as a horror flick. It contains none of the familiar trappings of the horror genre: No false scares (e.g. no cats jumping out of garbage cans), the gore is practically nonexistent and the monster is indecipherable. This is a horror movie built upon a framework of solely mood and tone that may not provide any scares or gross-out moments, yet is highly effective at leaving a highly unsettling feeling under the skin.
The movie, directed by John R. Hand, evolves exactly like a nightmare. Not a vivid nightmare with a chainsaw wielding maniac running down a dark alley, but a disorienting nightmare where you’re not quite sure where you are or what exactly is going on. The plot — such that it is — involves a mad doctor (played by Hand himself) whose girlfriend has mysteriously died, so he builds a monster to kill other young women to furnish a new body for his dead lover. Well, that’s the official description of the movie anyway.
What actually occurs in the film is presented in a disjointed fashion where no consquence to any action is offered or explored. For example, the movie opens with the first nubile victim being disposed of with a pitchfork well in advance of the girlfriend dying. We never actually get to see this victim clearly, just through a psychedelic, distorted haze; we never see the murder weapon touch the body; nor do we find out what body parts have been “harvested.” Therefore you must question if there was even a murder. Is most of what we see in the film simply delusional fantasies of the main character rather than the physical actions depicted? Has anything in the film even actually occurred?
The film is shot, either entirely or partially, in extremely grainy Super 8 film and much of the movie is taken up with extended, surreal image/sound collages. Even when straightforward action is playing out on-screen, Hand makes sure to shoot it at the most disorienting angles possible, so there’s never a time when the the movie is walking on solid ground. Instead, it leaves the audience to roam about in a continual fog of distortion.
Which is why Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare succeeds as an actual horror film, rather than just an experimental playing about with film technique. It may not be in the vein of physical, realistic horror, like the Hammer Frankenstein films of the ’50s-’70s that the title evokes, but it’s still disturbing nonetheless. This is a horror not of the body or even of the mind per se, it’s a horror of the things behind the mind.
(P.S. Yes, I’m quite aware that the title has no apostrophe in “Frankensteins.” This is how John R. Hand has written the title in all the promotional material and in the movie’s opening credits, so I’m going with that. Although grammatically incorrect, I like the way the title looks anyway.)
Watch the Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare movie trailer: