By Steve Anderson | September 1, 2005

Literary fiction is flying hot and fast out at The Asylum, as we’re brought a second literary adaptation. Hot on the heels of David Latt’s “H.G. Wells War of the Worlds” (the trailer for which can be seen on this DVD), comes Leigh Scott’s “Frankenstein Reborn,” an updated version of the original work by Mary Shelley.

So what we have here is the story of Victor, (as in Frankenstein. Duh.) a neurosurgeon who has become obsessed with the reanimation of dead flesh (like in “Frankenstein”. Duh.). Victor murders his patient and resurrects the corpse.

A little different from “Frankenstein” this time around…the original Victor robbed graves for bits and pieces to sew together. THIS Victor just gathers them wholesale on the same body.

But much like the original, Something Goes Wrong with Victor’s new creation, and it goes on a rampage. The Creature, as it’s called, launches into a killing spree, discing up anyone it can get its clammy, undead hands on.

Under normal circumstances, I’m often the first to point out lousy special effects work, but “Frankenstein Reborn” does not suffer from that particular malady as much as is normal. For instance, about two and a half minutes in, there’s a very convincing dismemberment. I can’t find the wires, as it were…it’s a relatively seamless operation, done quite well.

The differences between Mary Shelley’s original “Frankenstein” and Leigh Scott’s “Frankenstein Reborn” are mostly cosmetic. Instead of lightning reanimating the corpses, we get cutting-edge nanotechnology doing the job. Of course, they also throw in the lightning as an homage to the original, but it’s a minor plot point at best.

Getting our first good look at the Creature, just short of the forty nine minute mark, is actually kind of disappointing. It looks oddly like the monster from Stuart Gordon’s “Castle Freak.”

But the decapitation at one hour and four minutes in is again, surprisingly realistic. The quality of the effects is considerably higher for “Frankenstein Reborn” than it is for many of its contemporaries.

In fact, that’s a perfect way to describe most of “Frankenstein Reborn.” it’s a cut above most of its contemporaries. Sure, the plotline is a bit derivative–it’s based on a hundred plus year old novel that spawned legions of movies. But the simple fact remains–the acting is solid, the script is solid, and the effects are DEFINITELY solid. When there are effects that I can’t easily deride as fake, I take notice. Too much of direct to video involves special effects slopped together to try and improve a sagging script. In this case, it’s a fair script augmented by good special effects.

The ending is packed with surprise twists that’ll really leave you satisfied. It’s an excellent ending overall, and the final thirty seconds will prove to hold one surprise you probably won’t see coming.

The special features include audio options, feature commentary, a blooper reel, deleted scenes, a behind the scenes featurette, and trailers for “H.G. Wells War of the Worlds”, “Hide and Creep”, “Legion of the Dead”, “Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove” and “Frankenstein Reborn.”

All in all, “Frankenstein Reborn” is literary adaptation at its very finest, and an excellent overall addition to The Asylum’s lineup.

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