DVD Verdict
Home About News Blu-ray DVD Reviews Upcoming DVD Releases Contest Podcasts Forums Judges Contact  

Case Number 17601: Small Claims Court

Buy the DVD at SinemaSaliba.com

Frankenstein Unlimited

Sinema Saliba // 2009 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Daryl Loomis // October 30th, 2009

• View Judge Loomis's Dossier
• E-mail Judge Loomis
• Printer Friendly Review


Every purchase you make through these Amazon links supports DVD Verdict's reviewing efforts. Thank you!

• Buy the DVD at SinemaSaliba.com

 

All Rise...

Judge Daryl Loomis is creating a series of films based on themes from Mary Worth.

The Charge

An unholy collaboration.

The Case

In 2007, Montreal director Matthew Saliba brought together five other young local filmmakers to create an anthology of short films using themes from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The resulting compilation, Frankenstein Unlimited, is definitely a mixed bag, but each of the six films is an interesting, if sometimes obscure, take on the classic novel.

Dark Lotus (d. Matthew Saliba)
Following the death of his wife during childbirth, an aging doctor uses strange forces to grow a daughter from the ground. While his perverse project succeeds, the townspeople are reviled and hunt him down. The daughter, born fully grown and totally hot, takes revenge on those who murdered her father.

Victor (d. Matthew Forbes)
This quiet epilogue to the original novel features the doctor, having just witnessed the death of his creation, ostracized by everyone in town for his experiments. With the help of a bum and an otherworldly spirit who plays a harmonica, Victor comes to accept the pain he's caused.

Flesh for Kung-Fu (d. King-Wei Chu)
Two kung-fu masters go at it, atop a Hong Kong building. One is highly trained, practices religiously, and has a good soul. The other is a monstrosity who murders his challengers and takes their strongest parts to turn himself into a martial arts abomination. Who will win this epic battle?

Reflection (d. Maude Michaud)
A disfigured woman who works cabaret has finally saved enough money to get plastic surgery so her face can finally look normal. The dancers have taken her in and sheltered her from the disgusted stares of those she sees on the street. While she succeeds in fixing her face, however, she also learns that ugliness is not what makes a monster.

Occam's Razor (d. Peter James)
In separate interrogation rooms, two criminals confess independently to a series of brutal murders. In shifting their stories and confusing the investigators, they are actually giving the police the pieces they need to solve the puzzle. The answer is the principle of Occam's Razor, in which the simplest solution is most likely correct, but can the cops figure this out before it's too late?

Mr. Fluffenstein (d. Martin Gauthier):
A young girl's cat dies suddenly, but she won't accept that as final. Using her precociousness and some science textbooks, she brings her kitty back to life better than ever. Tragically, Fluffy has developed a taste for the neighbor cats and will kill them all unless the parents can find a way to stop him.

Saliba's only instruction to his collaborators was that the films had to connect in some way with the original novel. Otherwise, they had complete freedom. The result is six very different films whose variance makes for an enjoyable and unpredictable 90 minutes.

Stylistically, Dark Lotus is by far the most interesting. Shot without dialogue using stop motion photography, it's jarring at first, if only because I've never seen a film made quite like this. But the method makes a lot of sense. The beautiful black and white stills have a silent film appeal and the shifting speed of the frame make for an effective illusion of movement. Erotically charged and gorgeously shot, this is the kind of experimental short I can really get behind.

What Dark Lotus lacks in story structure, Occam's Razor makes up for in spades. This is my favorite of the six, with Saliba's short coming in a close second. Pulling from films like The Usual Suspects, Peter James has created one of the most compelling narratives I've ever seen. Stylistically restrained, the only flourishes come from the shifting of black and white into selective coloring. They are subtle shifts which add atmosphere, but are barely noticeable. The dialogue is very good and the performances an excellent fit. The resolution is convincing and surprisingly detailed, leaving very little to complain about.

The remaining four shorts are middling, each having their merits, but far removed from the other two. Flesh for Kung-Fu stars Gordon Liu (Iron Monkey) and, while it's surprising they were able to secure a performer of such stature to star in a four-minute film, this is little more than a single fight scene and a few title cards. The fight is pretty good, but there's little going on here. Reflection fares a little better, though it has only the vaguest connection to the original work. Stylishly shot with a cool burlesque milieu and a cast of oddball characters, it's certainly worth watching, but lacks a true coherent tone. Victor is a melancholy piece which suffers because it consists mostly of an old man walking around town getting dirty looks from people…and doesn't go anywhere from there. The compilation's finale, Mr. Fluffenstein is most different from its brethren. Like Frankenhooker, this is pure silliness, a fun and mindless way to end the collection.

For a self-published product, Frankenstein Unlimited is a surprisingly strong release. The films are all very low budget and shot on different cameras, so the image quality (while clean throughout) varies quite a bit. The indiviudal visual representations have more to do with stylistic choices, and don't reflect the work put into the disc. Sound is similar—clear, but unspectacular. As for extras, each film features a commentary from its respective director. All of them are solid, though in his discussion of Victor, Matthew Forbes sounds like he may be on something.

Frankenstein Unlimited is a quality compilation whose variations in tone and style keep the anthology moving along. Though two of the shorts surpass the rest, the film as a whole works very well. It's nice to see young filmmakers put out innovative, creative work, and this disc is a great showcase for them.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

Give us your feedback!

Did we give Frankenstein Unlimited a fair trial? yes / no

Share This Review


Follow DVD Verdict


Other Reviews You Might Enjoy

• States Of Control
• Wolfen
• Hellraiser: Hellworld
• Pursuit


DVD Reviews Quick Index

• DVD Releases
• Recent DVD Reviews
• Search for a DVD review...

Scales of Justice

Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: Sinema Saliba
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Drama
• Erotic
• Horror
• Independent
• Short Films

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentaries








DVD | Blu-ray | Upcoming DVD Releases | About | Staff | Jobs | Contact | Subscribe | Find us on Google+ | Privacy Policy

Review content copyright © 2009 Daryl Loomis; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.