Written & Directed by: Damien Leone
Starring: Max Rhyser, Ashton Leigh, Boomer Tibbs
Frankenstein vs The Mummy is released in the UK on DVD April 13th 2015 from Image Entertainment
“The mummy of a cursed pharaoh and a reanimated corpse terrorize a medical university. Only an Egyptologist and a college professor, the deranged Dr. Frankenstein, may be able to stop the creatures before it’s too late.”
King Kong vs. Godzilla, Freddy vs. Jason, Alien vs. Predator; just a few of the countless ‘face-off’ movies that have hit screens through cinematic history. But as each of them promises an exciting clash of two beloved characters, almost without fail they are a disappointment to fans of both franchises, and to everyone else for that matter. Here, however we have arguably the two most iconic movie monsters of all time facing off, but the makers are not tied to franchises, allowing them to reinvent the monsters to fit the modern-day setting and to have their own set of rules – could this finally be the ultimate ‘face-off’ event we’ve been waiting for? No.
Running 110 minutes, a great deal of time is dedicated to building up the characters and themes of this story. The unfortunate and somewhat paradoxical reality however is that the themes aren’t developed beyond brief introductions and the characters are beyond two-dimensional, verging on non-existent, resulting in extended scenes of characters saying nothing of interest, supported by a script that is like wading through treacle and acting abilities that that vary from wooden to downright atrocious.
The single female character is terribly unfortunate in having all the “female horror character” tropes attributed to her alone: love interest for the male lead, damsel in distress for BOTH monsters, rape victim, and she seems to get slapped to the floor in every second scene.
It seems unfair to pick so harshly at this lack of development, because no one watches a B-Movie like this for characterisation and deep discussion. The trouble is that despite the marketing suggesting so, it doesn’t think it is a B-Movie. Aside from a couple of decent gory scenes and one unexpected visual gag involving the Mummy and a severed facial feature, it’s all so serious, so slow and brooding but with nothing of substance to brood about that it’s as dry and lifeless as a real life Mummy in a museum. Don’t even get the idea that it could be “so-bad-it’s-good”. It’s just bad.
On to what positives I can extract from this test of endurance, the effects are very good – Frankenstein and the Mummy, along with all the gore, are achieved through very effective practical effects. The new designs of the monsters are genuinely creepy and avoid the more corny elements that are easy to fall foul of. An interesting twist is made to the character of Frankenstein at one point, but otherwise the two are reserved for brief scenes of gore and given very little to do in the movie.
Now perhaps the most important thing of all is the stand-off. Certainly the name, the cover art & the tagline “The Epic Battle Has Begun” would suggest so. So, for anyone who wants to avoid the turgid surroundings I’ll let you in on a secret: the two monsters first meet at 1 hour & 38 minutes into the movie. The fight is over 3 minutes later. And it’s not a very good fight at all. So the whole raison d’être of this movie feels like an afterthought, like the makers have just ticked a necessary box. Some great effects and a couple of decent kills are all that redeem this film, but they don’t come close to making it feel worthwhile.