leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh
The shadow of 1970s horror films hangs benevolently over John Hand's A-for-effort/D-for-execution super-8 rehash of the Frankenstein story, shot with virtually no direct sound and featuring more scenes of aimless driving and walking around than the legendary BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS (1961). The plot, to the degree it can be teased out from the trippy visuals, spacy synthesizer music and hard-to-hear dialogue, revolves around young Dr. Victor Karlstein's (Hand) efforts to rebuild his dead girlfriend, Victoria (Amy Olivastro), with the help of body parts acquired by a lumpy faced creature (Karl Borst). Victor is the third generation of the Karlstein family to preside over a mysterious research institute and bears the burden of carrying on the family's work at a time when board members and trustees wield increasing power (Hand's youth is a real stumbling block; he barely looks old enough to be a medical resident, let alone the head of a midsized medical facility even if he is just "a figurehead" by virtue of family connections). The murders committed by Victor's creature have attracted the attention of local police, and Victoria's sister, Tara (also Olivastro), is making inquiries as well; the combined pressures send young Victor into a hallucinatory downward spiral. A graduate of Florida's hands-on Full Sail Real World Education program, Hand shot his film in Pensacola and Milton, Florida, and misses no opportunity to pay homage to '70s genre filmmakers. The title is a riff on Paul Naschy's FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR (1968); Jess Franco used the name "Karlstein" in two of his sexploitation-horror efforts; one character is named after bottom-of-the-barrel exploitation filmmaker Andy Milligan and the costumes are credited to Milligan's own pseudonym, "Raffine"; and the dream sequence in which Karlstein has squishy, intimate knowledge of his ambiguously-sexed creature is pure David Cronenberg in his "long live the new flesh" period. Kudos to Hand for acknowledging his influences, but his own film is tedious and obscure where it was apparently meant to be atmospheric and tantalizing.