A portrait handed down through the generations. A portrait of a doctor who is widely known across the globe. A doctor obsessed with giving life to his own creation. His name was Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his family tree has grown large. His legacy has spidered along the branches of this tree with certain family members continuing his vile experiments. Each believes they have perfected the techniques of the past. However, can the perfect solution be found to a question that was never intended to be asked?
Directed by Donald F. Glut, Tales of Frankenstein is a collection of four short horror tales. Done in the style of great anthologies such as Creepshow and V.H.S., Tales of Frankenstein connects each tale with a through line. All of the stories were interesting, because each was done in a unique style that represented the location and time period where the short takes place. The through line is the weakest element of Tales of Frankenstein, but I’ll get to that later. First we’ll visit each story and I’ll give my reaction to each.
First is My Creation, My Beloved which tells how Dr. Gregore Frankenstein (Buddy Daniels Friedman) attempts to bring back his former love, Irma. With Irma’s brain and the additional help of local morgue worker Herr Hussman (Tad Atkinson) and prostitute Helga (Lilian Lev), Gregore hopes to carry out this task. I felt like this was the weakest story of the four tales. It wasn’t as unique as the others and seemed to stick to a more traditional storytelling approach. It was well done technically, however, with good direction and great gore effects. Also I felt this had the strongest acting ensemble, with a very creepy performance by Tad Atkinson as Herr Hussman.
Second is Crawler from the Grave where Vincent (John Blyth Barrymore) becomes obsessed with his neighbors, Lenore Frankenstein (Tatiana DeKhtyar) and Helmut Frankenstein (Len Wein). Vincent’s obsession stems from his love of precious and rare gems. A recently deceased Helmut owned such a gem, which he wore on his finger. Vincent then proceeds with a grave robbing plot that may give him problems due to Helmut’s experiments. Experiments intended to give himself everlasting life. With a strong story, awesome special effects, and very creepy visuals this was my favorite of the anthology. No criticism for Crawler from the Grave as it was solid from start to finish.
Next up is Madhouse of Death. Private Detective Jack Anvil (Jamisin Matthews) takes shelter at an old house when his car breaks down right before an approaching storm. It’s there that he meets Dr. Mortality (Mel Novak) and his butler, Mogambo (T.J. Storm). Dr. Mortality has a plan for Jack, a plan that may involve Jack losing his mind. The most funny and absurd of the four shorts. It was a delight watching as the characters came out, each more odd and eccentric than the last. The serious noire style really worked and was a great juxtaposition to the craziness. The mixing of crazy characters and different genres won’t be for everyone, but was very effective nonetheless.
Lastly is Dr. Karnstein’s Creation in which Dr. Heinrich Karnstein (Jim Tavare) recruits local bar fly Carl (Justin Hoffmeister). Carl needs money and will do anything for Dr. Heinrich. Even if that involves creating a bloodthirsty unstoppable super soldier. Like the last three tales Dr. Karnstein’s Creation is a quality short in all departments. What makes this one stand out, however, is the ending. For all the creature lovers out there this short is for you. The abomination at the end is a sight to behold.
As mentioned earlier, my biggest criticism with this anthology is the lack of a more substantial through line. Essentially the Frankenstein family lineage and the handed down portrait are all we get. While this is in no way a deal breaker it was a bit of a letdown. Each short was really good though, with a great mixture of different genres and film styles. I love a good anthology and I believe this one stands right along with all the classics.
I give Tales of Frankenstein 5 out of 6 reels.