There have been many versions of the Frankenstein story over the years, both re-visualisations of Mary Shelley’s original novel and conceptual “spin-offs” — films that act as sequels, and even some that don’t appear to be about Frankenstein at all, yet re-work its basic concepts in different settings (such as the excellent Tom Baker-period Doctor Who episode, The Brain of Morbius and even, arguably, Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator). [See my “Frankenstein Variants” article here.] My personal favourites among the “spin-offs” are the series of Frankenstein films made by Hammer Films from 1957 on, starring Peter Cushing as the good doctor and (mainly) directed by Terence Fisher. These treat Frankenstein himself as the monster and follow his ongoing attempts to defy nature, rather than continually re-cycling the doctor’s first creation in sequel after sequel.
Though there were film versions of the “real” story going back as far as 1910, it is generally true to say that when people talk about the “original” film version of Frankenstein, they are usually referring to the one directed by James Whale in 1931, starring Boris Karloff as the iconic version of the monster.
Several “Frankenstein” films are currently in production, both big- and small-budgeted films, including a “blockbuster” remake of the sequel to the 1931 version, Bride of Frankenstein (1935).
Another exciting project that explores Mary Shelley’s seminal tale of scientific re-animation of the dead, overweaning ambition and monstrous madness is an independent film directed by Eric Swelstad and starring Randal Malone as the monster.
A “Descendent of Frankenstein” variant — in which a member of the original doctor’s latter-day gene-pool becomes obsessed with his/her ancestor’s experiments and proceeds to replicate them, right down to the inevitable blood and gore (a variant humorously treated in the 1975 Mel Brooks comedy Young Frankenstein) — Frankenstein Rising (due for release in 2010) plays on the gothic aspects of the story’s cinema tradition and (as you’ll see from the newly released trailer) takes the Re-Animator path in terms of its aesthetic qualities — lots of blood and guts and an outrageous horror exuberance.
Malone has an extensive acting profile in independent B-horror films, including those of Leroy.
Among his co-stars in this one are silent-film actress Anita Page (pictured below), whose career saw a revival in her 90s, before her death in 2008. She plays the original Elizabeth Frankenstein, a role played by Mae Clarke in the 1931 film version (see picture above). Check out Malone’s reminiscences of Mae Clarke here.
Another veteran to appear in Frankenstein Rising is Margaret O’Brien, who film career began in 1941 with an uncredited part in Babes on Broadway. Other cast members are Jerry Maren, Domiziano Arcangeli (as Victor Frankenstein), Gary Brandt (as Vincent Frankson, see pic below), and Elizabeth Bell.
In the image below, Randal Malone gets “created” by special makeup effects artist John Wrightson:
Earlier Teaser Trailer, with voice-over by Margaret O’Brien: