Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Branagh Bloodies Hands with Horror Most Foul

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Branagh Bloodies Hands with Horror Most Foul

Article excerpt

"MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN" Rating: R. Running time: 2:03.

CALL me perverted, but I find it hard to suppress a giggle of horror when I see a lovestruck young man waltzing around his attic, whispering words of endearment to a recently deceased woman who appears to have suffered through the most seriously botched face-lift in history. We're talking a $20 million judgment here, minimum.

I don't think Kenneth Branagh intended his version of this 176-year-old tale of hubris and horror to be a gory black comedy, but it keeps lurching like an upset stomach in that direction.

"Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" might end up as the '90s "Rocky Horror Picture Show," a midnight cult movie at which people in the audience dress in period costumes covered with ketchup and shout out lines like "I Want a Companion!"

You could choose to take this wildly uneven movie as an updated version of Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein." But if you take it seriously - and we are dealing here with a director who made his name bringing Shakespeare brilliantly to the screen - there are major problems. Among them is the fact that the movie is bloody but not particularly scary, because the characters are so unbelievable.

But the main fault, I think, is that Branagh is trying to mix two essentially unreconcilable forms: the deeply Romantic fiction of the early 19th century, where imagination was worshiped, and the super-realistic techniques of modern horror flicks.

In the first - and still best - movie of "Frankenstein," James Whale's 1931 classic starring Boris Karloff, we see that the monster is stitched together, but we don't have to watch in close-up as he picks the stitches out of his healing but still bloody wounds. …

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