[Review] BABY FRANKENSTEIN – a Monster Movie in Desperate Need of Grisel and Gore

Let’s start with the fact that Baby Frankenstein is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a horror movie. Yes, it has a ‘monster’ in it and there is a bad guy that you want to see murdered in the most grisly and gory way imaginable. But nobody dies in Baby Frankenstein; nobody even gets hurt beyond a badly thrown punch or two. There’s nothing scary or frightening about the movie, no tension, and no real suspense.

So what is Baby Frankenstein?

Well, it’s creepy as hell, but probably not in any intentional way.

Directed by Jon Yonkondy (Susquehanna), Baby Frankenstein tells the story of a young man, Lance (Ian Barling), and his creepily close to his age mom, Kim (Eileen Rosen) as they move into half of a suburban duplex. After meeting their creepy loner neighbor, John (Mike Rutkowski), Lance goes off exploring the house and discovers a locked door to an attic filled with a busty trunk filled with exposition in the form of old newspapers that explain where the creature he is about to discover came from. Then he finds the creature, a green-skinned little person (Rance Nix) with a clear acrylic dome covering his brain. Although frightened at first Lance, with the help of his potential girlfriend, Truth (Cora Savage), soon befriends  “Little Dude” and the three go off to have some fun. They go bowling. They go shopping, They go trick or treating and, in their quieter moments, Truth and Lance wax poetically in the park while Little Dude frolics around for their entertainment.

Bowling. Shopping. Frolicking. 

Where’s the blood? Where’s the gory scene of the creatures’ creator collecting body parts from dead bodies? Where is the scene of the creation of life? (Lance pushing an “on” button in the creature’s ear does not count as creation.)

Baby or not, where is the Frankenstein in Baby Frankenstein? Time has shown us that Mary Shelly’s story has been translated to the silver screen in a wide variety of interpretations, from Boris Karloff in the original Frankenstein movie to Andy Warhol’s infamous Flesh for Frankenstein, and most of them share at least the collection and creation scenes. Not Baby Frankenstein. The only thing Yonkondy’s movie shares with the creatures of the past is the Baron’s last name, and he should apologize to the Shelly estate for the blatant misappropriation.

There is a bad guy in Baby Frankenstein, a misogynistic slob named Ken Glinevich (Patrick McCartney), the obnoxious boyfriend of Lance’s mom. From the minute he enters the film to the second he gets his comeuppance at the end, it’s impossible not to passionately hate Glinevich. Every time he opens his mouth, or even just shows up in a scene, your brain fills with gruesome ways for Baby Frankenstein to put down the candy, stop jumping around like a drunken puppy and kill the guy. But it never happens. He doesn’t even get a beat down when the good guys finally get him in the end. He gets a slapdown that looks faker than the “brain” under Baby Frankenstein’s plastic dome. 

There’s also a hero to be found in Baby Frankenstein, other than the kids who befriend the creature and that’s the man who’s grandfather built Baby Frankenstein, Dauvin Lundquist, played by Andre Gower (The Monster Squad). At first, Lundquist seems the true villain of the piece, a shady corporate exec who offers a giant reward for his grandfather’s creation to be returned. By the end, though, he’s changed side and ends up saving the day, even though the script fails to explain why he has such a big change of heart. Gower plays both sides of his character, the bad guy and the good guy, with the same monotone delivery and lack of emotion so it’s just as difficult to get a sense from the actor of what’s changed for Lundquist, either.

As it tumbles towards its happy ending, it’s hard not to regret the time spent watching Baby Frankenstein. There are so many other Frankenstein films out there to see. Wikipedia lists more than 70 movies featuring Frankenstein’s monster, from The House of Frankenstein and The Horror of Frankenstein to Rock and Roll Frankenstein to even Frankenweenie. Wikipedia is not the most reliable source of information, but it’s telling that Baby Frankenstein didn’t even make it to their list. Alvin and The Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein made the list, but not Baby Frankenstein

Starring: Andre Gower, Ian Barling, Patrick McCartney, Rance Nix, Cora Savage, Eileen Rosen, Mike Rutkoski, Yannis Stergiopoulos

Directed by: Jon YonKondy

BABY FRANKENSTEIN RISES JUNE 30!

  • John Black, Baby Frankenstein
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John Black
John Black still remembers his first horror movie, sneaking in to a double-feature of Horror House with Frankie Avalon and a Boris Karloff film he can’t remember the name of but will always remember for giving him his first glimpse of cinematic nudity as one of the actresses moved from the bed to the door without putting on any underwear! (Fond family memory: That glimpse, when discovered by his parents, cased John’s mom to call the theater and yelling at the manager for letting her son see ‘such filth’.) Luckily, John was more impressed by the blood and horror than the bare haunches and quickly became a devotee of the genre.

John has been a professional movie reviewer since 1987, when his first review – of a Robert De Niro film called Angel Heart – appeared in the entertainment section of The Cape Codder newspaper. He’s been writing about film ever since, primarily now as the entertainment editor at Boston Event Guide. Hardly a day goes by when he doesn’t watch at least one movie, which is how he thinks life was meant to be.