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Frankenstein's Hungry Dead
Richard Griffin, probably New England's premier exploitation horror comedy director strikes again with his odd and oddly endearing Frankenstein's Hungry Dead. The film is far from perfect, and made with little time and less money, but manages to mostly work regardless.
Mr. Jefferson (Ryan Hanley) is tired of the antics of the high school kids he teaches, so he gives them an ultimatum: either join him for a tour of the local wax museum, or go to detention! Faced with this stark choice, the kids go to the museum, run by creepy German, Dr. Charles Frank (Michael Thurber). Ashley and Coulton (Shannon Hartman and Patrick Keeffe) decide they want to break back in to the museum later that night for some sexy time, and are followed by their classmates Katherine (Jamie Lyn Bagley), Zoey (Aurora Grabill), her friend Vermin (Jesse Dufault) and a few others. Of course, they don't realize that Dr. Frank is actually a descendent of the evil Dr. Frankenstein, and has been doing his own experiments for years.
It's not long before Dr. Frank realizes the kids are there, and begins sending out his minions to pick them off. Then the kids scramble to escape with their lives. Griffin's films tend to be sexy, madcap comedies, and this one's no exception. The humor is broad and works more than it doesn't. There are wise cracking severed heads, in clear reference to The Brain That Wouldn't Die, slam dancing, sex in coffins, zombies, Hitler's reanimated corpse, and much more. The performances are wobbly at times, but mostly pretty good. Hartman and Bagley are the standouts, and Dufault can always be relied upon to be crazy and unrestrained. Michael Thurber is also mastering the aloof horror movie villain thing. The effects are decent, especially considering the clearly very constrained budget. But in this kind of film, cheesy yet inventive effects and makeup are part of the fun. Frankenstein's Hungry Dead isn't what I'd call a great film, but it's fun, and the wax museum provides a very cool location. This one is Recommended.
The video is 1.78:1 widescreen, and looks pretty good. The colors are muted, the shadows are deep, the contrast is good. No significant problems can be seen.
Audio is Dolby digital 2 channel, and sounds okay. The dialogue is a bit flat at times, and sounds dubbed. Griffin mentions in the commentary that some of the film had to looped, so this makes sense. Other than that, no real problems or hiss can be heard. The dialogue is always audible, but no subtitles are included.
The only major extra feature is a commentary with director Richard Griffin and a number of the cast. They've all been working together for a while, and they have a good time, and it's enjoyable to listen to them. Griffin talks about how he came up with the idea for the film, the super short schedule, and having to dub a lot of the dialogue. (He also refers to the film as Frankenstein's Wax Museum of the Hungry Dead, so I'm guessing that this was the original title.) The actors also talk about their characters, preference for practical effects, and the discomfort of sex in a coffin. This is fun. There are also a number of trailers, and an Easter egg featuring an interview with Griffin on the Nerdgasm podcast.
Frankenstein's Hungry Dead is a very low budget horror film, and so probably won't appeal to fans of slickly produced fare. But it has its charms for devotees of the lower echelons of the genre. If you are interested in a few laughs and some cool gut ripping fun, this one's for you.