Houston Chronicle: “Nobody’s ever done a Frankenstein like this one and nobody’s ever done a better one.”

Wall Street Journal: “None of the previous Frankenstein films was as frightening as this.”

Rick Kogan in the Chicago Tribune, 11 June 1993

Monstrous Dignity
Tnt's Adaptation Of `Frankenstein' Is One Of The Best

… the latest version of "Frankenstein" is … certainly one of the best screen translations of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel …

The story is told in flashback from the point at which Frankenstein has tracked his creation across 1,000 miles of frozen wilderness and is taken aboard an ice-locked boat.

The incredulous sea captain listens as the doctor spins his tale of the monster's escape from the laboratory and how, after the two became separated, each has an idyllic summer, Frankenstein in the sumptuous country house of his betrothed, the monster at the cottage of a kindly old blind man (John Mills) who teaches him the joys of nature and wood-chopping, as well as a few words.

Danger intrudes, forcing the creature deeper into the forest and eventually back into Frankenstein's world …

Directed, written and produced by David Wickes, who sharpened his sense for horror by directing ABC's "Jekyll & Hyde" and CBS' "Jack the Ripper," this "Frankenstein" holds fairly firmly to Shelley's original, thus giving us much who-gets-to-play-God? meat upon which to chew ...

Full review

Cavett Binion, All Movie Guide

Filmed in Eastern Europe, this direct-to-cable adaptation of Mary Shelley's iconographic monster tale features Patrick Bergin as Victor Frankenstein, a medical genius obsessed with the secret of creating life, who uses a bizarre cloning apparatus to grow a complete human being (Randy Quaid) from his own cellular material …

… production values are admirably high and performances are superb throughout …

Full review

dtucker86

There have been so many versions of this story made that it would almost seem superflous to make another, yet this is the best version that I have seen because it is the most faithful to Mary Shelly's book. I saw the classic 1931 version where Karloff was the monster and he would have been proud of Quaid's performance …

He does a remarkable job of making the monster both scary and pitiful as society treats him so badly.

This is a great film and with the exception of Karloff's version, it is the best Frankenstein that I have ever seen.

elsbed-1

I really enjoyed this movie, far, far more than the over the top Kenneth Branagh version. Randy Quaid is fabulous as the monster. I particularly loved the monster in this film, as he was very sweet and childlike until he had negative experiences with humans. His expressions were very poignant and heartfelt. Also, the concept of Frankenstein feeling his monster's pain was original and interesting. Definitely impressive for a made-for-tv movie!

Jonathon Dabell

Forgotten version of the Mary Shelley novel - it doesn't deserve to have fallen into obscurity (but it has).

Director David Wickes was responsible for the horrible David Essex vanity project Silver Dream Racer. With this in mind, you could be forgiven for expecting this 1992 made-for-TV update of the oft-filmed Frankenstein story to be a somewhat trite affair. Surprisingly, this is a pretty good version of the tale. Indeed, it is actually better than the high profile Kenneth Branagh version that was released around 18 months later …

Wickes is extremely faithful to his source novel, more so than virtually all film-makers who have gone before him. He cuts out occasional bits of Mary Shelley's narrative, and makes the odd change here and there, but on the whole this is as close to Shelley's story as a film version has ever been.

Bergin is a revelation as Dr. Frankenstein. Usually a solid but unspectacular character actor, here he gives one of his best-ever performances as the ambitious scientist. On paper, Quaid sounds a terrible choice for the part of the monster … but in actual fact he is superb as the monster, registering anguish and pity from beneath layers of heavy make-up. At two hours, the film is paced well and moves briskly without sacrificing character or plot development …

It seems surprising that this film has faded into obscurity, for it is very well-made and admirably faithful to its source book. If you are fortunate enough to find, it is well worth viewing.

More IMDB reviews
Ice (3) Ice (18)

A party of seamen from a ship trapped in the Arctic ice witnesses a furious chase – two men on sleds drawn by
teams of huskies, the one in pursuit of the other. They wonder how the men got here, because the nearest
town, Arkangel, is 1000 miles away.

Ice (5) Ice (8)

Apparently both man are intent on killing each other. The one being pursued loses control of his sled, and the
Captain (Roger Bizley) orders his crew to fire on the pursuer.

Ice (10) Ice (11)

The Bosun (Michael Gothard) and the others scare him off, then go to see whether his intended victim is still alive.
Read more... )
Ice breaks (43) Ice breaks (45)

The Bosun’s last words to his crew - and Michael Gothard's last words on film - are, “Come on, Lads! Look
lively! We’re going home!”
Described in the Chicago Tribune as "A classic the whole family can watch: big entertainment, big production values, a lot of interesting moral story lines to deal with,” this version of ‘Frankenstein’ was based more closely on the original version of Mary Shelley’s classic horror story than previous efforts, and was said to have had a budget of about $4.5 million – high for a typical network movie at time.

Michael Gothard was cast as the Bosun of a ship trapped in Arctic ice. He and the rest of the crew are out walking on the ice, presumably hunting for food, when they see two combatants on sleds, chasing each other across the frozen waste.

Dr Victor Frankenstein is thrown from his sled and taken on board, where he tells the tale of how he created the monster which now pursues him, to the ship’s Captain.

Michael’s character, the Bosun, is the Captain’s right hand man, on whom the Captain relies for information, and to keep his motley crew in line.

Astonishingly, the scenes of ice and snow in which Michael features were filmed at Pinewood Studios.

Near the end of the Pinewood shoot, Patrick Bergin, who played Dr Frankenstein, sustained a broken arm when falling from a sled, and filming of his last scenes was delayed.

Director, David Wickes, had made use of Michael Gothard’s talents before, on 'Jack the Ripper.’

In correspondence, David Wickes says:

"Frankenstein was largely shot in Poland. It was the first mainstream movie to be shot there after the Iron Curtain came down . . . a wild place in those days. Ted Turner must have thought I was bonkers.

Anyway, before I cast each actor, I warned them about the problems — bad roads, worse food, you name it. (Ask Stephen Spielberg who followed us in with Schindler’s List !)

Most of the actors and crew just gulped and blinked — but Michael was different. He listened to all my warnings, then he smiled his famous smile and said 'Great ! Can’t wait !'

... Michael had a screen presence unlike that of any other actor with whom I have worked. He could frighten an audience with a glance. His soft, husky voice was electrifying and he knew how to use it to maximum effect.

Each time I welcomed Michael to the set, I knew that we were about to get something special in the can. There are very few actors in that category."

The stunt arranger on ‘Frankenstein’, Peter Brayham, would also have been well known to Michael, from ‘Arthur of the Britons’, ‘Stopover’, and 'Jack the Ripper.’

‘Frankenstein’ received good reviews, but was not released in the UK until 29 December 1992 – nearly a month after Michael’s death.
When released in the US in June 1993, it gained the highest ever audience ratings for TNT in the USA (72% cable audience share) and received 3 ACE nominations and 1 ACE Award.

More details on ‘Frankenstein’ from David Wickes Productions

Frankenstein is now available on DVD from WB Shop

IMDB entry
This report by Jeff Kaye was printed in the Chicago Tribune on 15 Jan 1993, after the film’s UK premier on 29 January 1992, but before its US premiere, which wasn’t until June 1993. Michael Gothard appeared as the Bosun in this film, and his scenes were filmed at Pinewood, as described in the report.

Tnt Goes Back To The Source For `Frankenstein'

Harsh winds are stirring up such a thick cloud of snow across this patch of frozen tundra that it's difficult to see the team of huskies pulling the oversized sled in the distance.

The dogs yelp with enthusiasm as they race past a snowdrift and circle back toward their starting point.

It's a mighty surprising scene for the unprepared observer.

The surprise has nothing to do with the fact that this is all taking place just outside London on a warmish autumn day. This is, after all, Pinewood Studios, one of the most famous movie lots in the world. Here, creating a realistic arctic setting, should be a snap. Next to the tundra is a hulking soundstage marked "007" where some of James Bond's most amazing feats have been filmed.

What's remarkable about this icy milieu is that it has been painstakingly constructed, in the name of strict authenticity, to film the opening sequence of a new movie about Frankenstein.

Frankenstein on a dog sled in the Arctic Circle? It's a weird idea that probably would have been deemed utterly preposterous and tossed in the trash if not for the person who thought of it. That person was Mary Shelley, whose 1818 novel "Frankenstein" begins with a disfigured creature and its creator locked in a deadly chase across the great white North.

Boris Karloff and the legion of square-headed descendants who have played Frankenstein's monster in countless films may have provided hours of thrilling entertainment with their versions of the creature. But what really wound up hideously disfigured in those movies was Shelley's novel.

Now comes Turner Network Television to set things right.

The cable channel is producing what it claims to be the most true-to-the-original-story version of Frankenstein ever filmed, with Randy Quaid as the monster (no, his name is not Frankenstein) and Patrick Bergin as his creator (his name is Frankenstein)

...

The notion of filming the original Frankenstein story began with writer-director-producer David Wickes … "I read the story like everyone else when I was at school," says the British filmmaker, as he sits near a pack of baying huskies on the arctic set. "I was fascinated by it and loved it, and it remained an image forever." He saw all the Frankenstein movies and always believed that they "didn't live up to what I had read."


Wickes finally decided to pursue his idea for the film after a dinner party at which the table talk centered on genetic engineering and the possibility of choosing not only a baby's sex but also its level of intelligence.

"I said, `Well, it's like the Frankenstein story,' and someone at the table said, `You mean the monster with the bolts through the neck?' And I thought, hey, now's the time" to shoot the original version.

An obvious question arises. If the original story is so good, why hadn't anyone filmed it?

"When I started to transpose the novel to movie script, I realized how difficult it was," he says. "A novel is a very different thing from a movie. There are long, introspective thoughts, exhaustively discussed, dismembered and examined under microscopic intensity. You cannot do that in a picture. A picture has to have events and images, dialogue and relationships."

TNT executives not only believed the transformation was possible, but found the idea irresistible …

Full article

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