A group of mischievous and detention bound high-schoolers are handed two choices: either spend the day in a classroom after school or take an educational trip to a wax museum in Salem. Instead of spending the entire day in a classroom, a trip to a wax museum seemed to be the lesser of two evils. Little do the hooligans know that the museum’s curator Charles Frank is the relative of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein and Charles Frank, a pseudo name for Frankenstein, has continued the ghoulish work his elder kin started long ago. Trapped inside Frankenstein’s wax museum of horrors, the high-schoolers are pitted against Frankenstein’s flesh eating creations with no way out. What was suppose to be a fun and devious night of intercourse and dancing turns into a bloody-blood bath of unspeakable horror.
This isn’t my first rodeo with director Richard Griffin’s work. The last It’s Bloggin’ Evil Griffin review, “Sins of Dracula,” didn’t strike the right key notes and became only a shell of a honoring horror film. “Frankenstein’s Hungry Dead,” also known as Dr. Frankenstein’s Wax Museum of the Hungry Dead,” was made a year earlier than “Sins of Dracula” and reminds me more of a true Griffin film. At first, I was afraid “Frankenstein’s Hungry Dead” would dull the mood as rebellious youth have yet again landed themselves into a death trap and this scenario just seems to be regurgitated over and over again in horror cinema. Eventually, and to my surprise, Griffin digs and builds out of that redundant hole and still manages to display his ever long homage to horror and horror icons comically. The thing about Griffin is is that he relies on mashing many genres together. For example, “Frankenstein’s Hungry Dead” is a mesh of Frankenstein, the Romero zombie genre, and a little bit of naziploitation to give the film some flavor. Second and third act strengthen the film’s roots and the comedy really pops during these acts making the film comical and gross at the same time.
Another conventional Griffin film schtick is the long-winded dialogue. I tend to get breathless just listening to the dump truck loads of exposition that seamlessly spew out of the actors’ mouths. The dialogue to death ratio just doesn’t add up and this film does get a bit talkative with a script that doesn’t quite measure up to Shakespearian work. The dialogue tends to be juvenile and obvious in a sense that every scene is laid out by description. Unless you’re Michael Thurber playing Dr. Frankenstein, there lies no reason behind other characters to have more scripted lines than there are end credits.
Speaking of Michael Thurber, Thurber has cemented himself as part of Griffin’s entourage a long with others who are also casted in this film: Johnny Sederquist, Jesse Dufault, and Jamie Lyn Bagley. However, Thurber’s versatility seems quite amazing. My first experience with Thurber was as a hard nose cop hellbent on vengeance in “Murder University” and I think he’s the best part of Griffin’s films. Thurber’s portrayal of Charles Frank combines a “Young Frankenstein’s” Inspector Kemp with a long lost, and black sheep, cousin of Hammer Horror legend Peter Cushion. Johnny Sederquiest and Jesse Default are starting to grow on me more and more with their acting styles. Their outrageous over acting is childish but hypnotically effective in humor. Bagley has been the more serious actor of the bunch, staying away from the horribly cliched parts and sticking with simple, easy to miss characters such as her breakout role as nerd girl heroine Katherine.
Overall, “Frankenstein’s Hungry Dead” is less about Frankenstein’s creature and more about the creation of flesh eating zombies and reaping hell upon meddling teenagers. Certainly a different take on the mad scientist genre and the Frankenstein legacy, but Griffin does mix things up for not necessarily the worst and I’m sure Mary Shelley would agree, if not really mind at all. The MVD and Wild Eye DVD release distributes a fairly standard unrated package that doesn’t disappoint and would be a winner in anybody’s B-movie collection.