Writer: Brian O’Hara
Producer: Sean O’Hara
Cast: Jayson Spence, Graig Guggenheim, Barry Feterman, Hiram J Segarra
Year of release: 1999
Reviewed from: VHS screener
There have been some damn strange takes on Mary Shelley’s tale over the years, variants that would make even her liberal eyes pop out of their sockets, which just goes to show how universal and adaptable the Frankenstein story is. But few have been as far from the original - or as entertaining - as Brian O’Hara’s Rock’n’Roll Frankenstein.
Cigar-toting music mogul Bernie Stein (Feterman) falls out once again with his latest signing and decides that what he really needs is a pop star that he can control completely. He needs to build one for himself. Fortunately, he has his nephew Frankie (Spence) on hand, replete with well-equipped Mad Scientist Lab, necrophiliac tendencies and stoned, oddball assistant named (great touch!) Iggy (Segarra).
Iggy and accomplices are sent out to raid the cemeteries of the world for parts of deceased rock giants which Frankie can then patch together into what will surely be the ultimate rocker. They get Jimi Hendrix’s hands, Buddy Holly’s feet, Elvis’ head - finally all that’s missing is, well, a schlong. Who else’s could they use but Jim Morrison’s legendary trouser snake, apparently preserved in a jar in a bizarre collection of such things? But, in the grand tradition of useless assistants, Iggy drops the jar and grabs another one instead, belonging to someone called Ace. Unfortunately, that’s ‘Liber’ Ace!
Of course, Uncle Bernie is only interested in making money from The King, while Frankie is distracted by his, um, tendencies - and Iggy is still zonked out of his skull. This would be a touching, sad story of loneliness and confusion - if it wasn’t so funny. In an era when even mainstream films are attempting to gross-out their audiences, many film-makers have forgotten that grossness alone isn’t enough. Grossness has to be presented with intelligence, even wit, to actually be funny, and that’s where Rock’n’Roll Frankenstein scores.
Rock’n’Roll Frankenstein was released as a Collector’s Edition DVD from EI Independent Cinema, including a ‘making of’ featurette and commentary from O’Hara and friends.
MJS rating: A
Review originally posted 7th December 2004.