Pulpmovies Cult Film Reviews
So what do you do when your genetically engineered gill man escapes into the sea?
Well, if you’re a mad scientist such as Dr. Monroe Lazaroff (Larry Butler), you assume that it’ll die soon anyway and go back to the drawing board. In this case, Lazaroff’s drawing board involves taking his two assistants - Dr. Ula Foranti (Alison Lees-Taylor) and the badly scarred Salisbury (Rich Knight, who also designed the makup and monsters for the film) – to Central Europe to dig up the original Frankenstein monster.
So off they head, to the country of Shellvania (Mary Shelly also gets an ‘inspired by’ credit in the titles, which is a nice touch) which, according to the on-screen map, is east of Transylvania. The trio quickly locate the monster’s unmarked tomb and – after some werewolf related shenanigans – ship the monster back to their secret lab in California.
And now we meet out hero, Bill (William Winckler), a photographer for a struggling glamour magazine who has just been given the responsibility for the magazine’s swimsuit edition. This photoshoot will, of course, be taking place at the exotic, if unfortunately named, location of Blood Cove.
So off he goes, along with the Dezzirae (Dezzi Rae Ascalon) the hair stylist, Percy (Gary Canavello) the camp make-up man and Gabrielle (Tera Cooley) the model, to the beach.
Remember the gill man that escaped into the sea, which Lazaroff assumed would just drop dead?
The four flee but, after an argument with magazine proprietor, Harry Granville (George Lindsey Jr), Bill, Dezzirae and Percy are sent back. Gabrielle has more sense, so this time the model is Beula (Carla Harvey).
And inevitably, our aquatic friend returns again.
This time around, the model doesn’t make it, but the other three manage to escape to a previously unnoticed beach house…
Not surprisingly, this happens to be the beach house that hides Dr. Lazaroff’s laboratory…
Where he has just managed to revive, and chemically brainwash, Frankenstein’s monster…
[Cue ominous music]
Although it is set in the present day, William Winckler’s Frankenstein vs the Creature from Blood Cove deliberately and very effectively evokes the monster movies of the 30s, 40s and 50s.
Both the black and white cinematography and the superbly dramatic score deserve a mention for their essential contribution to the atmosphere of the film which really does look and feel like it could have been made at the same time as the monster movies it pays homage to.
The acting and dialogue also recreate the era very effectively with all of the portentious language and insane plans that you come to expect in films such as this. Special mention at this point should go to Larry Butler who, as Dr. Lazaroff, becomes increasingly deranged as the film progresses.
The couple of scenes involving magazine proprietor, Harry Granville are also worth a mention for their sheer entertainment value.
But the reason that we watch films like this is for the monsters. And here, the make-up, effects and men in suits (Lawrence Furbish as Frankenstein’s monster and Corey Marshall as the gill man) all work brilliantly.
The gill man is superb – especially the head which, when we do get a close-up in all its salivating glory, turns out to be one of those rarities that actually looks better the more you see of it.
And Frankenstein’s monster is even better – a decomposing, stitched together monstrosity that looks fantastic as it lumbers into battle.
William Winckler’s Frankenstein vs the Creature from Blood Cove pays homage to the monster movies of the past in a way that is fun but without being mocking. That the film has been made with respect, enthusiasm and talent comes across in every frame and is a lot of fun.
This is a film that brings something a bit different to a genre that is too often swamped by gore and knowing wings and, as such, is a film that will be enjoyed not only the monster movie fans at which is aimed, but also a wider horror audience looking for more than retreads.
Billy Heinlickburger (Alec Sedgley) is a teenager with problems.
He had a job, but left it because he hated it. He dreams of being an artist, a writer, a musician, but lacks the motivation to try and turn any of his ambitions into reality.
So he does what every unemployed teenager does. He sits at home, dreaming his dreams while the world goes past.
And what a home it is.
Not surprisingly, he is still living with his parents – who are both German and bonkers. More accurately, Billy’s father, Jurgen (Graham Pollard) is a bizarre collection of eccentricities that – over the years – has driven his wife, Gertrude (Sue Kimberley) to become a paranoid wreck.
One thing they do agree on, however, is that they want Billy to get a job and get out of their house.
So he drifts…
And then, as chance would have it, Billy bumps into an ex-girlfriend, Susan (Morgan Lees) who he’s never really gotten over. Susan, older and wiser, and sees Billy as a prat. A likeable prat, but a prat nonetheless.
But this doesn’t stop Billy from wanting to rekindle their old relationship…
Although Billy’s parents veer towards parody, much of the humour in The Boy With a Thorn in his Side is very character based, depending for both its comedy and its drama on the evolving relationship between Billy and Susan.
For a comedy such as this to work, it needs some very able actors in the main roles to create characters that remain both recognisable and believable. And its nice to be able to say that both Alec Sedgley and Morgan Lees do an excellent job. Throughout the film, Billy remains both funny and sympathetic. He’s directionless and self-absorbed, but no more so than most teenagers and, as such, able to resonate with all of us who remember being that age.
As I remarked earlier, his parents are a parody. But they are a parody of the embarrassment that every teenager feels for his family before he starts building a life for himself, so they fit right in to the comedy/drama tone of the film.
The film falls back on the use of a pseudo-documentary style to introduce the characters which, along with the tone of the film, initially reminded me of The Office. But as the film progressed, the more downbeat tone of the comedy put me increasingly in mind of Early Doors.
Nothing is rushed in this film. Writer/director Mark Jeavons takes the time to fully involve the audience with Billy and Susan’s steadily unfolding story so that we get to know the characters, understand them, sympathise and start to genuinely care about what Billy is going to do with his life. And, from this, the humour emerges naturally.
The Boy With a Thorn in His Side is a very well observed comedy that is, by turns, both funny and sad. Its also a film with an underlying warmth that makes its ending a genuinely touching one.
And I am fully in agreement with Billy on the subject of mobile phones.