Friday, April 15, 2022

Dr. Frankenstein on Campus


Dr. Frankenstein on Campus (aka Flick)
Gilbert W. Taylor

Dr. Frankenstein on Campus isn’t a very good Frankenstein movie or even a horror movie, but it excels as a time capsule of the end of the hippie era and the beginning of the great dissolution in that culture that would lead to hedonistic excesses of the 1970s and the real horror of the Regan led 1980s. It is such a strange little pretentious mess that it is frustrating but also engaging thought its flourishes and high camp.

The film opens with a Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Robin Ward) dueling and subsequently being thrown out of his university. He runs off to Canada to study brain control technology with another Professor. Victor uses this technology to turn rivals into killing machines who murder those who displease him. Frankenstein also seems very averse to taking his shirt off or indulging in drinking or drugs. I wonder why?

Dr. Frankenstein on Campus thinks it is a very clever movie, it sets out to subvert the typical Frankenstein movie tropes. There is no apparent monster, there is no lurking around in graveyards or gothic atmosphere at all. It replaces all of that that with a sneering look at youth counterculture. Frankenstein is both immersed in this culture and an abject enemy of it, which brings us to the biggest problem in the film and that is Frankenstein’s characterization. He is by terms a charming person, an unreasonable snob, and then a monstrous criminal. There never feels like a connecting thread to these changes in personality, it inconsistent and distracting.

The most 70s face.

The saving grace of  Dr. Frankenstein on Campus is its campy nature, in particular the musical choices which give the film a film a comedic air while the content of the film is played straight for the most part. I can’t tell how much of this was intentional versus how much of it just hasn’t aged well at all. The effect of viewing in modern day creating a juxtaposition of elements that it is far and away the most interesting thing in a film that is slow and pretentious.

Spoiler territory ahead.

So, in the end it turns out that Victor Frankenstein was not in fact the doctor by the creature. The film drops some hints by having Frankenstein never indulging in drugs or alcohol and never wanting to take off his clothes in front of anyone else. The reveal scene of his body, covered in stitches that slowly start popping, is the only truly horrific scene in the entire film. It’s a clever moment and the fact that it goes on for so long and forces the viewer to sit there and watch this gross scene unfold is just the touch of sadism the rest of the film could have benefited from.


Yeah, I had a chemistry test like that too.

If you are in the mood for horror, I don’t think Dr. Frankenstein on Campus will satisfy you. If you are in the mood for a weird mess then I would definitely give this a look.

(I have no idea why this movie was originally titled Flick.)

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