Movie Review: Lisa Frankenstein (2024) – Universal Blu-ray

April 19, 2024

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Like most teens at the ass-end of the eerie ‘80’s, Lisa Swallows (Kathryn Newton) is adjusting to life with a new stepmother… the obnoxious and self-obsessed Janet (a delightfully over-the-top Carla Gugino)… and stepsister, the cheery, popular Taffy (Liza Soberano)… a family she has been blended into lickety-fuckin’-split because her Dad got rather horny pretty much directly after mother was hacked to pieces by an axe-wielding psycho practically in front of her… As those of a certain age well and truly know, was often the way in those days…

So yeah… new family, dead mom, fuckin’ sucks… and while Taffy does her level-headed best to invite Lisa into her world, our heroine would rather spend her time in the local cemetery… the same one she ends up in after a disastrous party experience makes her wish she could be with the dead-as-a-doornail Victorian gent who’s grave she plops down next to… and while she simply wished to be deceased, a freak green-hued lightning storm resurrects said expired dude as a zombie (Cole Sprouse)… a zombie who is now smitten with Lisa!

While initially terrified of our muck-encrusted, former musician, love-struck Romeo (phew); Lisa soon warms to him… so much so, that she agrees to help him replace his missing body parts, no matter the means necessary to make that a reality.

As an aside, once those pieces are grafted on, The Creature gets a jolt of electricity from Taffy’s faulty tanning bed (won in a beauty pageant no less). This activates the new pieces’ usefulness while simultaneously restoring his appearance to its former glory!

Coming from Director Zelda Williams and Writer Diablo Cody (Jennifer’s Body), Lisa Frankenstein is a freaky, fractured fairy tale that manages to fill the screen with vivid color, ultra-quirky characters, and a dark sense of humor thatt stretches 666 miles wide!

If you’ve ever been in the mood for a John Hughes flick directed by Tim Burton, with the pointed satire of Heathers this funny fright flick will be right up your arcane alley as we are treated to the misadventures of Lisa who goes from awkward to awesome to… well still awesome, but a touch psychotic (but justifiably so) and her putrid paramour as they navigate the perils of teenage existence and murder (which in this universe admittedly go hand-in-severed-hand!

Speaking of good ol’ Lisa, she is brought to life by Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Abigail’s Kathryn Newton who absolutely owns the role as she brings a charm and strangeness to the screen in equal measure, and gives us a heroine that is enthralling to follow no matter how dark her journey becomes.

While the film is definitely a showcase for Newton, her co-stars are equally up to the task at hand, with Gugino un-apoligetically tearin’ up the scenery in her version of an evil, yet hilarious, step-mother that will have you loathin’ and laughin’ in equal measure, Soberano being incredibly charming and incredibly obtuse, and Sprouse managing to effectively emote with nary a hint of dialog for a majority of the picture’s runtime.

Additionally you have Joe Chrest as Lisa’s completely oblivious father, which is a nice callback to the similar role he plays on the equally ‘80s influenced series Stranger Things.

On par with the acting is the excellent set design, packed with houses appearing that actually look like the dwellings of the late ‘80s (with appropriately mauve and mint green color schemes) which along with the soundtrack (featuring many ‘80s tunes, some of which are the original tracks while others are cover versions… and while we are talkin’ music, the score by Isabella Summers is pretty damn awesome too!) make the entire affair seem like a flick actually from the times, rather than a modern piece… and believe you me cats n’ creeps, that shit ain’t easy (and I speak from experience).

All of the above is aided and abetted by the clever screenplay from Cody that manages to concoct a rad atmosphere of fairy tale/teen (at times sex) comedy/supernatural shocker/romance that really shouldn’t work, but ab-so-fucking-lutely does… while managing to toss references to then-current elements of pop culture around six ways to Sunday to keep those of us alive when the film is set well and truly entertained!

Speaking of “entertained”, your entertainment will continue after the main event’s credits have rolled thanks to a selection of special features (look, I’m trying… okay?!) to be found on this Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray release… special features that include: a collection of deleted scenes, a gag reel, a trio of behind-the-scenes featurettes, and an audio commentary courtesy of Williams that takes us through the film’s production in detail!

All in all, Lisa Frankenstein makes for a unique (yet comfortingly familiar), weird n’ wicked winner of a flick that’s guaranteed to hit all the right notes to satisfy lovers of the aforementioned Hughes and Burton equally!


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