Director/Screenplay – Ricardo Islas, Based on the Novel Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley, Producers – Ricardo Islas, Andrew C. Mathews, Linda Mensch & John Vitiritti, Music – Jesus Rueda, Visual Effects – David Pellenz, Makeup Effects – Ticia Martyr, Lauren Alexis Murray, Brian Thomson & John Vitiritti, Art Direction – John Vitiritti. Production Company – Thespis/Alpha Studios.
Adam Stephenson (Victor Frankenstein), Michelle Shields (Elizabeth Lavenza), Tim Krueger (The Monster), Chris Margetis (Jager), Paul Barile (Rowley), Ticia Martyr (Agatha), Bruce Spielbauer (Blind Man), Ruth Terefe (Safi), Frank Warpeha (Felix), James Evans (Priest), Matt Labotka (Knives), Wesley Saint Louis (Bartoul), Drake Mefestta (Kirk), Mike Fisher (Natch), Shannon Edwards (Percival), Jay Disney (Henry)
A monster flees as it is hunted by soldiers and takes refuge in the woodhouse of a cabin where a blind man and his daughter Agatha live. The blind man’s son returns with his newlywed wife Safi but the monster kills them all. Victor Frankenstein takes his fiancée Elizabeth Lavenza to an island to be married. Frankenstein has brought a group of hired soldiers along to protect them. Soon the monster arrives, destroying the only boat and killing everyone in its way. As the party shelter in the church, Frankenstein confesses to the others how he brought the creature to life. Because he spurned the creature, it has made the promise that it will be with him on his wedding day.
Frankenstein: Day of the Beast was something like the nineteenth film for Uruguayan director Ricardo Islas. Islas has shown a strong genre bent in other works like Crowley (1987), Full Moon (1994), the Mexican-made To Kill a Killer (2007), and the US-made likes of Lockout (2006), Night Fangs (2006), Zombie Farm (2009), Bachelor’s Grove (2014) and The Sacrifice (2015).
Ricardo Islas makes another adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). The question you might ask after some fifteen other adaptations of the book (see below) not to mention assorted sequels, parodies, monster mashes and adult takes, is what just another version might offer. The film opens in ways that catch your attention – it starts in the middle of the book with the scenes of the monster hiding at the de Lacey cabin. Islas bears reasonable faith to the book during these sections. He brings out the minor character of Safi – and is the only film version to actually have her as Muslim. About the only aspect we don’t get is the scenes with the monster listening in and learning to speak English. The biggest change however is having him slaughter all four people present in the cabin and, it is implied, rape Safi.
The film then jumps ahead to the scenes where the monster comes after Frankenstein on his wedding night – while this exists more as a threat in most other films, it is something that Islas builds out into a siege situation that takes up more than three-quarters of the film with Frankenstein, Elizabeth and others on an island as the monster comes after them. No such sense of siege exists in any other film version.
The one thing that Ricardo Islas does is play up the monster angle far more than any other film version – the film is, after all, subtitled ‘Day of the Beast’. This is a version of Frankenstein that has none of the sympathy for the monster that the other versions do, none of the pathos of scenes with Boris Karloff playing with children in Frankenstein (1931). There are none of the anguished scenes with the monster confronting its creator and being rejected – this is only something surmised by Frankenstein in voiceover accompanying a flashback. All the monster does is kill and (it is implied) rape the women, including Elizabeth at the film’s climax.
Ricardo Islas does not hold back on the gore effects and gives us plentiful scenes with soldiers with their intestines torn out or the monster punching through the door of the church and the priest’s chest to rip out his heart.
The film’s sense of period is all over the place. The women wear Regency dress but the men wield muskets (that also appear to be breech reloading) and are dressed like pioneers. While the original novel takes place in Germany, the location here is never specified but everyone has American accents excepting for Shannon Edwards as the manservant Percival who speaks with a Germanic accent.
Other Frankenstein adaptations are:– the famous Thomas A. Edison produced silent short Frankenstein (1910); the lost Life Without Soul (1915); the lost Italian The Monster of Frankenstein (1920); the classic Universal adaptation Frankenstein (1931) with Colin Clive as the Baron and Boris Karloff as the monster; Hammer’s The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) with Peter Cushing as the Baron and Christopher Lee as the monster, which spun out its own series of sequels; Frankenstein (tv movie, 1973) starring Robert Foxworth as the Baron and Bo Svenson as the monster; Frankenstein: The True Story (1974), a lush British tv mini-series starring Leonard Whiting as the Baron and Michael Sarrazin as the creature; the Swedish-Irish production Victor Frankenstein (1977) with Leon Vitali as Frankenstein and Per Oscarsson as the monster; David Wickes’s dreary tv movie Frankenstein (1992) with Patrick Bergin as the Baron and Randy Quaid as the monster; Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) with himself as the Baron and Robert De Niro as the monster; the tv mini-series Frankenstein (2004) with Alec Newman as Frankenstein and Luke Goss as the monster; Danny Boyle’s stage version of Frankenstein (2011) with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternating the role of Frankenstein and creation; and Victor Frankenstein (2015) with James McAvoy as Frankenstein.