Director's Commentary: Terror of Frankenstein | Chicago Reader

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The forgotten British-Swedish coproduction Terror of Frankenstein (1977) gets a fictional commentary track featuring the director (played by Clu Gulager), the screenwriter (Zack Norman), and ultimately star Leon Vitali (playing himself). The conceit works pretty well at first: the source movie, a largely visual and remarkably faithful adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel, isn't bad, and the sour banter between the director and screenwriter adds a second layer of intrigue without obscuring the original movie. But the more writers Jay and Tim Kirk develop the commentary track into a dramatic story of its own, revealing a series of murders that took place during the shoot and after the movie's release, the more the commentary fights the movie and pales in comparison. The metamovie layer is rescued only by a rich irony: when the filmmakers record their comments, the killings have turned Terror of Frankenstein into a midnight-movie sensation. Tim Kirk directed.

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