FRANKENSTEIN ISLAND (1981) Reviews and overview

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‘Humans controlled by an alien brain!’

Frankenstein Island is a 1981 American horror feature film about a group of male balloonists stranded with alien Amazon women amidst Frankenstein experiments.

Written [as Jaques Lecouter], co-produced, edited and directed by Jerry Warren (The Wild World of Batwoman; Creature of the Walking Dead; Face of the Screaming Werewolf; Teenage Zombies).

The Cerito Films-Chriswar production stars Robert Clarke, Steve Brodie, Cameron Mitchell (Trapped Alive; Raw Force; The Toolbox Murders; Blood and Black Lace) and co-producer Robert Christopher. John Carradine (Vampire Hookers; The Bees; House of Dracula; et al) appears briefly in footage seemingly edited in from another production.

Actor Robert Clarke said he initially had high hopes for the film as he felt Warren “has a lot of enthusiasm and he can get a lot on the screen for the kind of money he spends. But it soon became pretty apparent that this wasn’t going to get much beyond what any of his others had achieved, and it wouldn’t reach Planet X or Time Barrier or even Sun Demon as far as quality”


“Veteran film stars slum for quick cash (Cameron Mitchell, Robert Clarke and the eternal John Carradine), disparate elements are pulled from assorted genres at random and reassembled into something wholly confusing, and the cast is costumed in garage sale castoffs […] Frankenstein Island has the tone of an earlier era, but the film’s quaintness bumps noggins with the sheer weirdness of the action.” AllMovie

“The movie’s flaws are obviously legion, but the worst by far is that there are a lot of great ideas absolutely buried in the script, without pity or eulogy. Alien cavegirls? Bloodless near-indestructible zombies, who are apparently aware enough of their own plight to resort to drugs? Doctor Frankenstein, who was driven to conquer death, has discovered infinite power through death? How can a movie with these things be so tedious?” The Bad Movie Report

“The ghost of Doctor Frankenstein, provided by one minute of footage of John Carradine, keeps on making appearances, uttering the same lines over and over again (probably all they shot!), which makes it all the more surreal. Cameron Mitchell and Robert Clarke are also on hand to emote. A really weird but entertaining movie.”

” …imagine production values that wouldn’t even cut it for the worst mid-70s live-action Saturday morning kids show–aimed at five and six-year-olds […] Our comical castaways soon get treated to some Hollywood jungle women wearing animal skin bikinis (Jerry doesn’t even have the sense to relieve the boredom here with some exposed skin).” DVD Drive-In

“Trying to make a coherent whole of this mess would have taxed the best writers, directors and editors in the world; with Jerry Warren in all three capacities, the result is some of the most ambitious low-budget ineptitude to make it to the screen. Though the movie has several genre name actors, most of them seem lost and confused, and who can blame them…” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“Really, nothing makes any sense in this movie at all. I think I’d have to watch it all again to get an idea of what was supposed to be happening, but there’s no way in hell I’m going to do that. The effects were all terrible, but it was almost too bad to be by accident. I don’t really know how to describe this thing beyond the words “terrible” and “confusing”. Films in Boxes

“There are zombie slaves, unexplained magnetic forces that attack people’s wrists, a flailing piecemeal monster that shows up in the final reel to knock a few tables over, exotic Amazon dancing, and a Benji impersonator (or in-dog-anator) to keep things limping along, with Carradine bellowing from his optically printed window every few minutes to prevent you from nodding off.” Horror 101 with Doctor AC

“The laboratory “set” is just furniture on a soundstage without flats. An ammo box painted pink is set dressing. When our heroes return to the island with the military (the uniforms are hilarious) after the lamest “action” finale you’ve ever seen (yes, the Frankenstein Monster shows up), there is, of course, no sign that anyone was ever there. Utter dreck and Warren is solely to blame…” Johnny LaRue’s Crane Shot

“The effects are pretty mediocre, but passable-ish for a B-movie. Also, from the outside, the Frankenstein abode looks like the director’s house rather than a stately gothic mansion, which doesn’t exactly do wonders for the imagination […] The film’s editing is choppy, but that could just be a problem with the print I watched, as could the in-and-out overexposure every now and then.” Not This Time, Nayland Smith

“We’re talking about a film which simply refuses to make sense. At least with Ed Wood, one got the feeling that he wanted it to make sense.  Here we have a mad fever dream of a movie, whose predictable if weird final twist just adds to that strange, dream-like trance state where this film dwells. Oh, well.  If it is any consolation, this was Jerry’s last film.” Rivets on the Poster

“Despite a crazy mix of elements–any one of which could have brought some excitement to this film–Frankenstein Island is a crushing bore from beginning to end. The dull ‘heroes’ wander around not doing much of anything–even the Kung Fu fight versus the zombies who all look like they just walked out of a beatnik cafe is boring–and the villains aren’t much more active or effective.” Terror Titans

“Though not scary in the least and very much PG-rated, I cannot recommend Frankenstein Island enough. It’s one of those rare movies that wallows shamelessly in the fact that it’s completely and utterly out of its mind and simply does not give a f*ck, and in this age of bland, lifeless movies by committee, Jerry Warren’s swan song stands as a monument to one man’s singular, demented artistic vision.” The Vault of Buncheness

” …a ludicrous mishmash of random elements, lovingly stirred into a burgoo of cinematic insanity” Peter Dendle, The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia

Contemporary reviews:

” …cultists may get a kick out of investigation to determine whether Frankenstein Island is terrible enough to rank among the worst films of all time. For the rest, this boring nonsense is an excruciating peek at just how low once-respectable marquee names can sink.” Fort Lauderdale News, March 30, 1982


Frankenstein Island is available to watch free online via Amazon Prime

Cast and characters:

Robert Clarke … Doctor Paul Hadley
Steve Brodie … Jocko
Cameron Mitchell … Clay Jayson
Robert Christopher … Mark Eden
Tain Bodkin … Curtis Ryan
Patrick O’Neil … Dino
Andrew Duggan … The Colonel
John Carradine … Doctor Frankenstein
Katherine Victor … Sheila Frankenstein von Helsing (as Kathrin Victor)
George Mitchell … Doctor von Helsing
Dana Norbeck … Jungle Girl
Laurel Johnson … Jungle Girl
Richard Banks … Angus
James Webb … The Monster
Marla Conner … Jungle Girl
Donna Green … Jungle Girl
Vic Schneider
Melvin … Self – Melvin the Dog
Mel Pralgo … Zombie (uncredited)

Filming locations:

Baja and Hollywood, California
Colossal Cave, Tucson, Arizona

Technical details:

97 minutes
Audio: Mono

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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