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‘Lisa Frankenstein’ - bringing camp back from the dead

A woman with red lipstick being dipped by a pale man in front of lightning.
Emily Monaco / THE GATEPOST

By Emily Monaco

Editorial Staff

The film “Lisa Frankenstein” was released just in time for Valentine's Day. The comedy-horror was directed by Zelda Williams, the daughter of famous comedian and actor Robin Williams, and written by Diablo Cody, writer of “Jennifer’s Body.” These two talented women came together to create an instant cult classic. 

Perfectly campy in every way, the film is set in 1989 and centers around high school senior Lisa Swallow (Kathryn Newton). Lisa is still getting acquainted with her new school and new family after witnessing the gruesome murder of her mother.

Throughout the film, instead of sympathy and compassion, everyone brushes off her trauma and expects her to get over it.

Playfully referred to as a “coming-of-rage-story” on its IMDb page, “Lisa Frankenstein” captures the struggle and awkwardness of a teenage girl growing into herself. 

She starts so shy and quiet and becomes this ultimately unforgiving goth babe. The character development of each role in the film is phenomenal. 

Lisa is not like other girls, I know how that sounds, but it’s true.

How many girls spend their time in a graveyard hyper-fixating on the specific grave of a young Victorian man?

She’s so weird, and I love her for that. 

Tucked away and scolded by her new stepmother, she unknowingly makes a wish to bring the deceased man back from the dead.

Creature, played by Cole Sprouse who is known for his role in “The Suite Life of Zach & Cody,” finds Lisa and the two begin an odd, but touching relationship together. 

This is one of those movies where moral justification is a prevalent theme. The people who deserve to get what's coming to them actually do which is so refreshing for a film these days. How often do you watch a movie and see instant justification via an axe? Not often. 

The set design alone is enough to blow you away - everything is authentically ’80s. It has something for everybody to enjoy. From the pastel bathrooms to the poster-scattered walls and Walkmans galore, “Lisa Frankenstein” perfectly captures pop culture from the late ’80s. 

The costumes are so attentive to detail. My personal favorite is the one she wears toward the end of the film. A big beautiful black costume made of tulle mimicking that of a Victorian dress while also staying true to being so totally retro.

The creativity of the director and the film should also be praised. 

Specifically, the opening credit scene is entirely animated. The amount of time it must have taken them to animate such a beautiful backstory for Creature must be acknowledged and appreciated. 

Williams' past directorial projects include short films such as “Shrimp” and “Kappa Kappa Die.” She also has been acting since 1994 in various films, music videos, and TV series. “Lisa Frankenstein” is her first ever feature-length film. 

Although receiving a 6.2/10 on IMDb, audiences have taken to social media platforms such as TikTok to share their overall love for the film. Most fans rave about the good qualities such as engaging storytelling with creative writing and the elements of horror that don’t overwhelm the major plot points of the film.

You will laugh, you will cry, and periodically, feel second-hand embarrassment for each character.

The film's fanbase will argue that this movie is underappreciated and I wholeheartedly agree. 

This is the kind of film that won’t be appreciated until five years after it has been released. It is a much-needed experience for audiences - it is just overall silly. We need more silly films - the industry is over-saturated with serious topics and remakes.

If you haven’t yet seen it, it is an absolute must-watch. A film to die for. 

Rating: A+

10/10 would rise from the dead to see again.



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