Fun, but fairly pointless Rocky Horror wannabee

A shameless but possibly successful bid to achieve the cult status of the comedy horror film


Kathryn Newton in Lisa Frankenstein Credit: Michele K Short

Lisa Frankenstein


Reviewed by John Nathan

Adding a modern unremarkable first name to a surname with historical or literary heft can make for some funny films. Plots write themselves with such titles as Nigel Moses, about a modern-day reluctant prophet, and Jeff Einstein about a washing machine engineer whose spin cycle forms a black hole (I’m making these up).

In Lisa Frankenstein we have a 1980s loner schoolgirl who hangs out in a disused Victorian cemetery where she confides in the memorial of a young pianist. A sequence of cut-out animation tells us during the opening credits that he died unmarried in an accident.

One night lightening strikes the very grave where she hangs out and up pops the deceased with more flesh on his bones than is possible after 100 years in the ground. No matter, science is not the point.

What is the point is that director Zelda Williams (daughter of Robin) has made a film that makes a shameless and possibly successful bid for Rocky Horror-style cult status, only with less music and more axe-murdering.

Dammit, there is even a Janet. Here though she is Lisa’s hateful stepmother who wants to have our sardonic teenage heroine sectioned for being less perfect than her birth daughter. The back story is that Lisa’s dad remarried after his wife was killed by the film’s first axe murderer. Gore and gags abound.

Kathryn Newton is funny and savvy in the title role: half the silent screen star Lillian Gish and half the very loud sound-era star Bernadette Peters.

This is a funny, though also slightly pointless, one and a half hours. 

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