Kicking back to watch a punk-gore independent horror movie is a true American pastime. The ’80s were famous for these movies where practical effects outshined the actors; the gore was the star of the show. So it’s no surprise that a masterful hardcore special effects artist like Damien Leone decided to multitask and direct movies of his own. You may have heard of one or two already: Terrifier and Terrifier 2, but there is another called Frankenstein vs. the Mummy (2015).
Taking a cue from the Dark Universe which believe it or not isn’t a new concept, Leone pits two of the greatest supernatural forces against each other.
This isn’t the first time classic movie monsters crossed over for mortal combat, they have been doing it since the early 1940s. It began with Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man — no synopsis needed — then the count himself flew into the fray with House of Dracula (1946), where The Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s Monster occupy the same timeline. Slapstick duo Abbott & Costello did a few movies with Universal Monsters as special guests but by then they had become more of a punchline than a menacing force. The gimmick made a modern mainstream comeback when Freddy met Jason in 2003, then Alien vs. Predator in 2004.
If you are wondering, “Hey Leone can’t make a movie using Universal properties,” you’re right. But Universal only holds the rights to certain creatures as they appear in their films. For instance, you can make a Frankenstein movie, but you can’t use green skin or put bolts on his neck. Leone’s monster (Constantin Tripes) resembles more of a Deadite than a blockhead. And he is more sentient (and rapey) than Universal’s which is one of the more interesting parts of his movie.
The movie itself is passable. The best part of it — you guessed it — is the make-up effects. If Leone used any sort of CGI it is not visible onscreen. The script, written by Leone, attempts to be kind of like Cronenberg’s The Fly wherein a damsel is distressed over her boyfriend’s obsession with science, specifically reanimating the dead using cadaver parts. Meanwhile, she is also involved in an Egyptian archeological discovery of a mummy that comes to life.
But none of that matters. If you are going to watch this movie it’s purely to appreciate Leone’s artistry as a make-up artist (the standoff in the title doesn’t happen till the end). He does a great Maniac (1980) homage in one scene which may be better than the original. Also, his creature designs are fantastic. The Mummy make-up took six hours to complete before shooting, and it rivals that of the mega-budget Tom Cruise remake with its team of expensive artists and computer rendering.
If you love Terrifier and Terrifier 2, you should check out Frankenstein vs. the Mummy. It is currently playing on Tubi for free.
Frankenstein vs. the Mummy (2015)
The mummy of a cursed pharaoh and a reanimated corpse terrorize a medical university. Only an Egyptologist and a college professor, the deranged Dr. Frankenstein, may be able to stop the creatures before it’s too late.