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Blu-Ray : Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: April 9th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 2024

Lisa Frankenstein: Collector's Edition

Overview -

Blu-ray Review By: M. Enois Duarte 
From Diablo Cody and Zelda Williams, Lisa Frankenstein is a delightfully quirky dark fantasy tale but tonally stumbles and lurches its way to surprisingly amusing conclusion. The horror rom-com comes alive on Blu-ray with an excellent video presentation and a highly-satsifying DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack but a wimpy selection of supplements. Overall, the BD is Recommended.

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
BD-50 Dual-Layered
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p AVC/MPEG-4
Length:
101
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 for Feature, Dolby Digital 2.0 for Bonus Content) and French Canadian (DTS Digital Surround 5.1)
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH, French, Spanish
Release Date:
April 9th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

Given the film's title and promotional material, it should come as no surprise that Lisa Frankenstein is a strange, quirky, and fanciful tale from the wildly unconventional imagination of Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer's Body). However, her script is not a reimagining of the classic Mary Shelley novel. It has little to do with that immortal sci-fi horror masterpiece outside of the title and the love interest protagonist simply known as "The Creature." Instead, this modern fairy tale, set in 1989 and bathing in all its bright neon, new wave gaudiness, borrows more from our collective knowledge of Shelley's story and its various iterations within our culture, our familiarity with the legendary resurrected zombie. The plot is about a forlorn, cynical, and misunderstood teenage outcast still grieving the brutal murder of her mother and finding love in the most absurdly of unlikely places: the reanimated corpse of a young Victorian man who also was never loved.

Then again, it could be argued that it's not actually in the most unlikely of places. Absurd, absolutely yes. Unlikely? Not quite, since Cody's story makes very clear early on that Lisa (a wonderfully entertaining Kathryn Newton) spends much of her time at the cemetery talking to the grave of the young man who died in 1837.  And Newton, of Freaky, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and the new vampire flick Abigail, is fantastic in the role of a teen struggling to negotiate between the loss of her mom, typical high school drama and the verbal abuse of her stepmother (an equally entertaining Carla Gugino doing her best as the wicked stepmother). Although appearing meek and prudish, someone others can easily push around and take advantage of, Newton's performance hides an unassuming internal fury and fearless confidence brewing beneath that timid modesty, one that's ready to break out and explode.

Setting the fuse of that ticking time bomb is the slow build-up of events that, frankly, bully her into inevitably detesting the sugary neon pastels, bubblegum pop culture music, and conservative decadence of the 1980s. It initially begins with a combination of awkwardness at a house party, a spiked alcoholic beverage and a boy with inappropriate hands before a freak green lightning storm resurrects her lovelorn zombie (Cole Sprouse of Disney's The Suite Life of Zack & Cody fame). Stumbling into Lisa's life like some kind of gallant but mute knight in shining armor, the nameless young man manages to comically, if also ironically, animate the deep-seated fire silently burning within our young heroine. Once set ablaze, that low kindling flame turns out to be a cynical, raging goth queen with an appetite to piece her corpse (figurative) husband back together, which requires collecting body parts from wherever is convenient.

The outlandishly kooky fairy tale eventually intensifies to a predictable yet oddly surprising finale that serves as an amusingly twisted callback to James Whale's classic horror masterpiece Bride of Frankenstein but hysterically involves a tanning bed. However, despite its overall enjoyment with several memorable aspects, Lisa Frankenstein, much like its central protagonists, is also a bit clunky and even a little confused in its pacing and genre-bending tones. Its attempt at being a throwback to the horror comedies of the '80s is delightful and clever at times, but much of the story suffers from Cody's typical aspiration for shrewdly witty dialogue and sequences that go out of their way to be cleverly witty. Director Zelda Williams, daughter of the legendary Robin Williams in her feature-length debut, steers through these issues with adequate skill and clear a goal in sight, arriving at its desired destination fully intact although made of various body parts of the past. 

It's a fun blend of Heathers meets John Hughes flicks imagined through the eyes of Tim Burton.

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings Lisa Frankenstein to Blu-ray as a single-disc release with a flyer for the Digital Copy, unlocking the 4K UHD version in Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio. The dual-layered BD50 disc is housed inside the standard blue, eco-elite keepcase with a glossy slipcover. At startup, the disc goes straight to the standard menu screen with the usual options and music playing in the background.

Video Review

Ranking:

The 80s-themed horror romcom is brought to life on Blu-ray, electrifying the screen with a vibrant, flamboyant array of neon colors and richly-saturated primaries. Nearly every scene oozes tacky, cringy stereotypes of the decade, from the lively cotton-candy pinks of outfits and accessories to the energetic teal blues of furniture and painted walls. Equipped with a near-reference 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode, the freshly minted transfer is awash in a noticeable layer of grain, a deliberate choice to complement the story's 80s aesthetic. The video also boasts a crisp, brilliant contrast, allowing for excellent visibility of the background and the smallest object decorating various rooms. Black levels are accurate and inky throughout, bathing the darker, poor-lit sequences in deep, pitch-black shadows although they can occasionally engulf the finer details. Fine lines and objects are sharp and well-defined, exposing every nook and cranny of Lisa's house and in the Creature's costumes. Overall, the 1.85:1 image is an excellent presentation for a quirky, low-budget production. (Video Rating: 86/100)

Audio Review

Ranking:

The comedy rambles into home theaters with an equally notable and highly satisfying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack although there is one minor concern worth mentioning: the bass. Given the 80s song selections animating the movie, the LFE is understandably strong and boisterous, but the bass can come off a bit too hot and muddy on a few occasions, as if the low-end had been boosted beyond the song's original limits, creating more of a rumbling, booming effect instead of a tight, responsive oomph. Aside from that small distraction, the lossless mix exhibits a sharp, dynamic mid-range that maintains outstanding definition in the upper ranges during the loudest, ear-piercing moments. All the while, vocals are distinct and well-prioritized throughout, never drowned out by the track's more rambunctious moments. Imaging continuously feels broad and wide, layered with background action that's evenly balanced across the three front channels. Surround activity comes with impressive directionality, as various atmospherics freely and flawlessly move around the room to create a memorable, enveloping soundfield. (Audio Rating: 82/100)

Special Features

Ranking:

This Blu-ray edition is alive, made up of a rather wimpy collection of supplemental parts. 

  • Audio Commentary features director Zelda Williams discussing various aspects of the production
  • An Electric Connection (HD, 5 min) is a collection of cast & crew interviews talking about the production
  • Resurrecting the '80s (HD, 5 min) is more interviews looking at the inspirational origins behind the story, costumes and production design while reveling in the nostalgia for the decade
  • A Dark Comedy Duo (HD, 4 min) looks at the collaboration between Williams and Cody
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 4 min) houses five excised scenes
  • Gag Reel (HD, 2 min)

From the wildly unconventional imagination of Diablo Cody, Lisa Frankenstein is a delightfully quirky dark fantasy tale that wants to be a throwback to the horror comedies of the '80s. But as clever as it can occasionally be with its genre-bending humor, much of the tone and pacing stumbles and lurches to a surprisingly amusing and well-earned conclusion. The horror rom-com comes alive on Blu-ray with an excellent video presentation and a highly satisfying DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack but a wimpy selection of supplements. Overall, the BD is Recommended.

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about the gear used for this review

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