Doctor Franken (1980)

Article 3538 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-28-2011
Posting Date: 4-22-2011
Directed by Marvin J. Chomsky and Jeff Lieberman
Featuring Robert Vaughn, Robert Perault, David Selby
Country: USA
What it is: TV-Movie take on the Frankenstein story

A brilliant surgeon experiments with transplants on an unknown man brought to the hospital, much to the chagrin of a fellow doctor who has a secret of his own to hide.

The name that really caught my attention in the opening credits wasn’t that of any of the stars, but co-director/writer Jeff Lieberman, who I’ve liked ever since I saw SQUIRM. His presence gave me hope for something more interesting than just another TV-Movie rehash of the Frankenstein legend, which is what the title alone led me to expect. And I think it does, though the lowly 5.2 rating for this one on IMDB does leave me feeling that I’m somewhat out of step with the tastes of others on this one. I found it an unusual and interesting take on the story; the doctor is not trying to create life, but is trying to trying to develop new transplant techniques, with his guinea pig being a man who is technically dead because of his lack of brain activity; he is as surprised as anybody when the man returns to life. The movie does put forth the questionable premise that memories may exist in other parts of the human body than the mind; within the context of this story, the “creature” that is created has memories that originated from the man whose eyes he has received. The story itself is rather contrived, but the characters are well drawn, and both Robert Vaughn and Robert Perrault give very good performances. It’s not until the end of the movie that the movie gives off the air of a failed TV pilot; I suspect that the series would have involved the creation experiencing memories from any of his other transplanted parts, as well as trying to figure out his own identity. It’s an interesting idea, but in the context of a weekly series, it would have come across as increasingly silly. All in all, it’s a mixed bag, but one I must admit to liking.


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