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Inspector Kemp fills us in with more on ILM's defunct FRANKENSTEIN feature

Hey folks, Harry here... Since running that clip I've had dozens of ILMers emailing me about the production and what an epic film they would have made it if given the chance. Also there were a lot of myths about the film that were... taken away. First off, this was... by no means... to be a remake of FRANKENSTEIN using CGI. This was called FRANKENSTEIN VS THE WOLFMAN and was to be a horror film and was to be scary. The comedic aspects that came in, were brought onto the script by the nimrods at Universal that clusterfucked the whole deal. Trying to DISNEY-fy the whole thing. Tis a shame really, this last Saturday I threw my 2nd SATURDAY MORNING FILM FEST for kids at the Alamo Drafthouse where I showed a room filled with children... literally packed with them... FORBIDDEN PLANET, but before that, I showed a special I have in 16mm called MONSTERS WE'VE KNOWN AND LOVED that was narrated by Joseph Cotton and detailed the history of the Horror film up until 1965 or so. You should have heard those kids' "ewwwwwww" and "aaaaaaahhhhhh" at the ol Boris Karloff FRANKENSTEIN and MUMMY... as well as the Lon Chaney Jr WOLFMAN. In fact during the section on Universal Horror films, there was this little 6 year old sitting near me, that had their hands up on his face, and was looking out from between parted fingers... mouth hung open and a smile creeping out. Meanwhile the adults in the room were loving it. Universal's execs... a buncha geniuses I tell ya!

Herr Harry,

Inspector Kemp here, and I wanted to thank you for keeping your readers aware of the tragedy that was "Frankenstein" at ILM. As a way of showing my thanks, I'll include some nifty tidbits about the movie. A lot of us ILMers are bitter about this project being canned, and I am grateful that others are upset as well.

This would have been revolutionary filmmaking. As I'm sure you're aware, the SIGGRAPH test footage was in color, not the b&w that appears on your site. I noticed that you did not include the amazing soundtrack by Gary Rydstrom, which is a shame. Gary was also going to design the sound for the film. That man is genius.

There were to be 2000+ shots on "Frankenstein vs. The Wolfman", as we called it in house. From the very start, this project was doomed. I was told that if the project wasn't green-lit, many would be out of a job (they were anticipating huge layoffs as SW1 wrapped), which is what happened despite the green light from Uni. The hope had been that as folks wrapped their work on SW1 (or the Mummy or Sleepy Hollow), they would move on to "Frankenstein". No such luck. There have been some great animators who have been let go, protegees of Steve "Spaz" Williams and the like.

There were several shots that we were asked to axe by Universal, including the opening scene with the Wolfman in the town fountain. Why? Because 'water is too expensive to CG'. !!!! The script had some "issues", such as the late appearance of the monster, and a character called think JarJar is loathed-! I blew it off when Frank Biondi got fired. But then "Babe: Pig in the City" bombed and Casey got the boot, too. It was all downhill from there. Casey had helped bring David Bowie on board as the voice of Dr. Pretorius. With Casey gone, the casting was dubious. The guy who played Harold in "Harold & Maude" was up for the voice of Novo, as well as one of the ladies from "Rugrats". It was hard to get things nailed down. First the release date was August 2000, then it was pushed back til Halloween 2000 (a better choice IMHO). We were all committed and looking forward to working on this project, now many of us are seen working with pygmy skeletons and a scorpion king. HA! It is such a shame that this movie will never be made. You try and shrug it off and say "that's show biz", but it's really a revelation of the dark, stupid forces that run Hollywood.

Inspector Kemp out.

Readers Talkback
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  • May 1, 2000, 1:35 a.m. CST

    Now, this was a movie I coulda sunk my teeth into..


    ... Howard the fuckin duck gets made but this seems like a bad idea. That's Hollywood. Ya know what would be cool? a SIGGRAPH version of Dracula or Nosferatu maybe. The old hollywood, James Whale aesthetiscism is hugely under-represented these days and Frankie Vs Fido would've been cool!!! CIAO.

  • May 1, 2000, 1:41 a.m. CST

    Try Dracula

    by 0007

    Then with the success it brings, Universal executives will be scrambling to get Frankenstein vs. the Wolf Man back in action!

  • May 1, 2000, 1:57 a.m. CST

    Now THIS $!#**! Sickens ME!!

    by Kincaid2

    Ok, here it is, a no holds barred, tell it like it is, get ready to get kicked out of aicn for the rest of my life, NO BS hold no punches post...SORRY FOR NO SPACES :-( Please, let me NOT be banned for an opinion, but rather, if need be, omit the post...though no obscenities will be released... Hollywood is full of fat $hit head no talent, nepotism, blood sucking, nut kicking, mind numbingly insultingly inferior mental midgets whose sole purpose is to take every film lover, bend us over a dirty filthy sink in and shove that Hollywood meat so far up us we can choke on their cajones... If I GO ONE MORE GOD DAMN YEAR WITH UNORIGANAL, CLICHED, UNEVENTFUL, Inventive content that would actuall make me THINK, feel, cry, beleive, anything for you know who's sake, then I should just get off my FAT ASS AND DO SOMETHING MYSELF...oh, $%%#, who am I fooling... I feel like that kid in school you see with the glasses that always gets his ass kicked, his lunch knocked to the floor, and everybody laughes. ESPECIALLY THAT FAT PUDGY FACED HILTERESQUE BULLY WHO YOU WISH TO GOD YOU COULD RIP HIS...oh...ok, I'll cool down... BUT THAT BULLY IS HOLLYWOOD. It's like a prostitute. Asks us for our $$ and $#ucks us! AND LEAVES US WITH NO REMORSE...To this day she won't return my calls...OH, shi*, anyway... This movie would have been GROUNDBREAKING. That is why it was DOOMED. It did not have a flying turd or big breasted blonds who need to save the earth. HEAVEN FORBID, the 'talentless screenwriter' and those 'bozos' at ILM would NEVER OFF MADE A PRETTY BOY HERO so it 'couldn't have been worth it..' If 12 year old girls are going to dictate what WE filmgeeks will see than WE MUST BAND TOGETHER AND JUST BOYCOTT EVERY GOD DAMN FILM HOLLYSHMUTZ FEEDS US excpect for the films that deserve know, all two of them per year. That's not realistic though. I wish to god I could just pull talent out of my ass and get something made that can kick every film in the nuts and move people in ways that NOBODY THOUGHT POSSIBLE. THAT IS WHAT FILMS NEED TO DO! Remember the MAGIC of ET, Starwars, Indiana Jones, Back To The Future, Tron, Bladerunner, And for some of you others, the Evil Dead Trilogy, Jaws, and much more...What happened?!?!?! We need to do something to ensure that THEY WILL CONTINUE and not the hunk of the month festivals every week, or the lame, "Girl gets guy, they lose each other, girl gets guy" I swear on my life I will not be satisfied til I see every fat cat f-ball in holly wood have a fat stroke and keel over so REAL TALENTS can walk over them and say "FU#! OFF, It's TIME WE TAKE OVER" Of course, that is NOT reality. WE WILL LOSE "THE OTHERS", NO FRANKENSTEIN, but we WILL HAVE A GOD DAMN 'N sync movie...CONFIRMED.... OH, hell, this doesn't even scratch the surface of what I feel but G.DAMMIT I can't space the messages so I'll keep it at that. I HATE HOLLYWOOD. WE NEED TALENT. The rest can drop... Kincaid

  • May 1, 2000, 2:05 a.m. CST


    by Syd Mead

    I saw an interview on a Canadian TV show that had Spaz talking about working with John K. of Spumco (Ren & Stimpy) fame. I wonder if anything came out of these great/warped minds?? I remember he was gabbing about being pitched off Skywalker Ranch for trespassing on Lucas's "inner fortress" with a question. He also mentioned that he tells everyone that Elvis was Canadian. --Syd.

  • May 1, 2000, 3:15 a.m. CST

    Stop It!

    by Flmlvr

    This is so so sad. The more I see of this just reiterates how utterly revolutional and kick ass this film would have been. Stop pandering towards the demographics. Just make the damn film and people will come. When you try too hard to make people happy, it just doesn't work. Jesus, I know this is a business and there is money at stake, but what happened to the risk taking, the sheer love of film this business used to run off of. Sleep on that, then think twice about greenlighting Porky's 2...err I mean American Pie 2.

  • May 1, 2000, 5:04 a.m. CST

    Whay not make the Film?

    by pablolobo

    Why not take the idea someplace else? Europe? France? England? Japan? Squaresoft (FFtheMovie? I know stupid question, Boris Karloff's likeness is owned by Universal. So? Use Berni Wrightson's equally disturbing monster. The Wolfman is the Wolfman, I mean Universal can't have a liscence on all versions of the Wolfman? Right? They aren't the begin and end all of this right? Maybe I need to go back to my fantasy world?

  • May 1, 2000, 6:02 a.m. CST

    Damned Studio Execs.

    by 60091

    'You maniacs!! You screwed it up!! God Damn you all to hell!! Not looking forward to how 'Planet of the Apes' will be be watered down for kiddie consumption either.

  • This is such shit! Frank vs. Wolfie would have been a great movie. The more I see about this now-dead projects, the more upset I get. Oh, and another thing, how in the holy hell do so many stupid, visionless people get executive jobs at major studios? Next time I sneak onto the Universal Lot (which is an annual event), I'm going to make a point of wearing my clothes inside out and uttering, "Duh" every thirty seconds. I'm sure I'll be employed within the hour. Does anyone out there know any obscenely rich horror fans who could bankroll this film?

  • May 1, 2000, 9:31 a.m. CST


    by pablolobo

    Tel me something, why is it we have independant films, but no one dare go into the animation areas of independant films? Fear? Money? Lack of vision? Remember, the US audience isn't the only audience that money can be made off. Need I remind you of 123 million people in Japan, one billion in China. God knows the pop in Europe but when Asterix and Obelix (the good parts were CGI)is the highest grossing French Film of the year, you know animation will sell. Another plus to the Animation Genre which is always overlooked, once the film is made all you have to do is sign the top actors in various parts of the world to dothe voices and it sells! Instant hit. So again, who has the balls to make the investment? pablolobo

  • May 1, 2000, 11:25 a.m. CST

    re: pablolobo

    by marsyas

    In animation, they generally do the voices first. It's easier to match the animation to the voices than the voices to the animation.

  • May 1, 2000, 11:50 a.m. CST


    by sleep

    You did it for Titanic, and South Park The Movie, why not for this? Also why not get people from England or Japan to help create this, with your animators. England and Japan have the top animators in the world what could be the ultimate animation movie since Akira, what does Hollywood, always have to be second best when it comes to animation, okay you've got Disney, but thats for kids. Adults love animation, especially if it's only aimed at adults (15 and upwards), but the only animation to come out of Hollywood that's aimed at adults is porno crap like Friz the Cat and Jungle Burger, and Lord of the Rings. (South Park: the movie is aimed at kids also) Is this how Hollywood wants to be remembered porno cartoons for adults? If so, you might as well leave the mature adult animation Japan, and you keep on feeding your frustrated American audiences with kiddie cartoons from Disney, and Don Bluth. (Land before Time part 28 anyone?) Come on Hollywood do something daring for once, get Paul Verhoven to direct one or Quenton Tarrentino, Wes Craven, John Carpenter. If you can spend $20 million doller+ on an actor, you can push that in to animation films like Frankenstien Vs the Wolf Man. After all Universal have always come up with fantastic horror movies all through the decade, why not carry on the tradition, through to the 21st century, with Animation movies for adults?

  • May 1, 2000, 11:54 a.m. CST

    pygmy skeletons & Scorpion King

    by Lazarus Long

    My guess is that this guy is now working on The Mummy 2, which might be entertaining like the last one, but far from the artistic endeavor that the ILMers were hoping Frankensterin would be. Sorry to see it turned out like this...

  • May 1, 2000, 12:28 p.m. CST

    My guess as to why movies like this don't get made

    by moviet00l

    Because the very vocal minority who believes that animation and r-rated fantasy films will make money is just that - a minority. More specifically - it's us. Hate to break it down like this, but the only people interested in seeing adult oriented animation and really disturbing monster movies all reside here, and that just isn't enough to justify a movie studio taking a chance. New Line may be the only studio with some bucks that's the exception, but other than that, fantasy fans are out of luck. Does anyone see that changing? Ever?

  • May 1, 2000, 1:08 p.m. CST

    Another awesome idea bites the dust!!!


    I finally went to the AIN'T IT COOL NEWS-site and was shocked to hear that they nixed the whole FRANKENSTEIN VS. THE WOLFMAN project!!! I was looking forward to this ever since I first heard about it!!! Can't those studio chuckleheads do ANYTHING right?!!? I'm a huge fan of the old UNI-MONSTER EPICS and I always thought that the original FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN was the biggest disappointment of the bunch, BUT, hands-down, it had the MOST potential to be a seriously WHOOP-ASS flick if remade!!! And putting it out at Halloween? Gee, ya think?!! DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHH! I have yet to see a worthwhile horror flick put out on the coolest and most seemingly LOGICAL holiday for that type of film ... Halloween!!! The "so-so" CGI-fest HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL was made a kazillion times better to me and my friends because we were actually in the perfect frame-of-mind for that particular genre when it was released!!! Go figure. Take HALLOWEEN-H20, for instance! JOE SHMOE-STUDIO EXECUTIVE: "A Halloween film. Yeah, let's put it out in the Summer!" Good thinkin' Socrates!!! Just wait! It's only a matter of time before some feeble-minded executive screws up, puts a horror movie out at Halloween, the movie becomes a MATRIX-like phenomenon, then "BLAMMO" ... we'll have horror movies leakin' out the butt at that time of year for all eternity! These people are so afraid to take a chance with anything!!! That's why Tim Burton's a genius! With the exception of SUPERMAN LIVES, he somehow gets these knumbskulls to say "YES" to all of his cool, off-the wall ideas!!! God Bless 'Em!!! Hey, maybe HE could get this project going again!!!

  • May 1, 2000, 1:32 p.m. CST

    Where are the monsters now? In the executive boardroom.

    by mephisto666

    It's such a shame that no-one seems to be able to do an honest-to-goodness horror these days. I enjoyed The Mummy recently, but it was an adventure film, not a horror. Where are the mummys, vampires, wolfmen, creatures of yesteryear? The last film that I would say was a relatively decent horror would be Blade, but even so it lacked the gothic element required. Blade, like The Mummy was too aware of itself, too knowing to count. Does that that make sense to anyone else?

  • May 1, 2000, 4:10 p.m. CST


    by randreash

    WOW. Great stuff. Too bad folks out there have grown so cold in this world to say such terrible things about doing a project like this. Some day when all these clowns are dead projects will be done anyway and the public at large will love it. To the people that did the work. I have no idea how good of a script would go behind a cgi Frankenstein film, but the images are just what I would expect from ILM. And to the rude folks trashing this project, let's see some of your work.

  • May 1, 2000, 4:51 p.m. CST

    This fuckin' sucks ass!!!!!!

    by Streak_Z

    Damn it! THIS PISSES ME OFF! I was looking foreward to this so much. I was planning on scheduling my life around the release date, but Noooooo00000000OOOOOOOO000000ooooooo! They had to screw a whole bunch of people over! I can't believe that they fired SPAZ! He did great work on Spawn. Grrrr!!

  • May 2, 2000, 1:07 a.m. CST


    by pablolobo

    Marsyas, Las time I checked Disney did not ask Danish actors to do the voices for their Disney movies. So whatever point you are trying to make I believe is lost. Sure when they first make the animation, actors are chosen, so what? Once it goes international they don't reshoot the film for the foriegn actors. And in this case you are taking characters that already have a long history in all the movies, no ators are really required, just hack it. Movie001, sorry pal, but in America the fanboy audience is still the only audience that cares about animation. Last time I checked Japan made tons of money off its animation. BUt still, think about what Harry said about all the little kids and the adults that recognize these characters and love them. It would be a huge sell worldwide. My 2 kroners.

  • May 2, 2000, 4:31 a.m. CST

    gah... phlebchtz...

    by Thomas_W

    oh, c'mon, who here actually expected something this cool to survive? And y'know, I think it could've worked with the American audiences. Looking at that clip, it barely looks like CGI. If the whole movie was done with that style, I don't think adults would care or even notice that it's animated... at least until the execs would insist on some kind of funny cartoon effects to work on Frank so that they could market toys with bug-out eyes or some such crap. What they really should do with such a kick-ass idea, is do a complete Halloween marketing blitz. Release the movie on or near Halloween, simultaneously with the kiddie costumes, themed candy bars, action figures, trick-or-treat bags. Make the movie synonymous with Halloween, and not just the way it is now, with every half-assed slasher film having a half-assed costume tied to it (ooh, a guy in a spooky mask with a knife... how original). Use it as a springboard to market some of the classic horror icons to the Halloween consumers. Oh well... maybe in a perfect world...

  • May 2, 2000, 8:47 a.m. CST

    re: pablolobo again

    by marsyas

    I don't think the international voice talent is what would make or break the film. Besides, you said "various parts of the world", which includes the U.S. last time I checked. The English language dialogue would be done first, so if you don't have the budget for the big names up front, your idea is at best half-baked.

  • May 2, 2000, 7:26 p.m. CST

    Here's an idea

    by Ursus

    To paraphrase, there are alternatives to bitching. Something that I truly believe, always have and always will, is that people are defined by their failures. ILM wasn't able to pull this over at Universal. Fine. There are other studios. This has been mentioned by one or two other talk-backers. I'm thinking of something a bit deeper. Instead of bitching and complaining about this movie not being made, write your own. Enter it in contests. Hustle it around. If you watch something and you hate it, write a better version. If something potentially great gets shot of of the water, use the imagination that failure stirred up to create something that'll succeed. Naive? Yes. A wee bit hopeful? Yes. But at least it's better than complaining about how small an imagintion "they" (whoever "they" happens to be) have. Shit. I probably could have shortened all of that into 'stop bitchin', keep wishin', and do something to make that wish come true.' I wish I thought of that fifteen minutes ago.