Finishing up a recent Frankenstein binge, I watched Roger Corman's adaptation of Brian Aldiss' Frankenstein Unbound starring Raul Julia as Doctor Frankenstein, John Hurt as a time-traveling scientist with thematic similarities to the doomed scientist, and Bridget Fonda as Mary Shelley.
The special effects are what you'd expect from Corman, so we'll let those pass. We'll also let Bridget Fonda slide for being far prettier than the real Mary Shelley. My big gripes are with Raul Julia's overly sinister portrayal of Victor Frankenstein, and the presentation of the Monster as a stupid, homicidal brute. I've never read the book, so I'm not sure how much of that is Aldiss and how much is Corman; I just know it's not right.
I know why they did it. Julia's Frankenstein is a guy who's deliberately trying to play God, a theme that's often attributed to Shelley's novel. And the moronic Monster makes Frankenstein's bid for diety-status all the more pathetic. But Shelley did a fine job of communicating the folly of messing in God's territory in her version. She's just more subtle about it than Frankenstein Unbound.
Because I don't have a ton of respect for Corman, and Aldiss is an award-winning science fiction novelist, I'm tempted to give more blame to Corman. But then I remember that I was pretty disappointed by the one Aldiss book I've read, and I also notice that he wrote a sequel to Frankenstein Unbound called Dracula Unbound in which Hurt's character goes back in time again to stop Dracula from assassinating Bram Stoker before Stoker can finish writing his famous novel. I don't know why Aldiss has this fascination with using his hero to turn great authors into gonzo journalists, but I'm not into it.