Fantasia Review: Creature Designers: The Frankenstein Complex

Simon Rother

Hey there, horror fans! Your unofficial Fantasia yearly reporter for horror-movies.ca here, back to write exclusive reviews for the 4th consecutive year.

The first review to come your way is for “Creature Designers: The Frankenstein Complex”, a documentary that made its Canadian premiere at Montreal’s greatest film festival, Fantasia. Oh, and Guillermo del Toro was also present to receive the “Cheval Noir” award, an exclusive Fantasia trophy underlining his incredible career. No big deal.

The 80s were an incredible decade for horror, and that’s when special effects in the horror world truly took off. People like Steve Johnson, Rob Bottin, Rick Baker and Stan Winston all rose to public stardom due to their unbelievable work, something unheard of in the world of special FX. “Creature Designers” takes you through the complex composition of numerous effects from a variety of classic horror films, depicting the manner in which these sensational artists truly possess the “Frankenstein Complex”: having that insatiable urge and passion to “give life” to their creations and see them perform what they were made to or programmed to do. Whether it’s from rubbery textures, to foam structures, to animatronics, to any non-CGI effects you’ve seen in past movies, it’ll be dealt with in this documentary.

The advancement in technology also saw the development of CGI and how it complicated the world of these unbelievable artists, from the directors sometimes choosing the look of computerized effects over the hands-on craftsmanship of real, practical effects, to producers preferring CGI due to reduced costs.

Witness inspiring testimonies from directors Guillermo del Toro (Blade 2; Pacific Rim; the Devil’s Backbone; Crimson Peak), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London) and Joe Dante (Gremlins; Gremlins 2: The New Batch; The Howling), among many others. Understand how, despite countless cultures around the world living differently, the term “monster” is universal to all.

A truly extraordinary documentary that every horror fan needs to find a way to see, “Creature Designers: The Frankenstein Complex” merits a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars.


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