Independent Horror Film produced by local artist to debut in Buffalo
by Jordan Canahai
If you’re like me and grew up loving the classic Universal Studios Monster movies, then you should definitely check out the latest opus from local filmmaker Emil Novak, Frankenstein’s Patchwork Monster, debuting next week at the North Park Theater. Filled with lots of scares and dark comedy, the film is an ambitious and original retelling of the classic Frankenstein story, mashing up elements of Mary Shelly’s novel, the James Whales films from the 1930s, and the British Hammer Horror films. It details the mad Dr. Frankenstein’s obsessive quest for immortality while putting many new twists on the material.
The independent film was produced, shot, written, and directed by Novak, in collaboration with others and in association with Buffalo Nickel Productions. “It’s been about two and a half years in production. I had to put it on the backburner for about a year for various reasons,” explains Novak. “We had already shot about thirty percent of the script which is why I didn’t scrap it. All the Mary Shelly era scenes we’re completed. When I returned to the project I had to recast some people in key positions before finally finishing filming last year.”
The inspiration for the film stems from Novak’s lifelong love of the horror genre and of course the Frankenstein monster in particular. “I love Hammer Horror films. When I was young those films were coming out of Britain and playing at the local Drive-In. I loved seeing those great veteran actors of the British theater bring classic horror characters to life. The beautiful damsels, and the Technicolor blood. At the same time I got turned onto the classic Universal Studios monster movies from my father—who would make it a point to watch them with me whenever they were on TV. All these things really instilled in me a love of the horror genre.”
The film’s cast includes many actors who will be familiar to those who have followed or worked closely with Buffalo’s film production scene, including Bill Kennedy as Dr. Frankenstein, Patrick Mallette as the Doctor’s assistant, Melantha Blackthorne as the Bride of Frankenstein, and Jason John Beebe as Lord Byron. “It was a wonderful experience working with so many great actors. One of the things that made the Hammer films—as well as the Universal pictures—so great was their utilization of extremely talented character actors from the leading roles on down to the smaller parts, and I knew early on that I wanted to do the same in my film.”
Novak is also well known as being the owner of Buffalo’s Queen City Bookstore. As such, Novak’s love for comic books is perhaps even greater than his love of horror films, and their influence is apparent in his work. “Because I’m a comic person I’ve always had an eye for sequential storytelling. Along with having a great, distinct comic book style, I think the film’s story works really well on a visual level. You could turn the sound off on most scenes and still be able to follow the narrative, which as far back as the silent era I’ve always felt was really important in movies.” The comic book store has been family owned for over 40 years and is located in North Buffalo on Main Street.
Independent filmmaking has been a great passion of Novak’s since his childhood, having grown up filming his own low-budget horror films with friends on Super 8. “I’m a professional artist and I love what I do, and it’s been great working with other people both behind and in front of the camera who are also passionate about filmmaking.” Despite the small scale of the production, Novak hopes the film will reach a wide audience going forward. Along with the premiere next week he’s in talks with the Transit Drive-In to have a screening there as well. Frankenstein’s Patchwork Monster will be debuting at Buffalo’s historic North Park Theater on Thursday, May 14th, at 9;30pm, a fitting venue for a film that both harkens affectionately back to the past while also serving as inspiration to independent filmmakers in Buffalo and beyond looking forward to the future.
Watch the trailer for Frankenstein's Patchwork Monster
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