Rodney Ascher and Tim Kirk—the director and producer, respectively, of the wonderful Shining documentary Room 237—have launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new project called Director’s Commentary: Terror of Frankenstein. How much do they want? That’s easy to answer: the pair are hoping to raise $15,000. What exactly is Director’s Commentary: Terror of Frankenstein? Well, that’s where it gets a bit weird. Maybe not as weird as thinking Stanley Kubrick faked the moon-landing footage, as one of the Room 237 interviewees claimed, but pretty darned strange nonetheless.
What we can say with certainty is that really is a film called The Terror of Frankenstein, which was released in the late-’70s and starred Leon Vitale, whose other credits include two Kubrick movies, Barry Lyndon and Eyes Wide Shut. And the Kickstarter page for Director’s Commentary: Terror of Frankenstein states that Vitale is one of the folks featured in Ascher and Kirk’s project. However, that cast list also includes Clu Gulager, an always watchable character actor whose own filmography includes The Last Picture Show and Return of the Living Dead but not The Terror of Frankenstein.
The “About this project” of the Kickstarter page, meanwhile, describes Director’s Commentary: Terror of Frankenstein as “an original commentary track for an existing 1970s-era Frankenstein movie. This project transforms the film into an entirely new, all too human, horror story. It’s less Mystery Science Theater 3000 and more Sartre, an icy satire of the monsters onscreen, behind the camera, and in the audience.” There is also a quote from Ascher in which explains that he is “fascinated by experimenting with format, remixes, and genre-blurring, so I loved the idea of an agonizing horror/drama (with maybe a few laughs) inserted into a commentary track.” Finally, in the video on the Kickstarter page, Vitali himself hints that this new project will detail “the murder and madness after the cameras stopped rolling.”
So, what gives? Well, reading between lines, it seems Ascher and Kirk are creating a fictitious commentary track for a real film with the cooperation of that movie’s actual star—which is a pretty cool idea, if that is indeed the case. Something else we can say with certainty? As soon as we confirm just what the Sam Hill is going on, you will be the first to know.