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Big Monster on Campus (2000)

aka: Boltneck

A mild teenage horror comedy in the genial spirit of Frankenstein: The College Years, though Danny Elfman-style music, El Nino lightning strikes over Los Angeles and the presence of Shelley Duvall (even a dialogue reference to Frankenweenie, in which she starred) suggests an aspiration to Tim Burtonhood which Boltneck is frankly unable to sustain. When annoying jocks (Justin Walker, Christian Payne) accidentally kill gangling Karl (Ryan Reynolds), a kid who is trying to crash a cool party, teenage genius Frank Stein (Matthew Lawrence) uses his science project to bring the corpse back to life, substituting criminal grey matter borrowed from his father's laboratory for Karl's damaged brain. The resurrected Karl becomes a cool mentor to the stereotyped meek nerd Frank, helping him make time with a teen princess (Christine Lakin) but also seems to run amok, stealing funds from the school for a party and perhaps attacking a co-ed. In an upbeat finish, it turns out that Karl hasn't been that awful, but still gets his original brain back for a normative wind-up.

Reynolds (later of Blade Trinity and the Amityville remake) is okay as the mild monster, hiding scars under a hat, but Lawrence is an unimpressive lead, and there's not much else going on. The end credits song samples the theme from Mad Monster Party?. With bits from Judge Reinhold, Charles Fleischer (the voice of Roger Rabbit), Richard Moll (who played the Monster in the Weird Science TV episode Searching for Boris Karloff), Bianca Lawson (did you know that Kendra the Vampire Slayer from Buffy was the daughter of Richard Lawson from Scream Blacula Scream?) and Richard Speight Jr (Adrift). Directed by Mitch Marcus (The Haunting of Hell House); scripted by Dave Payne (later writer-director of Reeker).
KIM NEWMAN

First published in this form here.


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