Hello and Hallo-welcome to another addition to Frankenstein Friday, where we look at films that riff-off our favourite mad scientist and his creation. You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, who would like to remind you to treat your evil henchman with care–without them, we’d have to pull those levers ourselves!
Today’s film offering: Igor
Lilly: In a sea of Scooby Doo feature length films and nostalgic Disney horror films like Hocus Pocus, Sparx Animation Studios (the people who brought you Rolie Polie Olie) came up with the oddly endearing Igor, a tale set in the kingdom of Malaria, a world where evil is a necessity to live.
We meet Igor (voiced by John Cusack), though that isn’t his real name–everyone with a hunchback is made to go to Igor school in Malaria, and they come out with a ‘Yes Masters’ (aaha) and a speciality in being a minion to the many evil scientists that live in the kingdom. Every year, there is an evil science fair to aim towards, where all the scientists attempt to make the scariest, most evil creation to then blackmail the world with–how else is a kingdom supposed to make money when there are so many clouds preventing them from growing a good crop?
Andy: And of course, every evil scientist requires an assistant – one with a hunchback, a lisp and no original ideas of their own. An Igor, in other words.
Igor, originally Frankenstein’s lab assistant (even though he’s nowhere to be found in the Mary Shelley novel, and in the 1931 Universal picture is called Fritz and isn’t a hunchback) is, in this world, more of a job title – somewhere between a slave, a dogsbody and someone to make the evil scientist feel smart and superior.
Unfortunately, one particular Igor, named…Igor is almost definitely smarter than his master – one Dr, Glickenstein, a scientist high in ambition, but low in the not-getting-himself-blown-up department. But such unfortunate accidents can help a young Igor on the make, who then sets out to challenge his society’s expectations of him by entering the Evil Science Fair himself!
Lilly: His project? Creating life. Dun dun dunnnnn.
Igor is one of those films that you easily could have missed in theatres, and we wouldn’t be surprised. In fact, it was only me who had seen it prior to this year’s Hallowfest draft. From my experience talking about this film, actually, I might have been the only person who saw it, because it is one I get a lot of ‘nope’s about when it comes to asking if people have heard of it, let alone seen it. Maybe I’m not asking the right people–cool people, like me.
Anyway, starting with the plot, Igor is actually a pretty fun little film to put on. It’s an intriguing premise, a kingdom becoming evil to pay the bills, and a reverse of the source material of the man-making-a-monster, where the monster was supposed to be evil, but instead is…well. Eva.
Andy: This is one of the most fun subversions – most attempts to make Frankenstein Monsters Go Horribly Wrong, but this one does because it’s supposed to and it doesn’t. A manic pixie dreamgirl who weighs three quarters of a ton and wants to be Meryl Streep is definitely one of the weirdest ones we’ve seen.
Lilly: It’s weird as an adult, looking at the world created in Igor, of course. For instance, the idea that Igors are ‘recycled’ when they are either no longer wanted or needed is one that gives you a little shiver, especially when you see things like Scamper using the face of a recycled Igor as a bottle opener. Eep.
Andy: Yeah, in its search for laughs for the young ‘uns, it accidentally creates a universe full of fairly horrific implications for adults. This is a society that not only judges people by their appearance – it also apparently uses a crude form of eugenics on them as well. Hotel Transylvania neatly sidestepped the issue of the monsters’, er, hobbies, by making them all terrified of humans. This, on the other hand, tries to embrace it in a family-friendly way and doesn’t quite succeed.
That said, it is certainly a unique setting, and one that has a lot of fun with its concept. For movie buffs there’s some fun nods at The Fly, A Clockwork Orange and even Annie.
Lilly: It really is unique, even with some things that seem a bit familiar–idiot sidekicks are in a lot of films, and there’s a king that looks suspiciously like a certain mayor of a certain holiday town–and the characters are all fun and well-thought-out, which I can get behind.
Andy: There’s one or two criticisms that could be levelled at it. The animation is, to put it frankly, not very good. It’s sort of on a level with Shark Tale, but what was passable in 2004 doesn’t quite cut it in 2008, and with amazing stuff like The Book of Life out certainly doesn’t in 2015.
Then again, it has Eddie Izzard as an arrogant, mad scientist. Wouldn’t you like to see that?
Lilly: Dr. Schadenfreude (seriously, that’s his name) is probably one of my favourite cartoon villains. With lines like “No more Doctor Don’t-Kill-Anybody” and responding to his Igor saying “But there’s more–” with “No, there isn’t, because your voice is annoying”, he is just ridiculously fun. Then there are his outfits! His glasses! His attitude! I just. Love him.
Andy: But yeah, the film itself? I dunno. If you want to see something weird and unique, then yes. But there are definitely better family-halloween animated movies out there.
Lilly: I think this is a great film for the parents who don’t want to watch Frozen on Halloween, or those horror fans who have a kid and still want something creepy to enjoy with them–it’s not as watered down as a lot of ‘family fun’ pieces, and I like that. It’s not quite on the same level as Paranorman (though they are both of that creepier-than-you’d-think ilk) or Frankenweenie, but it is a fun alternative, and one I’d definitely put on my shelf next to Hotel Transylvania.