Le Complexe de Frankenstein


North American Premiere • Documentary • France, 2016

DCP • 1.85 • Dolby 5.1 • Color • 104 min

Directed by: Gilles Penso, Alexandre Poncet

Written by: Gilles Penso, Alexandre Poncet

Cinematography: Gilles Penso, Alexandre Poncet

Film Editing: Gilles Penso

Original Score: Alexandre Poncet

Produced by: Frenetic Arts

Cast: Rick Baker (Himself), Joe Dante (Himself), Guillermo Del Toro (Himself)

International Sales: Le Pacte •


Before CGI, the great movie creatures were designed and built by hand. Over a century of film that craft evolved into an art. From Godzilla to Gollum, this documentary celebrates that evolution, taking a peek behind the curtain at special make-up effects, puppetry, animatronics, and modern digital techniques. Interviews and workshop visits with dozens of monster masters and creature creators like Guillermo Del Toro, Rick Baker, and Lord of the Rings’ Richard Taylor reveal how movie beasts crawl, claw, bite, and growl their way into our collective imagination. And for cinephiles, there’s a banquet of exclusive, never-before-seen footage from monster classics such as Gremlins, The Abyss, and Jurassic Park, the film that ushered in the digital effects era. A rich, entertaining tribute to the movie magicians who, like Dr. Frankenstein himself, know how to toss a few simple materials together, and make it come to life.

Although they initially hail from different disciplines, co-writers/co-directors Gilles Penso and Alexandre Poncet have always shared a mutual love for sci-fi and fantasy films. As a critic and film historian, Penso contributed to filmzines like L’Ecran fantastique before making two documentaries focusing on French comedians. Around the same time, Poncet was writing reviews for the cult French publication Mad Movies. In 2008-09, Poncet was the director/editor/producer of the TV series The Incredible Horror Show. But it was as a film composer and producer that he first came together with Penso.  In 2012, they made Ray Harryhausen - Special Effects Titan, profiling the life and work of the famed stop-motion animator. The film garnered international acclaim, prompting another collaboration in 2013, Derrière le masque des super-héros. The Frankenstein Complex is Pocent’s first feature as a director and Penso’s fifth. They worked on the film for more than two years, crossing the globe to get their interviews, and gain unprecedented access to normally restricted workshops.