If you grew up in the ‘80s and were even slightly goth, you knew a few things: The Cure helped get you through the most trying times of teenage hell, the best store at the mall was undoubtedly Contempo Casuals (where I purchased the majority of my own clothing), and no amount of heat styling or hairspray was ever too much – more is more, as it were. 

Apparently Diablo Cody and I had a similar upbringing, because Lisa Frankenstein made me feel more seen than I have felt in years. From the pitch-perfect 1989 music and clothing to the dreamy romantic longings of being a teenage girl, this film really gets it. 

Lisa Frankenstein is what happens when you put Frankenstein and Pretty in Pink in a blender.

Kathryn Newton in Lisa Frankenstein 2024

Two teens from different walks of life (or death, ahem) coming together to find in each other what they never could in anyone else – love! 

The story focuses on emo teen queen Lisa (played to perfection by Kathryn Newton, who I loved as Claire in Supernatural and Millie in Freaky) a young woman totally out of her element. She lost her mom in a horrifically traumatizing way, then had to switch schools once her widowed father found a new wife – and as an added bonus, she also got a new stepsister, who couldn’t be more different than she is. 

Liza Soberano Lisa Frankenstein cast

Taffy (absolutely adorable Liza Soberano) is a perky pageant girl/cheerleader type, bubbly and a total mama’s girl, while Lisa lurks in cemeteries dreaming of a long-dead boy who looks pretty foxy based on his tombstone. These two are not the same. However, Taffy seems shallow but she’s a pretty sweet girl, so Lisa tries to give her the benefit of the doubt. 

Taffy’s mom and Lisa’s new stepmom, however… Well, there’s no hope there.

Carla Gugino Lisa Frankenstein evil stepmom

I was thrilled to see one of my absolute favorite actresses, Carla Gugino, slay the character of the aerobicized, super snotty and just horribly judgmental Janet, who is a total nightmare for Lisa to deal with. 

The plot thickens when a freak rainstorm blows out some power lines…

…and voila — the corpse of the boy Lisa has been longing for suddenly appears at her doorstep!

Cole Sprouse Lisa Frankenstein Kathryn Newton

Cole Sprouse, who I have watched grow up with my daughter (we have seen every episode of Suite Life of Zack and Cody – multiple times) is absolutely refreshing and cute as The Creature. He may grunt instead of speak and look like an extra from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video, but once Lisa gets over her initial shock, it’s time to help him get his bearings in the modern world

I won’t say too much more about the story but I will say there are scenes in this film that made me howl out loud with laughter, the music is absolute perfection, and the ‘80s setting makes it simply irresistible.

Lisa Frankenstein teen horror romantic comedy

Lisa Frankenstein is light on horror/scares, which is what I expected with a PG-13 rating, but that was just fine with me. I’d call it a spooky rom-com, which, honestly, is exactly what we need sometimes, and there definitely aren’t enough of! 

The story ratchets up the body count when Lisa wants to help replace The Creature’s rotten or missing body parts, and a twist in the middle pivots to what I think is one of the best scenes of the film. I don’t want to give away any surprises, but the method used to ‘reanimate’ The Creature is so funny and very of the era; a modern twist on the age-old nuts-and-bolts and electrical shocks of old-school Frankenstein. 

Lisa Frankenstein is clever and cute, an easy watch, and has a banging soundtrack!

Stellar performances and interesting, entertaining characters, funny one-liners, and cool clothes, settings, and colors make Lisa Frankenstein absolute eye candy

I remember the ‘80s pretty well. I was about 14 years old in the year this film is set, and seeing some of my own makeup, hairstyles, and clothing options come to life on the screen sent me on a nostalgia trip that I wasn’t mad about. The best parts of the ‘80s are seen in this film, and the fact that those are coupled with a sweet and spooky story make it all the better!

If you’re in the mood for a cute teen scream that isn’t gore-heavy or you just love the ‘80s as much as I do, you’ll appreciate what Diablo Cody has done here. As a fan of her other films, specifically the once-panned-but-now-finally-appreciated Jennifer’s Body, I feel like her humor may not be received by everyone, but if you’re one who ‘gets’ Cody’s tone, you’ll find something to love in this bubblegum and body parts love story! 

I wasn’t sure where the ending was going, and though I am not sure if I would have ended it the same if I had been in charge, it seems to work for what Cody is doing here, so I’m okay with it. I’m not sure how I would have ended it to be honest, I just wasn’t super happy about where the end went, but overall, it doesn’t impact how I feel about the film in general

I still think it’s a much-needed change of pace in the horror genre, and I believe it will be one of those movies you’ll want to revisit again. 

Wanna time travel back to the decade of excess? All you need are a few lightning bolts, a handsome dead Victorian guy, and some REO Speedwagon!


Images purchased via MovieStillsDB and CineMaterial for review purposes.

About the Author

Christi Bandy has been writing and editing professionally since 2010. Her first horror movie, A Nightmare on Elm Street, began her lifelong love of horror. Christi also loves coffee, shopping, reading, tattoos, and Halloween.

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