HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Monster High: Freaky Fusion
HTS Overall Score:70
I went into viewing Monster High: Freaky Fusion with great trepidation. Much of the recent youth/teen-targeted animated shows and movies I find vapid, cheesy, and overly dramatic. I fully expected to claw my eyes out by the halfway point, if that.
However, by the time I got to the halfway point, not only were my eyes fully intact, but my ears were in a state of shock – was I really hearing this? Were these lines and this plot actually DECENT? It appeared so. Sure, there were rough spots, silliness, horrible puns, and a bit of bludgeoning over the head with their “we’re all a family” message, but it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. I’d heard of Monster High in a sort of round-about didn’t-know-it-was-called-Monster-High way. I was aware of something entertainment related about a bunch of twig-skinny girls descended from famous monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula, Medusa, et cetera, but also teens descended from monster “races:” werewolves, vampires, Egyptian mummified pharaohs, ghouls, zombies, and even generic things like skeletons, moths, unicorns, ghosts, mermaids, dragons, tigers, and so on.
The Monster High franchise apparently started much like the original My Little Ponies did – as a toy collection. However, the line is not limited to just dolls. Among the many consumer products are fashion accessories, video games, TV specials, direct to DVD movies, books, and a web series. The franchise is distinctive from other fashion dolls due to its unabashed and flagrant use of horror puns, like calling girls “gouls” or heritage “scaritage.” They do it in the dialogue, too. During a conversation with their drama teacher (the Invisible Man), he mentions how the students will be “howling” for this play he’s written. They even go so far as to do it with the names: Frankie Stein, Clawdeen (a werewolf, “claw”-deen; get it?), Ghoulia Yelps (a sentence of its own), Draculaura, Cleo de Nile (descended from Egyptian Pharoahs), Abbie Bominable (granddaughter of the original Abominable Snowman), Spectra Vondergeist, Lagoona Blue, Toralei Stripe (“tora” is tiger in Japanese), and Jinafire Long (Chinese dragon; she can breathe fire, which I think is awesome).
Monster High: Freaky Fusion revolves around Frankie Stein and her “scaritage project” assigned by one of their teachers in honor of the Bitecentennial (bi-centennial, or two hundred year) celebration of Monster High’s founding. While her classmates have amazing family histories, Frankie knows nothing about hers, and her parents refuse to speak of her most famous ancestor, Victor Frankenstein. The teacher is much displeased, and demands she do the project over. Eager to help, one of her many friends, Robecca Steam (a steampunk android) offers the use of her father’s hidden laboratory to find out what they can about Victor Frankenstein. Apparently, Hexeciah Steam was a teacher at Monster High when it was first founded in 1814, so the girls conclude he might have some kind of journal or records about Frankie’s grandfather. Once in the laboratory, Toralei, in true cat fashion, gets overly-curious and throws a lever that triggers a time machine. All ten girls get thrown back in time, where Frankie and Ghoulia sit in on one of Hexaciah Steam’s classes and witness the failed experiments of a teenage mad scientist named Sparky. Frankie feels a kinship with Sparky, as he’s trying to master the secret to bringing things to life, and she herself was assembled with spare body parts and somehow animated as a truly alive being, no just some puppet. Sparky, discovering what she is, demands she tell him how to create life, but she refuses. When the ten girls try to go back to their own time, Sparky catches up to them and causes an accident that damages the time machine – instead of ten girls returning to 2014, only six do: Frankie, Ghoulia, and four freaky fusions of the other eight girls. Each of the four Fusions has two girls in one body, and their powers go haywire. While Ghoulia attempts to fix the machine (she’s the brains of the group, apparently, which I find ironic), Frankie enlists the help of the new Hybrid students (kids with two monster scaritages instead of just one, e.g. a zombie unicorn, or a mermaid ghost) to help her friends coordinate their talents so they can all find a way to stop a strange creature endangering students and get their own bodies back before Frankie loses her life spark. SPOILER: I’ll warn you now, the end is very Care Bear: Next Generation movie-esque. It seems that no one person can save Frankie; it takes the combined good thoughts and cell phones of the entire school population. Apparently. It’s all horribly cheesy, probably the cheesiest moment in the entire movie.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=28865[/img]"Monster High: Freak Fusion" is released on Blu-ray with a decent1.78:1 encoded image. The main showcase feature of the set being COLOR COLOR COLOR! If anything you can't knock the show for being lackluster in the color department as the image is saturated with blues, purples, green, reds and all shades in between for the entire run time. Detail is a bit spotty as the show tends to be a bit soft and a little bit hazy every once in a while as the Direct to Video budget shows its constraints. Still there is plenty of niceties to the picture as well, as there seems to be very good display of lines, no jaggies, and no issues of color banding that I could detect.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=28873[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track for "Freaky Fusion" is......there. The track isn't going to be a wild monster track, and is less a 5.1 track as much as it is a 3.1 one track, since the surrounds are almost non existent. Sure, there are a few instances where you hear them light up with some ambient noises, but it's not very often. the dialogue is clean and clear, which is really the main thing they focused on in the very front heavy encoding and the dynamic range is pleasant, if not a bit cramped. LFE is present with a few minor bumps and whomps, but isn't exactly impressive. It's not bad for a DTV kids show, so I really can't complain too much, since the kiddies aren't going to be asking "dad, why is there no sub 20hz output on this one?".
• Boys Fright Out
• Inner Monster 1.0
• Inner Monster 2.0
Monster High: Freaky Fusion certainly wasn’t the train wreck I expected, but it wasn’t Disney quality either. It deals with themes like acceptance, flaws, family, and what constitutes “being alive.” Frankie is plagued by the unanswered question, “Am I truly alive,” which does get answered, but in a highly unsatisfactory way. It’s like the writers were loath to use the word “soul,” lest they incur the wrath of the philosophical, religious, atheist, and science fiction communities combined. However, it wasn’t a total loss, and I’m sure if you’ve got Monster High fans in the house, they’ll want this latest installment.
Starring: Laura Bailey, Cameron Clarke, Erin Fitzgerald
Directed by: William Lau, Sylvian Blais
Written by: Keith Wagner
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DD 2.0, French, Spanish DTS 5.1
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 78 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 30th 2014
Buy Monster High: Freaky Fusion Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: For the Kids
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