The film was released theatrically on August 16, 1985 by Columbia Pictures to generally negative reviews from critics and commercial failure, grossing only $3.6 million.
The film begins with Baron Charles Frankenstein (Sting), his monster (Clancy Brown), Dr. Zalhus (Quentin Crisp), and his assistant Paulus (Timothy Spall) creating a female mate named Eva (Jennifer Beals) for the monster. Eva (named for the first woman) is physically identical to a human and lacks the deformities of the monster. As such, she is revolted by the monster when he comes to claim her, and rejects him. This causes the monster to fly into a rage and destroy Frankenstein's laboratory. Frankenstein, believing himself and Eva to be the only survivors, flees with her back to Castle Frankenstein. He mentions Eva to his friend Clerval, lying that she was a medical case referred to him when she lost her memory after being struck by lightning. He states his intention to make her a perfect human mate, equal to a man. His friend asks if she is beautiful, to which he admits that she is remarkably so. Later, as the Baron remarks on how intact her mind still is, yet she cannot seem to marry her thoughts to her words, Clerval asks if he intends to educate her on romance as well as other subjects. The Baron seems to be disgusted and states that although Eva has the body of a woman, that she has the mind of a child. He says that in time, he is interested in establishing a love that is equal between a man and a woman. Before his friend rides off, Clerval says that he hopes that Eva does not surprise him with her actions.
The monster, having survived, wanders into the countryside where he befriends a dwarf, Rinaldo (David Rappaport), after he stops children from physically abusing him. During their travels to Budapest, Rinaldo cares for the monster, something that the Baron has never done. As they learn more about one another, Rinaldo eventually gives the monster more humanity by gracing him with a name: Viktor ("he will win"). Over the course of their travels, unknown to both Viktor and Eva, the two share a psychic link in which each often feels what the other feels.
Viktor and Rinaldo come across a circus and secure jobs: Viktor drives tent pegs and Rinaldo has a trapeze act that no one in the area has seen before. Eventually it becomes the star attraction with Viktor portraying a concerned mother trying to catch her baby (Rinaldo). The owner is glad to have their act as it brings in many more customers, but it he must pay them more for it. The owner complains to his assistant that anyone can do Rinaldo's act and that it is Viktor who brings the crowd. He also reiterates how much he dislikes Rinaldo. One day as Viktor admires the horses, the assistant puts him on one and causes it to buck wildly, throwing him off. Rinaldo arrives and stops them from teasing him. The assistant pulls a knife, but Viktor jumps in front of his friend to defend him. Shortly after before a performance,the assistant sneaks into their camper and cuts Rinaldo's harness. Viktor catches him and attempts to tell Rinaldo, but he does not listen since they have to do their act. As Rinaldo releases his harness which is supposed to drop but not fall, it actually falls, causing him fatal injuries. Rinaldo tells him to take him outside, where he gives him his Venice charm and encourages him to take their savings to follow his dreams before he dies in his arms. Devastated, Viktor is encouraged to leave his deceased friend. At the same time, in her bed, Eva inexplicably cries. When Viktor returns to their camper, the assistant runs out of it, having ransacked it while looking for their stash of money. He retrieves the money before preparing to leave. While exiting, he overhears the owner and his assistant arguing over Rinaldo's death (the owner said he wanted him out of the way, but not for him to kill him). Viktor pushes over their camper, the assistant crawls out and pulls his knife. In self-defense, Viktor throws him and he is impaled when he lands. The circus owner gets the group to turn on him and calls him the murderer, causing him to flee.
Over time Eva develops a respect for her teacher and the kindness he has inexplicably shown her. However, the more she learns, the more independent she becomes. She also questions where she is truly from at her debut, where she becomes the belle of the ball, sitting at the right of a countess. Across the room, an attraction sparks between Eva and Captain Josef Schoden (Cary Elwes), who comes to introduce himself. Once she has enchanted the room, a kitten runs to her feet and, viscerally, she begins to scream at it. As the Baron derides her for her behavior, she reminds him that all she knows she learned from books and she mistook the kitten for a tiny lion. He becomes more obsessive about Eva, even watching her in her sleep which leaves her very unsettled. Josef and Eva meet by accident while riding horses and when he kisses her hand, she is confused by the feelings this arouses in her. They then spend an afternoon together.
Viktor returns after Rinaldo's death and the two encounter one another when Eva finds him sleeping during a horse ride. After s short conversation, Eva gives him some money, which he refuses at first. He then accepts it and as their hands touch, Eva again feels something foreign to her. Before she leaves, he gives her Rinaldo's charm. Although Eva is curiously drawn to him, Viktor does not answer her when she asks if they know one another.
The Baron becomes extremely possessive of Eva as she grows more independent. After their encounter, Viktor sees a peddler and decides to buy Eva jewelry to win her affection as he saw a wealthy man do when he and Rinaldo arrived in Budpest. After choosing a cut glass necklace, the peddler takes all of his money. But as Viktor leaves, his conscience gets the best of him and he returns most of it. Viktor returns to the castle and climbs to Eva's room to present her with his gift. When he looks in the window, he sees the real jewels the Baron has given her and throws the necklace in the river in disgust. That night, the Baron hosts a masquerade and grandly presents Eva with an extravagant snow ball followed by a glitter shower. Eva and the young Captain find one another again and they go to a quiet place together. The Baron finds them closer than he'd like (only holding hands and exchanging a short kiss) and is shown silently enraged with jealousy in the shadows. His friend Clerval is intrigued by Eva after she asserts herself in front of him, having only heard of her from his friend shortly after her arrival (birth).
Viktor, meanwhile, is captured by the circus group who want retribution. The owner then beats him while he is chained to a wall in a cellar. The Baron's obsession escalates as he discovers the Captain has sent his carriage for Eva. The Baron confronts them, but much to Eva's shock the Captain claims she means nothing to him and that she threw herself at him. Back at the castle, the Baron demands that she obey him since she belongs to him. Eva retorts that she is her own woman and not his possession, like he taught her. Out of anger and too much alcohol, the Baron reveals Eva's true origins. At first she does not believe him, but cannot deny the similarities between herself and the notes in his journals. During her moment of horror at the truth of the body she is contained in, Viktor feels her pain.
When Eva asks about the mate he created before her, the Baron tells her he believes that the monster is dead. She is sad that there is no one else in the world like her. The Baron states that he is glad the monster is dead because giving her to him would have been a waste. After slapping him, Eva then informs him that no matter what his role in creating her body and mind he had, that he can never possess her. She then runs to her room and locks the door. Viktor senses Eva's distress and breaks free of his imprisonment and steals a horse to get back to the castle to save her. The Baron arrives at her room to find it locked and then leaves to get the keys. Once her door is open, Eva attacks him with a stick pin. Just as the Baron is ready to rape her, Viktor breaks in and Eva faints. Remembering that his creation is scared of fire, he sets his clothes aflame, but Viktor soon puts the flames out. The Baron chases Viktor to the place of his birth and they fight all over the burned out tower. As he swings the fire around, the Baron misses Viktor and falls to his death.
The monster returns to Eva and when she awakens, he turns to leave. Eva asks him to stay and he introduces himself to her with his name Viktor. She tells him the meaning of his name, which pleases him. She asks if he knows who made him and he reveals that it was the Baron. Reunited, they head off to Venice to fulfill Rinaldo's dream.Sting as Baron Charles Frankenstein
Jennifer Beals as Eva
Clancy Brown as Viktor, the Monster
Geraldine Page as Mrs. Baumann
David Rappaport as Rinaldo the Dwarf
Anthony Higgins as Clerval
Alexei Sayle as Magar
Veruschka von Lehndorff as Countess
Quentin Crisp as Dr. Zalhus
Cary Elwes as Captain Josef Schoden
Phil Daniels as Bela
Timothy Spall as Paulus
Ken Campbell as Pedlar
Guy Rolfe as Count
Tony Haygarth as Tavern Keeper
The film earned negative reviews from critics and holds a 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Jennifer Beals' performance in the film earned her a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actress.
Columbia Pictures released the film theatrically on August 16, 1985 and it grossed $3,558,669 at the domestic box office.
The film was released on DVD by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2001.