Flesh for Frankenstein
We dare you to see...
Year of Release: 1973
Also Known As: Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, Andy Warhol's Young Frankenstein, Frankenstein, The Devil and Dr. Frankenstein, Up Frankenstein
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 95 minutes (1:35)
Director: Paul Morrissey, Antonio Margheriti
Joe Dallesandro ... Nicholas
Monique van Vooren ... Baroness Katrin Frankenstein
Udo Kier ... Baron Frankenstein
Arno Juerging ... Otto
Dalila Di Lazzaro ... Female Monster
Srdjan Zelenovic ... Sacha / Male Monster
Nicoletta Elmi ... Monica, the Baron's daughter
Marco Liofredi ... Erik, the Baron's son
Liu Bosisio ... Olga, the maid
Swooping bats, severed limbs, gobs of livid human entrails, a hideously efficient decapitating gadget, some well turned breasts and buttocks, plus assorted spare parts are among the treats that slither off the screen.
Flesh for Frankenstein, remindin' us that when you've got a 50' long dinin' room table, it's damn near impossible to get somebody to pass you the potatoes. What's the deal with those things anyway? That musta been how guys compensated for their shortcomins in the days before jacked up 4x4 pickups with tires wider'n the canned food aisle at the Winn Dixie. An speakin' of people who try too hard, Billy Hilliard, Sadie Bonebreak, B.J. Wilder an I all went up to The Gutter Bowl like everybody else to wait for Fannie Ogglesby to get completely smashed an dance nekkid on toppa the air hockey table in the arcade for New Years Eve. It's sort of a tradition around these parts, but really, half the reason I go is to watch Otis Turlinger freak out about the place not havin' a license to exhibit that type of entertainment, while frantically tryin' to pry all the kids playin' Yars' Revenge offa the machine before they see somethin' that's gonna turn 'em into men an reduce the alley's monthly quarter intake. Richard Fawner was up there too, even though the idea of seein' Fannie's namesake causes 'im to use words like "strumpet" an "repugnant." Mostly he just hangs out at the bar an tries pickin' up guys who're too drunk to realize he's actually a guy wearin' an Edy Williams wig with a coupla soft serve cones stuffed into his shirt. The only reason I'm even bringin' Richard up is cause he pretty well spoiled our New Years Eve party after failin' to locate any patrons drunk enough to constrict his boa. Things kinda went to heck right about the time Fannie started doin' the nekkid splits on toppa the Donkey Kong machine, leavin' Richard tryin' to figure out where the beef went like Clara Peller, an gettin' 'im so jealous that he downed about seven pink swirls an started ridin' the floor buffer up an down the alley like an armchair cowboy on a mechanical bull.
I was actually kinda impressed, cause small as he is, I'da never figured it'd take Otis Turlinger an two pin monkeys to get 'im offa there, but I guess that when you're the kinda guy whose perfect date involves a guy named "Stitch" an a box fulla vacuum cleaner attachments, you tend to develop a pretty strong grip. Needless to stay, all the subsequent screamin' he was doin' that seemed to be ripped straight from the chorus of Queen's "Somebody to Love" got Fannie so depressed that she put 'er blouse back on, an by the time the staff'd called up Richard's mother to come pick 'im up we had way too many P.O.'d patrons fulla bowlin' alley enchiladas in one place. That's pretty much when things turned ugly, an that's also the moment Billy an Sadie hadda beat their way through the sea of gastronomically engorged gut buckets to rescue Fannie, while B.J. an I ran out front to get the Topaz back to the side entrance before anybody got chili-dogged to death. Fannie was a little shook up but she's alright now, although the same can't be said for the left rear passenger door on the Topaz. I dunno what The Gutter Bowl puts in those nachos, but while Fannie was hangin' 'er head out the window repentin' for 'er culinary sins, all that barf stripped the paint right off an left this big chrome spot that looks like a comet flyin' through space. It's actually kinda sharp, I may just leave it that way, makes you feel like you're goin' real fast.
As for this week's flick, we've got one of the Andy Warhol movies from after he'd pretty much stopped makin' 'em an handed the reins over to his protege, Paul Morrissey. Which is just as well, cause Warhol was one of those eccentric artsy fartsy kinda guys who'd film somebody sleepin' an droolin' all over their pillow for six hours an play it so straight that all the suckers watchin' would marvel at it an become inspired to ponder deeply the mysteries of life, or somethin', I never really have understood people who're into art films. If you were to ask me, I'd tell ya that anybody who finds some deeper meanin' in footage of a guy eatin' a mushroom has more imagination than P.T. Barnum. Then again, Warhol was a millionaire who now has an entire museum dedicated to 'im, an I'm a country bumpkin who spends several hours a week discussin' whether a severed body part looks authentic or not, so maybe I should just stick my area of expertise. Still, for 1973, this flick's got more human bodily fluid per square inch than Ron Jeremy's sofa cushions, which is why I've chosen it as the third flick in my salute to the movies that changed the history of the genre, an were deemed heinous enough to be inadvertently immortalized in the form of the Video Nasties list. Whatever you may think of Warhol, I did take the time to pick out a few of the nastier things this one has to teach us, just in case any of the homophobes out there're thinkin' a gay guy can't possibly have what it takes to inspire a gore flick, an here they are. First, if you wake up next to the decapitated corpse of your best friend, there's a pretty good chance that you may've partied a little too hardy. Second, invitin' your zombie creations to dinner when there's no brain an kidney pie on the menu is considered bad manners. An third, removin' the surgical tape from people's groins too fast tends to kill the mood.
But I do have one observation that I'd like to make about these kinda flicks that take place way back in the dark ages when the theory of relativity had more to do with incest than physics, an that's the fact that nobody who makes 'em ever seems to touch on the inevitable divorce hearins that follow. Hear me out on this. See, I picture the sister approachin' the bench an sayin' somethin' like; "your honor, I'm here today seekin' a separation from my brother on the grounds that my needs are not bein' satisfied, an because the tickin' of my biological clock is gettin' so loud that the neighbors up the road've started lodgin' complaints with the police department." So the judge turns to the brother an asks if what the sister's sayin' is true, to which he responds; "yes your honor, but I've neglected my husbandly duties entirely out of concern for my dear sister, who seems to have forgotten that she was nearly split from rear to ear in childbirth when the last kid was born with a third leg that got hung up on 'er cervix an refused to budge." Then the brother'd prolly go on the offensive an say somethin' like; "an furthermore, I intend to prove that in the 3rd grade this treacherous trollup ran over my pet bullfrog with 'er big wheel an never once stayed on her side of the car durin' family vacations." This'd definitely be the most entertainin' part of the trial, cause they'd both be dredgin' up every childhood infraction the other'd committed from stealin' somebody's seat after they called "spot back" to tearin' the head offa someone's Betsy Wetsy doll, til the daughter ends up gettin' so P.O.'d that she decides to call Aunt Ester into the courtroom as a surprise witness to testify that the brother came onto 'er at the family reunion in 1976 durin' the siblings' trial separation. Course now the brother's objectin' so loudly about not gettin' adequate time to prepare a cross-examination for this new witness that the guy tallyin' the ballots next door for the city ordinance on whether or not to ban demeanin' dog sweaters keeps losin' count. So once he's able to regain his cool he'd prolly remind the judge that he wasn't there to see just how suggestively Aunt Ester was leanin' over that punch bowl in this spaghetti strap shirt that was *at least* three sizes too small, an plead temporary eroticism. Course by then the place's in such an uproar that the judge hasta call a recess to throw back about five scotches an try scrubbin' the uncleanliness off his body with a wire brush, before returnin' from his chamber an renderin' a verdict grantin' the divorce, but also remandin' custody of their three octopus children to the state for proper care an scientific study. Which is really the only sensible rulin' he can hand down in a case like this, but it still causes both siblins to become so wracked with grief at the loss of their invertebrate offspring that they end up seekin' each other's comfort, an before you know it the whole thing begins anew. Only this time they ain't married, causin' a complete fracturin' of the family an bringin' shame to the entire population of nothern Slatchdiddle County. An that's the kinda black eye a city never truly recovers from, so let's all make good'n certain that we understand the ramifications of choosin' to go down the hall, instead of makin' that trek to the mall, okay?
The movie begins with these two kids screwin' around in a laboratory doin' typical healthy kid stuff like slicin' up a kewpie doll an enactin' a little Louis XVI style justice on it, til their Mom (Katrin) picks 'em up from school in one of those carriages that ride around Central Park bilkin' rubes outta c-notes. Meanwhile, Frankenstein (Udo Kier) is givin' Merry Brandybuck (Otto) the Frankensteinian stare of doom an bawlin' 'im out for forgettin' to put the leftover guts in a Ziploc baggie an makin' the place smell like Ed Gein's refrigerator. Then Kat an the kids make it home an she tries tellin' Udo about what a positively dreadful afternoon she's had after havin' to drive past some proles makin' the sign of the mange-faced bilge possum, only Udo don't really give a rip, so she heads inside the castle to remind the sofa how fortunate it is to have a hinder of such exquisite grandeur grace it with its shapeliness. Elsewhere, Udo an Merry're haulin' some dead chick out of his formaldehyde fish tank before she gets too bloated an cranky, an once that's been taken care of, Udo heads upstairs for dinner an hasta listen to Kat gripe about how she wants to home school the children cause the local Head Start's threatenin' to start integratin' the Zoroastrian kids from the wrong side of the cow path. Elsewhere, a coupla wage slaves (Nicholas an Sacha) who work for Udo're diggin' precautionary foxholes in anticipation of the Germans bein' bamboozled by another fast-talkin' schmoozer while they enjoy a spirited debate about the merits of joinin' a monastery versus livin' a life of skank fueled debauchery at the local whorehouse. Unfortunately, while Nick's makin' a Bavarian creampie with this floozy, Kat catches 'im sleepin' around on the job an tells 'im to gets his butt to the castle tomorrow mornin' for his employee evaluation. Back at the castle, Udo an Merry're stitchin' together some loose ends, when Udo explains to Merry that what he really needs to get his build a herr project off the ground is the head of Don Juan so he can attach it to his prize torso an get it to make zombabies with his patchwork lady ghoul. But while that's goin' on, Nick an Sacha're headed down to the whorehouse to try out some conversion therapy on Sacha so he'll quit bein' such a prude an start sluttin' around like all the normal Catholics. Cept all Sacha wants to do is watch Nick give these two French tramps the ole Eiffel Tower, which could be because he's secretly gay, or because he kinda looks like Ivan Drago an doesn't wanna accidentally break anybody, we may never know.
But then this skink starts crawlin' on the skanks an they hafta run outside into the cold an get frostbite on their jigglers til Sacha tells 'em to get their lumpy butts back inside before they turn the whole neighborhood gay an cause beret futures to skyrocket outta control. But in the meantime, Udo an Merry've wandered down to the poon district to scout for manwhore prospects, an when they see Sacha tryin' to coax the two broads back inside they get the idea that the bimbos must be afraid of his massive Serbian schlonker an decide he's the one that they want an start actin' all giddy like Olivia Newton John. So Udo an Merry stand around playin' tiddlywinks til Nick an Sacha leave the whorehouse, an once they stumble outta there Udo tells Merry to Rodney King Nick while he whips out this set of gnarly Brutus Beefcake brand hedge clippers an chops off Sacha's head. The next mornin', Nick wakes up next to Sacha's headless corpse an hasta make the difficult grown up decision to swear off the Everclear on work nights. This really ain't the ideal start to Nick's day since he's still gotta report to the Queen of Mean for his performance review at the castle, so as soon as he walks in an realizes he's about to get dumped like the leftover serf an turf special he is, he tells Kat that he's puttin' in his notice cause nobody bothered to tell 'im what a bad neighborhood this castle's in. Cept Kat ain't havin' that, an she informs Nick that the only thing he's gonna be puttin' in is his dudongo, cause she an Udo can't ever get intimate without gettin' into a fight about who left the lid off the Play-Doh back in kindergarten. Meanwhile, in the lab, Udo's fishin' around inside his lady zombie tryin' to find his class ring, cept he gets a little too excited about it an starts mixin' business with pleasure an... well, if this were biblical times, Udo'd owe the zombie's Dad some shekels about now. But anyway, then Udo an Merry screw Sacha's head onto their second zombie, hook up jumper cables to both corpses, flip the switch that activates their Rubik's cube control panel, an make the entire lab smell like bacon while simultaneously fillin' the air with the sounds of Jiffy Pop. Udo's psyched, so he invites his friends to the dinner table so everybody'll be too grossed out to eat an he can hog all the German chocolate cake to 'imself, only Nick's OCD gets completely outta control as he finds 'imself unable to cope with Sacha's head bein' on a mismatched body.
So when Nick heads down to Kat's room for his next scheduled poundin' of the royal ass, he inquires about what Udo does for a livin' an asks to have a look around the lab. Nick gets a little distracted when Kat starts fillin' up his test tube steak with vital fluids, but he politely requests permission to discuss the situation a little later once Kat finishes makin' these nasty suction noises all over 'im that sound like clam chowder night at the homeless shelter. Elsewhere, Merry's down in the lab gettin' a little too friendly with the help, an discovers somethin' is amiss when he tears the blouse off the maid an all 'er guts come spillin' out like beer bellies at the Golden Corral buffet line. Fortunately, Udo's too preoccupied with tryin' to get Sacha to slip the she-corpse the ole zomboni, only Sacha's got the sex drive of a narcoleptic tree sloth an a bad case of limber tail in the pantaloon region. Udo's P.O.'d, an as if that ain't bad enough, his treacherous kids've shown Nick the secret false wall in the styrofoam cinder blocks of the lab, an when he figures out what's goin' on he hasta go upstairs an slap the crap outta Kat for failin' to mention some of the more critical occupational hazards of workin' there. Then he sneaks back down to the lab to rescue Sacha, only Sacha's too ashamed to leave cause he's got more zipper scars than the cast of Mountain Monsters, an when Udo finds 'im readin' Sacha the emancipation proclamation he instructs Sacha to uncork the Monster Mash all over Nick's face. Now Udo's got 'imself a laid-pipe cinch, cause anybody disgustin' enough to pump his sister's rump'll definitely have a spear that's willin' even if the flesh is reek. So havin' solved that dilemma, Udo's feelin' pretty good about how things're goin' an tells Kat she can take Sacha upstairs to try workin' the kinks out of his hose, only when she does, he accidentally squeezes 'er a little too tight an crushes all 'er ribs like a bag of potato chips under a sofa cushion. But back in the lab we've got dissension among the rank, cause Merry's whinin' about bein' passed over time an again for a conjugal visit with the zombarbie doll, an when Udo's not lookin' he goes for 'er groceries an accidentally spills the entire meat counter onto the floor. Somehow I get the feelin' Udo ain't gonna like this one bit, but I'm gonna cut off the review here so as to not spoil the endin'.
Alrighty, well, how's that for increasin' the vomit meter rating on the tired old Frankenstein legend? Normally I don't have much of an affinity for these flicks that utilize themes from the old Universal classics, but I really liked the screwed up premise of this one, and especially the black comedy. This one's got some of the best black humor I've seen since Motel Hell, with just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek dialog for a movie that's being played straight. It's even got a long winded epilogue given by the mortally wounded villain during the climax just like Motel Hell has, but this one's even funnier. Of course, the BBFC didn't see the humor when they banned it and added it to the infamous Video Nasties list; although to be fair, if you're a proponent of the ignorant masses being likely to to mimic what they see on a television screen, one can at least see why they chose to ban this one. To me, it's plain to see that many of the titles that got banned due to their alleged contribution to the moral decay of society were only even discovered because their titles tended to give away the content. This is especially apparent if you look at how tame some of the titles that "made the grade" actually are. Flesh for Frankenstein, however, must have been pretty gruesome/perverse for the audiences of 1973, between what would have been some of the most explicit gore put to film up to that time, the necrophilia, and the abundance of nudity. It's also got full frontal male nudity which was a big no-no for either gender in those days, as well as some hysterical foul language thrown in for good measure. My favorite line in the movie is prolly Udo Kier explaining to Arno Juerging that "to know death, Otto, you have to fuck life... in the gall bladder!" Kind of prophetic, considering Andy Warhol died from complications following gall bladder surgery, but I don't wanna bring everyone down. Still, I think my favorite *scene* in the movie has to be where Otto's rationalizing to himself why it's okay to go for the groceries on the female zombie, and starts yellin' about how Udo never even finished medical school. Basically it's a completely nonsensical "why should I have to listen to him?" argument he's having with himself, which is really amusing. That said, there's nothing funny in this movie that isn't intended to be, save maybe a couple of the special effects, but even those I suspect were done that way deliberately. And that fact bears repeating, because to me, it's far more difficult to make a successful horror/comedy than it is to make a successful straight horror movie.
Okay then, let's hoist this sucker up beside Warhol's soup can paintings and see which one holds the most condensed water. The plot, while generally the same basic premise as the classic Frankenstein story, has one major twist that I feel makes it a lot more interesting. That being Frankenstein's desire to breed his monsters and create a new race of beings that'll be subservient to him. Now, the creation of a new race for world domination idea isn't exactly a new one, but the mad scientist patching creatures together in the laboratory cliche generally involves the guy wanting to make all the monsters himself, where here, we've got a guy trying to make a race that would be self replicating. That goofy (yet practical) detail fits in perfectly with the rest of the black humor inherent in the overall script, and makes it a little more interesting. The acting is pretty good for the most part, despite the completely different accents flying fast and furious from the three principal actors. You've got Udo Kier who was born in Germany, Monique van Vooren who was born in Belgium, and Joe Dallesandro who was born in Pensacola, which, while really funny, I would consider a legitimate flaw. So you've got Udo with his German accent, Monique's French accent, and Joe speaking with an American accent, all acting together in a movie shot in Rome. That said, this movie's got some great characters, with Udo completely stealing the show in the Frankenstein role. The delivery of every single line is so enthusiastically serious that you can't help but love the guy. Arno Juerging is also really entertaining as the sexually frustrated, sycophantic Otto. I love the way his hair always look like somebody tossed a toaster into the bathtub with him too, very good performance. Monique van Vooren's pretty fun too, even though her name makes her sound like a Mamie Van Doren impersonator.
Here's who matters and why: Joe Dallesandro (Blood for Dracula, The Killer Nun, Black Moon, Garden of Death), Monique van Vooren (Tarzan and the She-Devil), Udo Kier (The Editor 2014, Night of the Templar, The Lords of Salem, The Theatre Bizarre, Melancholia, Mother of Tears, Halloween 2007, Fall Down Dead, Pray for Morning, Bloodrayne, Headspace, Evil Eyes, Dracula 3000, One Point O, Feardotcom, Shadow of the Vampire, End of Days, Besat, Killer Deal, Blade, Armageddon, Modern Vampires, Johnny Mnemonic, Blackest Heart, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne, Suspiria, Spermula, Trauma 1976, Blood for Dracula, Mark of the Devil), Arno Juerging (Blood for Dracula), Dalila Di Lazzaro (Phenomena, Night Train Murders, Frankenstein '80), Nicoletta Elmi (Demons, Deep Red, The Night Child, Baron Blood, A Bay of Blood), Cristina Gaioni (But You Were Dead), Rosita Torosh (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Red Nights of the Gestapo, The Dead Are Alive, Night of the Devils), Carla Mancini (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Autopsy, Beyond the Door, Lover of the Monster, The Hand that Feeds the Dead, Baba Yaga, Terror of the Living Dead, Death Smiles on a Murderer, The Lady in Red Kills Seven Times, The Dead Are Alive, All the Colors of the Dark, The Devil's Lover, Night of the Damned, Web of the Spider, Black Belly of the Tarantula, Asylum Erotica). Udo, as the discerning viewer will undoubtedly realize, is one of the best known European genre actors of all time, though he does have one shameful, mainstream credit that must be exposed; that being the part of Lawrence Hartmann in Europa. Joe Dallesandro also had a moment of temporary insanity when he played the part of Uncle Joe in The Limey, but other than those two infractions, pretty solid genre casting here.
The special effects are hit and miss, but no self respecting gorehound would ever take a look at this one and feel like they they'd been cheated in terms of total volume. The strangest thing about a movie with a script like this is that it's actually shot pretty well and looks to have had a reasonable budget. But to get down to the specifics, we've got a gut bucket jubilee involvin' just about every organ in the human body, and a few that I'm pretty sure don't even exist. The vast majority of the organs look really good, leading me to believe they were a combination animal guts and various meat products packaged by Hickory Farms. You've also got some pretty detailed suture scars on several different torsos, and these also look very good. Where the movie falters a little is with the severed head of Srdjan Zelenovic, and the decapitation scene that creates it. It's not on screen too long, but that shot was definitely not Carlo Rambaldi's finest moment. Still, that's actually a pretty high bar, considering Rambaldi also worked on Deep Red, King Kong (1976), Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Alien, E.T., and Dune. In fact, he's credited as the creator of E.T., so yeah, he went on to have a pretty successful career. Course, I've gotta mention the blood, and because it's the 1970s, you've probably already guessed that it's exceptionally bright and kinda runny, which is definitely the biggest thorn in the movie's side. Oh, and there're bats on strings, which tend to suck without exception in any movie, regardless of budget. The shooting locations are probably the weakest aspect of this one, even though all that really means is that they were just "okay." All the outdoor scenes are pretty nice, however, the majority of the movie takes place inside Frankenstein's castle, which isn't what you'd call period appropriate in certain places. One area of the castle that's not too far from the lab seems to have walls constructed from modern bathroom tile, while the lab itself is a little bit styrofoamy in its depiction of castle walls. Not terrible, mind you, but it does show a little. The best location is probably the castle corridor with the iron gate posts and the dirt floor, very dungeon like. Still, better to have your set look slightly cheap than to have lousy actors or bad special effects. The soundtrack is, as you might expect, performed in a classical style with a lot of piano tunes and some horns thrown in for good measure. The music itself is not especially memorable, but it fits perfectly into the era in which the film is set, and also has a bizarre synergy with the ridiculous acts being depicted on the screen. You really haven't lived until you've seen a necrophilia sequence set to classical piano music. It's completely insane, yet utterly effective. Overall, Flesh for Frankenstein is a pretty good, disgusting, bizarre black comedy that's both well executed on a technical level and entertaining to boot, check it out.