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After the Fall of the Hammer:
Frankenstein films from the early 1970s to the 1990s

          The 1960s and 1970s were not particularly successful decades for Victor Frankenstein and his Monster. After the end of Hammer's own Frankenstein series with the final entry Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, cinemas were flooded with mostly Italian and Spanish low-budget productions that tried to exploit Mary Shelley's story and the popular Frankenstein "brand". Most of these titles hardly contributed anything new to the Frankenstein myth  and ended up as being crude mixtures of sex, violence and bad screenwriting. However, despite their lack of any serious cinematic merit, many of these movies have since become "cult classics". They are still favorites at midnight screenings and cult film festivals, mostly due to their low-budget origins and ridiculous plots and dialogue.

This seemingly endless list of movies contains forgettable fare such as trash king Jess Franco's Dracula Prisoner of Frankenstein (Spain, 1972) and The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein aka
Les Expériences érotiques de Frankenstein (Spain, 1972). The convoluted plot of Erotic Rites of Frankenstein revolves around evil sorcerer Cagliostro and his aide Melissa the bird-woman (!), who murder Dr. Frankenstein, steal his creature (a Karloff-look-a-like with funky silver-painted skin) and plan to create a race of super-humans. Considered absolute rubbish even among many Jess Franco devotees, the film is memorable for scenes such as the silvery Monster whipping a scantily clad couple. Erotic Rites of Frankenstein makes absolutely no sense and ranks among the worst films the author of these pages has ever had the misfortune to watch. One might argue that it has some sort of dream-like atmosphere completely removed from reality, but after all this no-budget production is only dull and stuffed with bad acting, laughable effects and terrible, mostly out-of-focus camera work. Both this and the equally bad Dracula Prisoner of Frankenstein should be avoided at any cost.
Compared to Jess Franco's rubbish, the Afro-American Frankenstein version entitled Blackenstein (USA, 1972; dir: William A. Levey), in which a black Vietnam veteran is turned into a blood-thirsty monster by one Dr. Stein, the sexploitation comedy Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (Italy, 1973; dir: Ramiro Oliveros) and Al Adamson's Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (USA, 1970) might seem like cinematic masterpieces, although in fact they are also better left unwatched.
La Figlia di Frankenstein aka Lady Frankenstein (Italy, 1971, dir: Mel Welles), is another typical product of that period. Taking elements from Hammer's series, this Italian-American low-budget production adds a female Frankenstein figure, Tania (Rosalba Neri), to continue her father's work, after he is killed by his Monster. The movie ends up as a crude mixture of Hammer-style horror, spiced up with sex and nudity and pointless violence, but is ultimately ruined by bad acting, laughable special effects and ridiculous plot-twists and dialogue, albeit none as bad as in Erotic Rites.

Building on their successful Gojira monster series, Japanese studio Toho released two movies with references to Frankenstein in the 1960s, directed by Ishiro Honda: In 1965s Furankenshutain tai chitei kaijû Baragon (Frankenstein Conquers the World) the immortal heart of Frankenstein's monster is brought to Japan, where it is revived by nuclear radiation during the bombing of Hiroshima. The heart mutates into a boy who then grows and finally develops into a giant monster, which battles Baragon, a dinosaur released during an earthquake. The sequel Furankenshutain no kaiju: Sanda tai Gaira (1966) has only loose connections to the Frankenstein story, which were completely edited out in the US-distributed version entitled War of the Gargantuas. Basically, the plot revolves around two hairy giant monsters spawned from cells of the Frankenstein monster, which end up battling each other. Both movies are notable for the fact that the name Frankenstein refers to the monsters rather than the creator.













Flesh For Frankenstein

© 1999-2005 Andreas Rohrmoser