Friday, February 18, 2011

Franco Friday #4: Rites of Frankenstein

Franco Friday #4

Rarely have I been this stupefied, this discombobulated, this gobsmacked, or this totally friggin' destroyed by a movie. I almost just want to post some screenshots and let you decide for yourselves what I just watched is all about. But I figure that since I'm the bloggist around here, I better give this one a shot. Make no mistakes my friends, this may be the weirdest film you will ever see.

The Rites of Frankenstein
AKA The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, La Maldicion de Frankenstein
Directed by Jess Franco
85 minutes
Starring Alberto Dalbes, Dennis Price, Howard Vernon, Beatriz Savon, Anne Libert, Fernando Bilbao, Britt Nichols

Shortly after he completes his monster, Dr. Frankenstein (played by Dennis Price) is murdered by Melisa (Anne Libert), a blind bird woman with a taste for human blood. The doctor’s daughter Vera (Beatriz Savon) shows up, takes her father’s body from the tomb, and revives his corpse long enough so she can find out who is behind this crime. The Frankenstein monster tries to kidnap a woman for his new master but Vera convinces him to take her instead.

It turns out that the evil magician, Cagliostro (played by Howard Vernon), wants to create a super being by mating the Frankenstein monster with his female counterpart, which he orders Vera to complete. After he hypnotizes and whips the heck out of her, she immediately goes to work on the she-monster. Meanwhile, Doctor Seward (Alberto Dalbes), a former colleague of Dr. Frankenstein, steps in to rescue Vera and stop all this madness.

Holy shit, Rites of Frankenstein is even more insane that I thought it would be. Hell, it’s even better than I thought would be too. So if you like pseudoscience, sacrifices, psychic powers, reanimated dead people, whippings, and other ghoulish delights, you need to see this film, duders. Jess Franco is firing on all cylinders with one crazy scene after another. And by all cylinders, I mean one cylinder is firing furiously and the rest are melting. This thing could explode at any second but the movie is only 85 minutes so disaster is averted. The soundtrack has got it all with everything from fuzzed out synthesizers to free jazz to stuffy library music.

The elephant in the room of course is that this is the clothed version. That’s right folks, this is supposed to be The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein but since I’m not all about the pron, I couldn’t care less. Oddly enough, I think Lina Romay (who plays a character so slight, so poorly realized that you could categorize her role as a cameo (but that might be too generous)) is hotter with clothes on. There was definitely a moment for a prolonged masturbation scene and it jumps to her readjusting her wardrobe. Did I feel cheated? Hell no, I didn’t. I was relieved. Sorry you dang perverts, but I’m just here for the horror and the weirdness.

I love Rites of Frankenstein and you should love it too. This movie needs love. It’s a hilariously childish and morbid horror fantasy with its head screwed on backwards and sideways. Seriously though, how the fuck can a film have striking cinematography and yet be slightly out of focus for nearly all of its running time? There’s even a machine that looks an awful lot like an air conditioner that reanimates the dead and some acid that instantly melts a human head thrown in with all this tomfoolery. Damn it, you need to see this. Did I even mention the silver Frankenstein monster?


  1. I love Libert in this one. Her bird woman rendition is beyond compare. Romay is quite beautiful in this one, and this one of her first roles for Franco. This one has a comic-book inspiration and the colors and the weirdness, as you note, really come through.

    Having a lot of fun reading these, Richard, and have a great weekend, my man.

  2. I saw and reviewed this one last year--what a wild time! Really out there, even for Franco, but as you say with some really effective cinematography and beautiful locations. I actually checked this out of my local library, and while it was the clothed version, it had the nude versions of several scenes as bonus features. I need to make friends with the acquisitions librarian--clearly she's a freak!

    My review here, if you're innerested:

  3. I really need to jump on the Franco train.

  4. @Hans A. - Thanks, captain. I'm having a blast writing about these crazy flicks.

    @VicaRRRRRR - Funny you should mention your acquisitions librarian. The one at my library acquired Jess Franco's Succubus from Video Search of Miami years before it came out on DVD from Image. Weird, right? Anyway, I am reading your review now.

    @Justin - Forget the train, jump in the Franco brain.

  5. This sounds like a fun one!
    And re: the clothed/unclothed versions of Franco films: A few days ago I saw the clothed version of Devil's Island Lovers. The DVD had half an hour from the unclothed version as an extra and it's like a completely different film with different takes on characters and story development etc. The clothed version had a quite elaborate story before the prison segment (25 min or so); the unclothed version started smack in the middle of the prison story and was a full-blown WIP flick with more torture and, of course, nudity, but as I said, it made for a totally different film, not just some more beaver shots.

    Franco Friday is becoming an institution, I love it.