Flesh for Frankenstein (Blu-ray) (1973)
Gallery-Photo-Production Stills with Paul Morrissey commentary
More…-Screen Tests with Paul Morrissey commentary
|Year Of Production||1973|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Monique van Vooren
Dalila Di Lazzaro
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 mono|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Baron Frankenstein (Udo Kier) is living in Serbia in a castle with his sister / wife the Baroness Katrin (Monique van Vooren) and their two children. With his assistant Otto (Arno Juerging) the Baron is constructing the perfect zombie woman and the perfect zombie man from whom he intends to breed a perfect master race, owing their loyalty only to himself. He has completed the woman (Dalila Di Lazzaro), but is finding the man more difficult for he needs, he believes, the head of a man with an extreme sex drive.
The Baroness, meanwhile, has seen randy farm hand Nicholas (Joe Dallesandro) making love to farm girls a couple of times in the fields. She rather likes what she sees and commands him to visit her in the castle the next day. Nicholas’ friend Sacha (Srdjan Zelenovic) is not really into women and is intent on soon joining a monastery but Nicholas persuades Sacha to come with him to the brothel in town; there Nicholas has lusty sex with two prostitutes but Sacha remains uninterested. The Baron and Otto are hiding outside the brothel and see Sacha. Believing Sacha to have a high sex drive, the Baron and Otto ambush the two friends as they leave the brothel that night; they knock Nicholas unconscious and behead Sacha, leaving his body on the path. When Nicholas regains consciousness the next morning, he buries Sacha’s headless corpse and then goes to see the Baroness as requested.
Katrin wants sex and she very quickly gets Nicholas undressed and into action, later employing him to be her servant. In his laboratory the Baron is also busy: he sews Sacha’s head onto the male body he already has and successfully activates both his male and female creations. That evening, as a test, he takes them to dine with his wife and children. Nicholas is serving dinner and he is stunned to see Sacha, although Sacha fails to recognise Nicholas. Nicholas is determined to find out what happened to his friend and with the help of the Baron’s two children makes his way into the Baron’s laboratory for a climax that is very gory and which takes an unexpected twist.
With the popularity of the Hammer horror monster franchises in the 50s, 60s and into the 70s, it was no surprise that other Frankenstein and Dracula films were made. Flesh for Frankenstein, made in 1973 by writer / director Paul Morrissey at Cinecitta studios in Rome, must have been one of the most bizarre. Immediately afterwards Morrissey made his companion piece, Blood for Dracula, with many of the same cast.
Flesh for Frankenstein is a strange beast. It was intended as a comedy (according to writer / director Morrissey) and was filmed in 3D to cash in on the craze then currently in vogue and blood, guts and intestines are happily thrust at the camera. Indeed, it is quite bloody and gory overall, with decapitations, severed hands, blood spurting and surgery where blood flows and intestines are ripped out of severed bodies. There is also sex, full frontal male and female nudity, perversion, incest and necrophilia, wooden acting, phony dialects all over the place and excruciatingly chunky and silly dialogue. Udo Kier is effeminate and smarmy as Frankenstein, reminding me a bit of Peter Lorre (although he performed much better as Dracula, a role I think suited him better), Monique van Vooren is wooden and Joe Dallesandro, a Morrissey regular, uncharismatic. Better are Arno Juerging as his Otto is playing it more for laughs and the two who play the Baron’s children, Marco Liofredi and Nicoletta Elmi, who have almost no dialogue but who provide the basis of the chilling climax to the film.
Other aspects of the film work better. The castle location looks very good and some of the widescreen compositions by cinematographer Luigi Kuveiller, such as at that special dinner or the laboratory with the male and female monsters spread across the screen, are spectacular. The score, by Claudio Gizzi, is haunting and impressively diverse, sounding as if it belongs in a better film.
Paul Morrissey was closely associated with Andy Warhol, including discovering the Velvet Underground , and Warhol’s name appears in the credits as presenting Flesh for Frankenstein. Flesh for Frankenstein was banned as a video nasty in the UK in the 1980s, but this version appears to be uncut.
Flesh for Frankenstein is presented in the original 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio, in 1080i using the MPEG-4 AVC code.
This is a nice, acceptable HD print for a low budget film now 40 years old. Colours are natural, if fairly muted, although the red of guts, intestines and blood is bright. There is some softness but on the whole faces and the laboratory set and its apparatus are nicely detailed. Blacks are solid and shadow detail good. Grain is well controlled, brightness and contrast consistent, skin tones natural.
There are a number of small marks on the print, most of which are hardly noticeable, and minor motion blur against mottled surfaces such as tiles.
There are no subtitles.
The audio is an English DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono. The theatrical film release of the film featured a mono audio, so nothing is lost.
Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. While this is a mono audio the effects, such as pony carriage wheels, footsteps or the electricity used in the experiment have some depth. The score by Claudio Gizzi is haunting and impressively diverse and is well presented.
There is no surround or subwoofer use.
I noticed some slight hiss in moments without music or effects.
Lip synchronisation, perhaps surprisingly given the multinational cast, was fine.
|Surround Channel Use|
Morrissey comments that he does not do screen tests, casting on impulse, but the producers had available some spare film stock so he shot some footage with Srdjan Zelenovic to work out camera angles.
Recorded in 2005, this is more a mini-director’s commentary as Morrissey talks about the film while watching production stills (some black and white, some colour) that play in the sequence of the completed film. Morrissey talks about his intentions, the plotting, characters and cast and how the dialogue was going to be improvised but how he ended up writing it each morning. Morrissey also spends a lot of time talking about how Flesh for Frankenstein was intended to be a comedy, about the nature of comedy and humour and about doing things his way. Certainly interesting and worth a listen.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
While there are some DVD releases of Flesh for Frankenstein listed on Amazon, some going for over $US60, our Australian Blu-ray release from Shock Entertainment seems to be the only one currently available on sales sites around the world.
I like off-kilter and exploitation films but I really could not get into Flesh for Frankenstein. It is a bizarre beast; it is not funny enough to be a parody of the Frankenstein stories, the acting is over the top and a lot of the nudity is gratuitous and not particularly erotic, unless the Baroness noisily sucking Nicholas’ armpit while he muses about his missing friend falls into that category. Is it “the goriest, sexiest, Frankenstein ever” as the blurb on the Blu-ray cover claims? Possibly the goriest; the jury is still out on the other claim but the film does have a cult following.
The film looks good in HD, the audio is the original mono. The extras are relevant and interesting.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|