Saddled with insatiable sister/wife Katrin (Monique Van Vooren) and two creepy mute kids, Baron Frankenstein (Udo Kier) spends most of his time locked in the laboratory basement of his opulent castle with his loyal servant Otto (Arno Juerging).

The Baron has already created a woman from fresh body parts, and has become obsessed with creating a male counterpart so the two can ultimately mate.

Meanwhile hunky gypsy Nicholas (Joe Dallesandro) falls foul of Katrin when she catches him shagging a local peasant on her grounds. She reprimands him and threatens to punish him, but eventually employs his services as her aide ... and her lover.

Nicholas is an insatiable beast himself and takes his best friend Sacha (Srdjan Zelenovic) to a brothel in the hope of perishing his aspirations of becoming a celibate monk. Once in the brothel, Sacha watches disinterested as Nicholas pleasures a couple of whores. Until, inexplicably, a lizard crawls out of Nicholas' arse and the women flee into the street screaming.

Sacha pokes his head out of the brothel door and shouts for the women to come back. At that moment, the Baron and Otto spot him. They're in town on the lookout for a sexually charged male brain. Naturally, they assume Sacha is a sexual tiger and wait in the bushes to ambush him later that evening.

Otto bashes the drunken Nicholas over the head as Sacha is decapitated by the Baron in gory style. The next morning, Nicholas can remember nothing of what happened but is desperate to locate his friend. It is, then, logical that he is disturbed when he later serves dinner to the Baron and his family ... and sees his friend sat there as their guest. Sacha remains silent and does not acknowledge Nicholas in any way.

So, Nicholas uses his sexual hold over Katrin to get her to help him find out just what the Baron's been getting up to in his out-of-bounds lab; Katrin agrees as she sees the Baron's "male zombie" as another potential conquest; the Baron becomes increasingly frustrated at Sacha's lack of arousal when confronted with his beautiful naked female mate; Otto aspires to follow in his master's footsteps and discover the meaning of life by "fucking it in the gall bladder"; and the creepy kids prove that spying on their Dad's surgical experiments all this time has taught them a thing or two ... Got all that?

Muddled, confused and not as funny as it hoped to be, FRANKENSTEIN was made virtually back-to-back with BLOOD FOR DRACULA. Despite the fact that FRANKENSTEIN came first - filmed by director Paul Morrissey to cash in on the 3D craze of its time (spiders, lizards, entrails etc all lunge out towards the audience) - and DRACULA only transpired because ample budget was left over to make a second film, the latter is ironically a much better film.

It feels like the angle aimed at here was Greek tragedy - but what we get is broad farce bordering on Carry On silliness at times. Kier was a paradoxically melancholic hoot in DRACULA, for instance, but overdoes the campiness way too much this time around.

Having said that, it's still an accomplished film on many levels and it benefits from wonderful cinematography coupled with amazing European locations. The costumes, the interior decor of the old castle: it's all beautiful to behold.

While the humour may be embarrassingly misjudged by most of the cast (only the typically cool Dallesandro appears 'natural'), Carlo Rambaldi (ET; DEEP RED) ensures that the film scores high in the gore stakes. Okay, the FX work is quite primitive, but considering this is a small-budgeted film that was shot in 1973 we get some satisfyingly moist disembowelments and dismemberment. Indeed, the film gained notoriety in the UK when it was banned during the 1980s as a video nasty.

FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN is essentially a smug parody of Hammer's most celebrated era, with plenty of schoolboy smut and low-brow humour thrown in for good measure. It is entertaining, definitely. It's just not in the same league as altogether more considered DRACULA.

Shock DVD's Australian blu-ray presents the film uncut and in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The picture benefits from 16x9 enhancement. The 1080i transfer is housed as an MPEG4-AVC file. That's where the good news ends.

Unfortunately, this presentation is sorely lacking. Detail is soft from the start and there are frequent instances of motion blurring to be found. Colours are also somewhat dull, while debris on the print is ample evidence of no restoration whatsoever having taken place. DRACULA, also released by Shock onto blu-ray, hasn't been restored either - but fares a lot better visually than this companion piece.

The English Master HD mono audio track is also a tad disappointing. Although clear for the duration and without background hiss, there are occasional 'pops' on the soundtrack which really should've been ironed out in this day and age.

The disc opens to a static main menu page. From there, pop-up menus include a scene-selection menu allowing access to the film via 12 chapters.

Although listed on the back cover, there is no sign on the disc of an audio commentary track from Morrissey and Kier. What we do get are a 23-minute gallery of production stills and 4 minutes of archival screen test footage. Both come with audio commentary from Morrissey which was recorded back in 2005 - if you've owned the film previously on DVD, then the chances are you already have these.

Like BLOOD FOR DRACULA, this blu-ray is housed in a keepcase which also comes with an additional outer card slipcase.

At best, this release from Shock DVD can be viewed as nothing more than a stop-gap blu-ray until someone takes the time to treat this cult classic to a worthy HD restoration.

By Stuart Willis

Released by Shock DVD
Region B
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review