Lady Frankenstein (1971)

It surprises me both in what that movie poster gets wrong about this film as well as what it gets right. The creature does kind of look that way, except half his face is mangled. The dude in the foreground attacking a lady doesn’t happen. And Joseph Cotton’s name is on there, which is fantastic. Yeah, Lady Frankenstein has a direct connection to Citizen Kane. Things like this are why I get up in the morning.

The 1970s house some incredible cinema. The decade also houses some incredible ideas about cinema, what can be shown, how editing should be utilized, etc. It also had some impactful questions about race in the post-Civil Rights era in the US, the influence of international cinemas, and the exploration of human sexuality after the sexual liberation of the 1960s. Somewhere along the way, some folks decided that Frankenstein, a story about a dude made from stitched up corpses, was perfect erotic fodder. That’s how we get to Lady Frankenstein. It’s also how we get Flesh for Frankenstein, but that’s Andy Warhol, so I’m just gonna back away from that one slowly.

Baron Frankenstein is happily busy buying up corpses from grave robbers with his assistant, Dr. Marshall, when his smoking hot daughter, Dr. Tania Frankenstein, returns home having graduated from medical school. Don’t ask me how he had a daughter since he’s like 20 years younger in the story and fails to get married without his mad science throwing a kink in the works, but whatever, we’re just here for the ride. Tania (because if I keep calling her Dr. Frankenstein, it’s gonna get real hard to tell everyone apart real quick) reveals she knows about her father’s work and is down to join in, though the Baron is obviously not so keen on his daughter having to go through all the crap he’s endured. She persists however, and in the end he agrees to let her participate. And then his hideously mangled giant reanimated corpse with a damaged brain brutally murders him with a hug and walks out, so Tania has to come up with a plan to stop it.

The plan? Put Marshall’s brain into the hunky body of the mentally disabled Thomas so we can have a creature fight the likes of which haven’t been seen since Frankenstein Conquers the World. Also, this will give him super strength for some reason. So how does Tania talk Marshall into murdering a guy and then getting his brain put in the corpse? Marriage. Because how can you say you love someone if you won’t let them perform surgical experiments on you?

In the meantime, Tania has to contend with Thomas’ sister, the nasty grave robber who has the hots for her, and supersleuth Captain Harris, who knows there’s a connection to all this. Oh, and the creature keeps killing everyone involved in its creation, so yes, we do eventually get a super strong creature fight in a castle. In the end, Marshall/Thomas kills the creature, Captain Harris and Thomas’ sister walk in to find Marshall/Thomas and Tania totally engaging in some post-murder boning, and Marshall/Thomas strangles Tania and lets the castle burn down because…reasons.

Yeah, I’m not so into freaky erotic Frankenstein takes, and this one is no different. People shouldn’t be out there getting off to dead things. Yes, I mean you, Necromantik. But back to this movie. It has the look and feel of a gothic Hammer knock-off, but it’s definitely stuck in that 1970s Hammer going-down-the-drain era. That’s not a good sign, but hey, it’s Italy. They were giving us great schlock since time immemorial. Now how Joseph Cotton got talked into this, I don’t know.

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