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In Serbia, Baron Frankenstein lives with the Baroness and their two children. He dreams of a super-race, returning Serbia to its grand connections to ancient Greece. In his laboratory, assisted by Otto, he builds a desirable female body, but needs a male who will be super-body and super-lover. He thinks he has found just the right brain to go with a body he's built, but he's made an error, taking the head of a asexual ascetic. Meanwhile, the Baroness has her lusts, and she fastens on Nicholas, a friend of the dead lad. Can the Baron pull off his grand plan? He brings the two zombies together to mate. Meanwhile, Nicholas tries to free his dead friend. What about the Baron's children? Written by
Possibly the oddest re-imagining of the Frankenstein story ever made, Paul Morrissey's 1973 semi-avant-garde, satirical spoof is also one of the funniest, and most gruesome. Dr. Von Frankenstein (played by B-movie favourite Udo Kier) is obsessed with creating what he believes will become a master race of Serbians who will bend at his will. He locks himself away with his assistant Otto (Arno Juerging), manufacturing hideous creations from body parts. He creates a male and a female to give birth to the first of his new race, but he is frustrated and unsatisfied with the male's sexual urges. Von Frankenstein's wife/sister, meanwhile, is following her own urges with farmhand Nicholas (Joe Dalessandro), who is coincidentally the best friend of the doctor's latest victim.
One of the strangest pairings in cinema history, director Morrissey and producer Andy Warhol have certainly created an interesting piece of horror. For all it's rather sick moments of debauchery, it is actually quite impressive artistically. Filmed in Cinecitta in Rome (one of Federico Fellini's favourite film studios), the set design for Von Frankenstein's laboratory in vast and impressive. This approach works both for and against the film, as although it gives the film a grand, often operatic feel, the film can sometimes look like it's on stage. That said, Morrissey's ability to frame a shot is often spectacular, especially in the ultra-wide dinner table scene, where Von Frankenstein introduces his wife/sister to his fresh creations.
Yet sometimes the film can feel a bit confused. It works well just a straight B-movie, with plenty of the weird and gruesome on show to satisfy horror fans (given those fans are into watching sex with torso wounds). But the film isn't really funny enough to call itself a comedy, clever enough to call itself a satire, or pretentious enough to be avant-garde. All these different themes seemed to clash together and I never felt settled with what kind of film I was supposed to be watching. If that was the point, then well done, but it still doesn't make the movie into anything special.
Saying that, I did thoroughly enjoy 90 minutes in the minds of two strange characters that had a small, if fascinating, effect on cinema.
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