This is another film I was barely aware of before I acquired it (unfortunately, it cuts off before the end credits have finished rolling!) on the strength of the theme and credentials director Jessua having already dabbled in the genre with TRAITEMENT DE CHOC (1973), LES CHIENS (1979) and PARADIS POUR TOUS (1982). I also did not expect it to be a spoof of the famous tale (since its makers were typically associated with sober stuff), but the result proved nonetheless thought-provoking and quite satisfactory. Incidentally, it was to be among the last works of scriptwriter Paul Gegauff (best-known for his long-time collaboration with the late great Claude Chabrol) prior to being murdered by his own wife! on Christmas Eve '83.
Anyway, while not as broadly comic as Mel Brooks' popular YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974), there are still some definite laugh-out-loud moments here the funniest being the aftermath of a car accident (with the monster himself behind the wheel!). Besides, this is the only Frankenstein movie where you will see the creature played here by singer Eddy Mitchell donning jeans and shades and he even goes to watch one of his own cinematic adventures (in which he is incarnated by one Maurice Tarloff)! In the same quirky vein, we get the monster repeatedly embarrassing its master Jean Rochefort by killing a cop-turned-procurer/blackmailer (merely by a slap in the face) and, for his mate, he takes the initiative to kidnap (and hang in deep-freeze) a trio of exotic dancers the doctor had indicated as prospective 'donors'; for the monster, he had previously worn a mask in order to steal the requisite body parts from his own workplace and had even been forced to knock-out his fiancée Elizabeth, now a scientist herself! For the record, the latter is played by Fiona Gelin, daughter of actor Daniel and half-sister of the recently-deceased Maria Schneider!
Incidentally, as per the Mary Shelley source novel, we get two creatures for the price of one: a prototype (i.e. ugly-looking) male who learns to talk instantly but then, in something of a clichéd situation, has to be told what love is! and a gorgeous statuesque female (Dutch Herma Vos, another singer curiously enough) but who, this time around, bears no visible marks of her patched-up nature! As in BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), too, the latter takes an instant liking to her creator rather than her intended (there is also a nod to the 1931 original's inadvertent child murder in the similarly playful maid's death here). With Elizabeth getting a more central role than usual, and though she had been shaken by the monster's attempted rape of her, the couples eventually swap partners (echoing the afore-mentioned YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN)! The creatures actually engage in a fight atop the Frankenstein castle (though the events largely take place in Paris, we revert to Geneva for the finale) which ends pretty much in a draw.
Other notable assets are the interesting cavernous sets for the main lab (with the reconstructed bodies covered by a golden tin foil) and a surprisingly buoyant score by Armando Trovajoli. During the latter stages, however, the film seems to bite off more than it can chew after a veritable siege at the Frankenstein house, the monster and Elizabeth escape across the ice (it seems that, after being neglected for so many years, every new interpretation has to incorporate this sprawling chilly landscape!) only for him to re-emerge an entrepreneur (surrounded by all the modern commodities and with the ability to speak in several languages!), with scientist now reduced to a mere employee, and the mass-produced creatures (amusingly made-up to look like the David Bowie alter ego Ziggy Stardust!) already resenting their lot and sowing the seeds of rebellion!
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