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THE LOVER OF THE MONSTER (Sergio Garrone, 1974) *1/2
In hindsight, this obscure, meaninglessly-titled Italian horror movie is to "Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde" what LADY FRANKENSTEIN (1971) was to "Frankenstein" but, as an erotic version of the classic tale, it is a long way behind Walerian Borowczyk's brilliantly delirious DOCTEUR JEKYLL ET LES FEMMES (1981). The atrocious print displayed on this bootleg DVD replete with fuzzy video and annoyingly processed audio as if it had been recorded under water! destroys any attempt at the Gothic feel the film strives for but, in truth, the whole production is a mind-boggling hodgepodge of every horror cliché in the book with elements of Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde and Jack The Ripper (whom star Klaus Kinski would play, far more successfully, for Jess Franco a couple of years later) thrown into the mix not to mention an impotent villain given to raging fits of jealousy, indigestible dollops of Freudian self-analysis (usually uttered by a wimpish Kinski while lounging from one sofa to another), a rival doctor vieing for the attentions of the mad scientist's neglected wife, gore (the gratuitous vivisection of a dog), not one but two distinct tramps convicted of the murder spree (lazy writing, if you ask me!), hilarious character names (Nijinsky, Polanski, Boris, Ygor, Ivan Rassimov), etc.!
Having said that, Kinski who is unusually subdued here - is always worth watching but, while the movie is mostly dull, it is occasionally alleviated by the vivid colors and two effective sequences: Kinski's savage attack on his wife while transformed and the conscience-stricken flashback to his past murders. The film's final image is arresting as well, the music score is rather nice and Katia Christine makes for a lovely leading lady (almost like an older Scarlet Johansson) and the intermittent bits of nudity certainly don't hurt any. Still, all the frenzied cutting and odd camera angles prove laughable rather than laudable; Kinski's make-up only extends to close-ups of his bulging eyes and, what's worse, although a serum is concocted, his transformation seemingly occurs when he comes in contact with a certain laboratory lever (what the f***?) but what about the other times (unless his jealousy attacks bring on the mutation)? For the record, writer-director Sergio Garrone is brother to actor Riccardo (best-known nowadays for portraying God on a slew of coffee commercials on Italian TV!) and THE LOVER OF THE MONSTER itself was simultaneously filmed with another obscure international potboiler, THE HAND THAT FEEDS THE DEAD (1974), with most of the same cast and crew participating in both productions.
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