“I do not trust the Frankensteins: they’re wicked; they’re terrible people. They will destroy you!”
Although presumed dead, Jesse James (John Lupton) emerges alive and well in a border town with his buddy Hank (Cal Bolder), who gets shot during an attempted hold-up. With the help of Jesse’s new love interest, Juanita (Estelita Rodriguez), Hank is taken to the home of Dr. Maria Frankenstein (Narda Onyx), who dreams of transplanting her infamous grandfather’s brain into Hank’s body.
As numerous critics have noted, this revisionist genre-hybrid by director William “One Shot” Beaudine — shot at the same time as its “companion piece”, Billy the Kid Versus Dracula (1966) — is disappointing on all counts save one: Narda Onyx’s campy portrayal as the original Frankstein’s granddaughter (not daughter, as she’s mis-identified in the title). Whenever she’s on-screen, spouting her delusional dreams of mad doc grandeur, we’re mildly intrigued; whenever she’s not, we’re utterly bored. Lupton is okay but ultimately a tad too milquetoast as a Robin Hood-esque Jesse James (did he decide to sort of mend his ways after being falsely presumed dead?), and his “relationship” with hunk-o-beef Cal Bolder (what a name!) is simply begging for homoerotic analysis. Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly enough laughably bad scenes or snippets of dialogue here to satisfy those who enjoy “bad movies” for exactly this reason; chances are you’ll be checking your watch long before it’s over. With that said, Z-grade reviewer Joe Bob Briggs’ commentary on the 2003 DVD release is apparently worth a listen (though I watched my copy taped off of TCM, so didn’t have a chance to catch this myself.)
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Onyx’s campily earnest portrayal as Maria Frankenstein
No — though I’m pretty sure most film fanatics won’t be able to resist briefly checking out this infamously titled bad movie (nominated for a Golden Turkey award in the Medved brothers’ book as one of the worst-titled films in cinematic history). Listed as a Camp Classic in the back of Peary’s book.