Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein / Flesh for Frankstein (1973)

“We have to find the right head for this torso. It has to be of a man who strongly craves women — whose overriding urges are sensual.”

Andy Warhol Frankenstein Poster

Synopsis:
Baron Frankenstein (Udo Kier) and his loyal assistant Otto (Arno Juerging) attempt to create a new race of humans by mating the reconstructed bodies of a handsome man (Srdjan Zelenovic) and a beautiful woman (Dalia di Lazzaro). Meanwhile, Frankenstein’s sex-crazed wife (Monique Van Vooren) seduces her studly field worker (Joe Dallesandro), who was friends with the ill-fated Zelenovic.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary is subtle in his criticism of this satirical horror flick by director Paul Morrissey, noting that “the explicit violence in [the] film overwhelms the subtle humor and sex”, and that “the repetitive images and dialogue make [the] film tiresome.” What he neglects to mention is how hideously — indeed, distractingly — bad the acting is; while Morrissey apparently instructed his cast not to act “realistically”, the actors (with the possible exception of Kier) aren’t capable of achieving campy delivery (which might have been fun). Equally awful are the special effects — at a certain point, when Frankenstein is delving orgasmically into the innards of his “ideal woman”, he looks for all the world like he’s smearing red paint on her skin (which he probably was). Even the most diehard fans of Flesh for Frankenstein have noted that it isn’t for all tastes, and I guess I fall into this category; I greatly prefer its tongue-in-cheek companion piece, Blood for Dracula (released just a few months later); as Peary notes, the latter was “not as popular… but a much better film.”

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Some amusingly campy moments — as when Frankenstein counsels Otto that “to know death, you have to fuck life in the gallbladder.”
    Kier

Must See?
Yes, simply due to its cult following.

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One Response to “Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein / Flesh for Frankstein (1973)”

  1. Too much of a cult film to not be a must.

    I saw this with friends when it was released (in 3-D!), found it hilarious, but didn’t think much of it after. Subsequently saw ‘Blood for Dracula’ – always preferred that one; still do. However, I must say – upon seeing ‘FFF’ again recently – it’s not to be missed.

    Frankly, I don’t get Peary’s quoted remarks: the humor is not subtle, there’s very little sex (compared to ‘BFD’), and the film is anything but tiresome. Its dialogue certainly isn’t!

    Some choice bits –
    Kier on brothels: “It was terrible. All these over-developed women with their large breasts! And shapeless! And this kind of woman’s supposed to give you pleasure – with their filthy movements and dirty talk.”

    Kier, in a way mistaking ‘Sacha’ for Dallesandro: “2 girls? One man? He must be very powerful!”

    Kier re: severed head of ‘Sacha’: “Otto! Look at it! Finally we find the right head with the perfect nozzum!”

    Dallesandro, after fucking van Vooren: “What will be my other duties while in the house?”

    [Sidebar: What is with the sound effects people when van Vooren is sucking on Dallensandro’s armpit?!]

    van Vooren to post-experiment ‘Sacha’: “Are you from the town? [No response.] …I see.”

    ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ fans have lots in store for them here. BTW: I can’t swear to it, but one would think someone in the Warhol tribe saw ‘RHS’ in London. (The stage version didn’t open in L.A. til a week after ‘FFF’ was released.) Why do I say that? The incestuous brother-sister motif is retained; however, Magenta’s personality (too smart?) is jettisoned. Instead, the Frank N. Furter character is split: Kier is only interested in his lab work, while insatiable lust becomes van Vooren’s department.

    It’s hysterical that Criterion currently has DVD rights to ‘FFF’ and ‘BFD’. But, in a way, one can see why: both films are impressive in terms of art direction, photography, scores (the one for ‘FFF’ is often creepy, often plaintive, with lovely nods to Wagner). They also highlight Dallesandro’s particular ‘talents’.

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