Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966)

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966)

“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.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Frankenstein
  • Mad Doctors and Scientists
  • Thieves and Criminals
  • Westerns

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

Must See?
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.


One thought on “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966)

  1. First viewing. Not a must.

    As ffs probably know, Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey did their own…personal…riff on the Frankenstein and Dracula as double-bill thing. To much better and more hilarious effect as intentional camp.

    ‘JJMFD’ is much more dull than genuine camp. Definitely an under-achiever. If you’re looking for camp here, you’ll be looking everywhere, all throughout the picture; you’ll find yourself coming up short. ~which is a shame because the film seems to want to be screaming out as camp and…can’t…quite…make it. As noted, the ‘saving grace’ in that department is Onyx. She’s certainly on ‘the right page’ for unintended fun but, surprisingly, she’s in very little of the picture – and whoever was attempting to write what became the script wasn’t able to fuel her properly with everything needed for the abysmally wrong.

    I’m giving Estelita Rodriguez a slight nod for ‘acting honors’ since she’s so…earnest. Not good but earnest.

    Quite oddly, Beaudine has not done a bad job directing what amounts to high school stuff. And the score by Raoul Kraushaar (who has a long list of H’wood credits; 6 years later, he was working as music coordinator for ‘Cabaret’) certainly does wonders in helping viewers stay awake and engaged.

    Not a snore, but not a snare.

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