Flesh For Frankenstein (1973)
What’s It About: Pop artist extraordinaire, Andy Warhol produced two gothic horror movies in the early 1970s. Both are over-the-top and push the boundary of good taste as should be expected from Warhol and company.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- I don’t know if the Baroness is the wife or sister to Udo Kier’s Baron Frankenstein. Could be both.
- This Dr. Frankenstein is very different from other incarnations in that he is obsessed with creating a life that is “Serbian perfect” and he’s obsessed with “nasum” or noses of the subjects. He also isn’t just a grave robber but kills to get the perfect subjects parts. He also calls his creations “Zombies.”
- Farmhand Nicholas’ Brooklyn accent is really sticking out like a sore thumb in this European set gothic tale.
- Well that’s something you don’t see often in films. A salamander crawling over a man’s naked ass while he’s in a bordello with two ladies.
- A semi-impressive SFX scene where the Baron chops off a guy’s head with a huge neck pruning shear-like device. The head looked like claymation when it was severed from the body and the headless body flayed around for a few moments before falling down. I liked it.
- Dr. Frankenstein is achieving an orgasm simply by reaching into the inner cavity of a dead lady’s cadaver.
- OK now he’s actually fucking the corpse. And after he’s done he says to his assistant: “To know death, Otto, you have to fuck life… in the gall bladder!” I’m not making this shit up. I don’t think Mary Shelley had this in mind when she wrote Frankenstein.
- Udo Kier is fucking hilarious in this. I think Tommy Wiseau is mimicking Udo in The Room.
- That was one busy day. Nicholas tells the Baroness that his friend (who’s severed head is on the new zombie body) that he served dinner to was killed last night. So in the span of less than a day, Nicholas has slept with the Baroness, TWICE and was hired as the new house servant and Dr. Frankenstein has stitched together two cadavers and reanimated them so well that they join the family at the dinner table without raising too many eyebrows. All in one short day!!
- So the Baron brings his two zombies to dinner. Why is anyone’s guess. My guess is he’s showing them off. He then scolds Nicholas for offering them food. “They are not ready for solid food!” Real nice having them sit at the dinner table with nothing to eat. Baron Frankenstein is a dick to zombies.
- In the previous scene, the Baroness tells Nicholas that the Baron’s laboratory was built with privacy and security in mind and that Nicholas could not get in there, yet in the next scene Frankenstein’s two young kids simply walk in and take a severed hand.
- The Baroness is literally sucking Nicholas’ armpit with these terribly disgusting loud slurping sounds. It’s downright appalling. She’s like a piglet suckling at his teet.
- And now one of the female maids waltzes into the lab. Privacy and security my ass.
- And Baron’s assistant Otto proceeds to attempt to rape her. Or at least I thought he was going to rape her. He somehow managed to not only rip open her dress but her belly as well and her guts are hanging out. That’s some strong assistant.
- This film is a comedy masterpiece! So Dr. Frankenstein reanimated two “perfect” subjects one male and one female to copulate and reproduce a new perfect race. Only he seems to have used the asexual aspiring monk in the village to reanimate and wants no part of the female.
- I don’t think the Baron’s kids talk. They haven’t said a word at all in any scene they’re in.
- OK the Baron just said his sister so he is married to his sister! WTF!!!
- OK the boy said a word, at least.
- The Baroness is granted a romp with the male zombie and in taking her request to be held tight too literally he crushes her spine. That’s not the funny part. What’s funny was the foley sound effect of wood breaking and cracking while he’s crushing her. It was something out of an old cartoon.
- Great effect of the Baron’s hand getting severed by a metal door! Tons of sputtering blood. Then, to no one’s surprise, he fumbles trying to put it back on. Annoyed with his failure he blames Nicholas and throws his own severed hand at him. I think I love this film.
- “I’m not going to die in wayne!” So spake the immortal Udo Kier. Wow this death scene is awesomely retarded. It’s hysterically bad. This whole movie is a great farce. I’m still not sure if it was supposed to be a comedy or just a badly made horror movie.
- The Baron’s death scene is about 3 minutes long. He monologues on and on about how important he and his work is while a spike is impaled through his abdomen. Again, the over-the-top acting is on full display here as the main villain won’t shut up even as he’s mortally wounded. Hysterical.
- Sacha, the male zombie, could’ve at least helped Nicholas down before he killed himself. Now the kids have to do it and you know they’re going to struggle.
- Hahaha. The boy is cranking the crane that is holding up Nicholas up but instead of lowering him, he’s raising him. I guess the director didn’t want to correct the kid or something.
Is It Actually Scary: I won’t begrudge the film for lack of scares. Atmospherically, it looks great and creepy. For a film made in the 1970s it holds up well and even the dated look enhances the eeriness. I can’t say I was scared of anything in the film but it was gross and disturbing enough.
How Much Gore: Lots! Besides the aforementioned head severing, there was a lot of medical gore and people being disemboweled. Baron Frankenstein’s hand gets lopped off by a quick-closing metal door and he then gets skewered by a spike with some organ parts still at the point of the spike.
Best Scene: The Baron’s hilarious demise (death spoiler)
Worst Scene: There’s a ton of wincing to be done while watching this disturbing take on Frankenstein and not because of blood and guts. I had a very hard time watching Nicholas getting his armpits erotically licked by the Baroness.
Any Nudity: The gore to nudity ratio is basically 1:1. There’s even a few instances of full frontal and make nudity. It reminds me of Caligula (minus the hard-core sex) with the heightened eroticism and nudity in a classically told story.
Overall: Having seen about 3 dozen versions of Frankenstein, there’s only so much novel ideas to bring to the table. A simple, yet scary parable about playing god and messing around with science but leave it to Andy Warhol’s eccentric hand to give us this pornographic, gory and disturbing incarnation of Dr. Frankenstein. It’s so vulgar and disgusting to the original novel that I think it had to be made. There needed to be a X-rated (or NC-17) version eventually. There’s elements in this film that I’m assuming were done just for shock value. Almost like Warhol and director Paul Morrissey had a Mad-Libs type script of Frankenstein and for every scene decided to make it as lewd and crude as possible. Was there really a good reason to have the Baron married to his sister? NO, not at all but it’s there to push the envelope. Have we ever watched a Dr. Frankenstein on screen actually copulate with his female monster? Not before or since I’m sure. I applaud the fact that this film was made and that it also wasn’t made to take itself too seriously. I questioned if it was supposed to be made to be comedic and after watching the whole thing a second time I totally see that it was made to be distasteful, shocking and as a black comedy. If you’re a fan of gothic horror and of risqué cinema, then take a ride with Udo Kier and Andy Warhol.
Score: 8 slimy salamanders on a slippery tush (out of 10)