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July 09, 2015

The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein

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Jesus Franco - 1972
Redemption Films BD Region A

Maybe I'm reading a little too much into this, but while watching The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, it occurred to me that the tuft of a goatee that the normally clean-shaven Howard Vernon sports in this film looks a bit like the the pubic hair on the women, lovingly photographed here, especially Britt Nichols. I can only say that I've seen enough films from Jesus Franco to know that the guy has a certain fascination for full frontal female foliage.

This is one of those Franco films that those less familiar with the filmmaker might use as an argument regarding the prolific Spaniard's abilities behind the camera. And there are moments when on a technical level, so-called good filmmaking yields to the demands of a short schedule and shorter money. And yet, even before I gave Tim Lucas the chance to explain everything and more regarding Franco and this film, I started to think that whether intended or not, maybe The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein might be closer in spirit to the kind of pastiche/homage/parodies of the Kuchar Brothers, then something from the House of Hammer.

What Lucas' commentary does is put the whole shebang into the context primarily of European comics made for adults, the most famous of which is probably Barbarella. Lucas also mentions the inspiration of the early novels of Jean-Claude Carriere, writing under the pseudonym of Benoit Becker. There is also the inspiration from the classic Universal Frankenstein series, with part of the plot taking The Bride of Frankenstein to its logical conclusion. The viewer is also assured that the French version that is presented here is the version closest to the film Franco intended.

We've got Dennis Price as Victor Frankenstein and Jesus Franco as his assistant, giving the monster the power of speech. The monster is kidnapped by Cagliostro, accompanied by his creation, a blind, vampiric bird-woman who screeches as much as she talks. Vera Frankenstein brings Dad back from the dead to find out what happened to his creation. Cagliostro hopes to mate the monster with his own female creation, made from parts of several beautiful women, with the goal of creating some kind of master race. This is not Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, but something closer to The House of Frankenstein, a monster rally, updated to include an abundance of nudity.

As Tim Lucas makes clear, Jesus Franco never intended this film to be taken seriously. The most horrifying part of The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein is seeing the toll of alcoholism on Dennis Price, almost twenty years after his acclaimed appearance in Kind Hearts and Coronets. Franco's frequently used composer, Daniel White, appears here as a police detective. The English language soundtrack has Howard Vernon dubbing his own voice.

Another appreciation for this film, from the previous home video version, can be found from Kimberly Lindbergs.

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Posted by peter at July 9, 2015 08:50 AM