Lady Frankenstein delivers everything you could possibly want from a b Frankenstein flick. Bad makeup effects, corny period costumes, gothic sets, gratuitous nudity . . . this phenomena oozes through the wonderfully grainy 35mm patina.

Directed by Mel Welles (who played Mr. Mushnick in the original Little Shop of Horrors), Lady Frankenstein is a radically different Frankenstein movie. Just when you think you’ve seen what it’s throwing at you, it veers sharply off course.

Dr. Frankenstein, played by a presumable hard-up-for-cash Joseph Cotten (The Third ManShadow of a Doubt), is, you guessed it, experimenting with the reanimation of dead tissue. With the help of Dr. Charles Marshall, played by Paul Muller (you may remember him as the doctor in Vampyros Lesbos), Frankenstein brings a dead body back to life, creating a dangerous monster.

No surprise there, but things turn to uncharted narrative territory, as the monster kills Dr. Frankenstein seconds after its reanimation. Meanwhile, Frankenstein’s daughter Tania has come to visit her father. Tania, played by beautiful b-movie babe Rosalba Neri, has a morbid fascination with death, and she is as determined as her father to make her mark on the world of dubious medical experimentation. The apple never falls far from the tree, does it?
While the monster her father created roams around wreaking havoc (most its violent outbursts are directed toward fornicating couples), she decides she’s in love with Dr. Charles Marshall. Well, not quite. She’s in love with his mind, but not his body. She’s in love with the body of a man named Thomas, but not his mind. Thomas is developmentally disabled. Tania convinces Dr. Charles to let her put his brain in Thomas’s body. She is, indeed, so seductive a seductress she can convince a man to kill for her and have his brain transplanted to the dead body he is responsible for. Now, that’s seduction.

Can Lady Frankenstein realize her strange and lustful desires, or will the angry mob of villagers, outraged by the deaths her father’s monster has caused, stop her dead in her tracks?

You can see, plot wise, Lady Frankenstein ain’t your everyday Frankenstein story. It also distinguishes itself in other ways, with other details. In this Frankenstein story, the monster gets his face singed by the lightning, leaving him to look like a deformed Dom DeLuise. In this Frankenstein story, the monster is so powerful that all he has to do is hug someone, and blood spills from their mouth and they die instantaneously. In this Frankenstein story, the monster runs around in striped, mod rocker pants.


Lady Frankenstein is recommended to everyone who likes movies with clumsy, jarring cuts—people who enjoy a little charming sloppiness (the overdubbed dialogue has its moments, like when Rosalba Neri is talking, but her mouth isn’t moving). It’s recommended to those who like their Frankenstein flicks a little erotic (eat your heart out Andy Warhol) and for them to have a trippy, would-be avant garde musical score. Do you like movies where the fake blood looks like Ketchup, sometimes cocktail sauce? You better not miss this one.

Overall, Lady Frankenstein is pure, messy b-movie accidental greatness. And the best part . . . it’s public domain. Watch it right here!

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