Wednesday, May 16, 2018

lady gah gah!

A wee break from all that Spanish stuff I've been posting - what can I say? I get easily distracted.

Purchased this yonks ago as part of a 4 film DVD release alongside Grotesque, The Velvet Vampire and Time Walker.

That'll teach me to shop whilst drunk.

Anyway the lovely folk at Nucleus Films are releasing a fully restored, cleaned up and uncut version of it this year so thought I'd give the old one a final watch before I bin it in favour of theirs*.

Fickle? Me?

Lady Frankenstein (AKA Madame Frankenstein / Daughter of Frankenstein / La Figlia di Frankenstein. 1971).
Dir: Mel Welles.
Cast: Rosalba Neri, Joseph Cotten, Paul Müller, Peter Whiteman, Herbert Fux, Mickey Hargitay, Marino Masé AND Renate Kasché.

"I've been up all night with my husband. He's resting now."

Somewhere in deepest, darkest Europe sometime in the 1870s (or it could be the 1970s by the look of the sideburns) a terrifying trio of ghoulish grave robbers led by the evil Kenny Lynch (the brilliantly monikered Herbert Fux) are busy delivering a dead body (obviously) to Baron Brian Frankenstein (a scarily pissed up Cotten wearing so much foundation that he's beginning to resemble an Issac Asimov trilogy) and his camply pube haired assistant Dr. Marshall Cavendish (Famed rice maker, star of Nightmare Castle and father of Robert, Müller) for the purpose of their nefarious experiments.

So far so clichéd.

Yet still very, very comfy.

Does he now?

But it's not all re-animated corpses and pulsating pop bottle tho' as it seems that the good doctors daughter Tania (council estate Rachel Weiss, Neri) is coming to stay after recently graduating from scientist school.

Greeted upon her arrival by the visually stunning yet mentally impaired handyman cum Poundshop Udo Kier Thomas (Contamination's Lt. Tony Aris himself Masé) whose job it is to look after the ickle aminals that the Baron uses for his transplant experiments, Tania heads to her room to get changed into a new more exotic outfit.

Something she will do between every scene.

Seriously hair continuity alone must have been a nightmare.

Anyway, it transpires that all this animal husbandry is, in fact, a cover for the real experiments and Tania soon reveals to her dad that she has always know about his plan to create a creature entirely from dead bodies and is eager to help.

The Baron begrudgingly agrees before heading off to a hanging to celebrate.

It seems a sexy man is to be executed for crimes against fashion and Frankenstein can't wait to get his hands on his body.

Meanwhile local police Captain, Harris Tweed (Jayne Mansfield's ex and father of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Mariska, Hargitay - see? who says this blog isn't in depth?), is paying a visit to Lynch's house in order to warn him that he knows he's a bad man and just in case we hadn't realised this ourselves the director helpfully shows him drunkenly pawing a prostitute as he defiantly tells Harris to sod off.

The overwhelming smell of chives was just too much for Leslie Dixon.

Back at the main plot and the locals are busy cheering and jeering as the prisoner is transported to the gallows and not wanting to be accused of being lax at his job Harris arrives in order to hassle Lynch (again) about the amount of empty graves in the cemetery as well as to ogle Tania whilst imagining ski-ing down her milky white cleavage.

Or was it the other way round?

As night draws in Lynch and co. successfully steal the bad mans body and sneak it over to the Baron who alongside Marshall  manages to pop its brain into an already constructed body - and thanks to a handy electrical storm - re-animate it.

Unfortunately the lightning causes the bandages to catch fire leaving the poor sod with boss-eyes and a head that looks like a half-chewed caramel penis (Whiteman in what was unfortunately his only film role outside those super 8's he made with your gran).

"Shite in mah mooth ya undead bastard!"

As Marshall heads off to the cellar to fetch some booze to celebrate the creature stiffly rises from the operating table and grabs the Baron and hugs him to death (no really) before stomping off into the woods as Tania watches in horror from behind the laundry basket.

The next day Tania and Marshall decide - for some reason that escapes me -  to contact Captain Harris to say that a robber broke into the house and killed the Baron before stealing his prize pottery pig collection.

Maybe they're gonna put an insurance claim in?

Using his detective powers Harris deduces that from Marshall's description the police should be looking for a seven foot giant in a ladies blouse and with a head like a novelty condom.

Which say what you like about this movie that at least gives it the edge over The Bill.

As this is a classic of European cinema it's not too long before the screen is filled with a wee bit of tasteful (female) nudity as the creature comes across (not in a gooey off-white mess way obviously) a fairly unattractive couple having sex by a river.

Squashing the mans head the beast nimbly picks up the lady before tossing her into the water only to be found later by two fishermen who the creature then proceeds to kill.

Which is nice.

Remember when your girlfriend said she was going camping with her pals?

As the bodies keep piling up Harris is left no alternative but to shout at everyone whilst angrily stomping about in a nice cape as all the characters we've come to know and love (Lynch and his grave robbing pals) and some we've never met before (a farmer and his - way too young - wife) are all butchered by the bald-headed beast.

Back at the castle there's something else stirring as Tania goads Marshall into admitting that he loves her and would like to have some of 'the sex' with her.

Being a typical attractive lady she responds by saying that she'd allow him to put it in her if he had better hair and was about 20 years younger (tell me about it, it's almost like the director was copying parts of my life) but not to worry as she's found a solution.

You see it seems that Tania thinks Thomas is a bit of alright so persuades Marshall to help her kill the handyman so she can them place his brain in the Thomas' young studly body.

Sounds legit.

Marshall agrees so Tania seduces Thomas before suffocating him at the moment of climax.

Which if I'm honest isn't that bad a way to go.

Everything is going swimmingly until Thomas' sister Julia (Kasché whom you may remember as Zenzi in Kurt Nachmann's 1970 classic Naughty Knickers) arrives looking for him.

Tania says that he's gone on holiday to recover from the Barons death but Julia doesn't trust her so heads over to see Harris and after a good bitching session both decide that Tania is guilty.

Of what tho' neither are sure but it looks like Harris may be in with the chance of a shag so to hell with evidence.

Your mums cum me I know and so does your uncle peter.

Working from her fathers research and some hastily scribble lipstick notes written on the back of an old tampon packet and with time against her, Tania somehow manages to successfully transplants Marshall's brain into Thomas' body with little or no trouble at all and as a bonus Marshall now possesses super strength and the ability to speak with both his own and Thomas' voice, which will probably come in handy when Harris turns up in a minute to ask him about the robbery and if in fact it was committed by a monster him and the Baron had made in the basement.

Your mum and dads wedding photo.

Meanwhile (it's always meanwhile) the creature/beast/oh go on then Frankenstein's monster has finally arrived in town and is busying himself smashing everyones plant pots much to the towns-folks chagrin leaving them with only one option....

Torch Frankenstein's castle!

Which seeing as they have absolutely fuck all evidence that anything has happened there.

If anything the whole (over) reaction is based on nothing more than Julia saying she doesn't like Tania because she wears too much make-up.

Chasing the creature to the castle it is confronted by an axe-wielding  Marshall/Thomas/Thomshall and the pair engage in an almost homoerotically charged fight that culminates with the creature getting its arm chopped off and Tania stabbing the pair of them with a sword.

Dollar have let themselves go....

Marshall/Thomas/Thomshall although seeming a wee bit peeved at this decides to forgive Tania for sticking something in him and the pair strip naked and indulge in a sweaty bout of sexy stuff as the castle burns around them.

As Harris vainly tries to get the villagers to leave the burning castle Julia notices the glistening spunk encrusted form of her brother entwined around Tania like a bright pink fleshy snake violently thrusting his manroot into her freshly trimmed lady garden as an inferno rages around them, shouting his name she watches in horror (and it must be said slight arousal - or was that me?) as Marshall/Thomas/Thomshall slowly and methodically chokes Tania as the pair are engulfed by the flames.....

Although released in 1971, clinical psychologist, radio DJ, actor, writer and film director Mel Welles' Lady Frankenstein harks back to a simpler age coming across as a throwback to Roger Corman's 60s Poe output gleefully mixed with all the nudity and horror you'd expect from a Hammer film via the look of the best (and sometimes worst) Eurotrash classics of the time.

And that's no bad thing.

Whilst the plot - save for the slightly ahead of its time theme of female empowerment that was most likely accidental - is no great shakes and the make-up and effects border on the poundshop side of Halloween it's the performances that make the movie with Rosalba Neri** (credited here as Sara Bay) epitomizing everything we've come to know and love with regards to EuroHorror starlets.

Dusky, raven haired and with a touch of saucy sadomasochistic menace she dominates every scene (and every wardrobe change) in the movie and is worth the price of admission alone, the only person that comes close to matching her is the great Paul Müller, all crap-hair and poppy eyes coming across for all the world like a slightly fey, crack addled ferret/man hybrid made flesh.

Rosalba Neri- You would, I would, your granddad did. Twice.
 To be honest tho' it's a good job that the pair are so good as everyone else involved appears to be either drunk or sleeping - or in Joseph Cotten's case both - whilst rent-a-lunk Mickey Hargitay bravely stumbles about as if he's in a community centre production of Columbo where the entire cast has been dressed in market stall Elvis hand-me-downs whilst the sensational Herbert Fux makes us wonder why he didn't become a movie mega star or at the very least got to appear in panto, it takes a brave man to pull of skin-tight beige leggings and still look tough.

And if all that's not enough to convince you name another film where the supporting cast are so flimsy that you begin to notice the actors headwear?

Seriously at about the 30 minutes mark I realised that quite a few of the cast were sharing a green trilby, go watch it - it's true.

We then played a game of counting how many times and on how many different heads it appeared.

You try it too and write in with your results, there's a prize for the winner.

"I can see your house from here Peter!"

Despite - or because - of all that Lady Frankenstein is still a fantastically entertaining movie, at once a work of erotic genius with an added taste of nightmarish medical drama draped in comfy gothic trappings that are juxtaposed by an air of overall shoddiness that somehow adds to its charm and went some way to explaining why it became the biggest money-making female-based Frankenstein movie released in 1971.

Pre-order that BluRay now.

*Plus I'm hoping they used my artwork for it, cos it's rather good even if I say so myself.

**If you're interested in seeing more of her work may I recommend Ottavio Alessi's 1969 erotic thriller Top Sensation that not only features Ms Neri playing a bikini-clad nympho but also stars Edwige Fenech as a pervy prostitute.

You can thank me later.

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