Flesh for Frankenstein  (1973) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes in white

"To know death, Otto, you have to fuck life in the gall bladder."

So says Dr. Frankenstein to his assistant, as he is ... er ... fucking his female monster in the gall bladder. You see, he is creating a perfect female monster, and a perfect male monster, so he can breed them and create a master race which is loyal only to him. Then he will rule the world. Muahahahaha. But when you think about it, what good is it to create a perfect female if you can't have a little fun with her gall bladder now and then?

You may have realized by now that this is Paul Morrissey's high camp masterpiece formerly known as "Andy Warhol's Frankenstein," although Andy didn't make much of a contribution other than his name. It's really a highly stylized Italian splatter comedy, I suppose. To be honest, I have to confess that I don't know whether Morrissey was deliberately trying to make a very bad movie which would work as a high camp spoof, or whether he was really trying to do his best to create something new and daring. It can be argued that he was trying to make a good movie, not an entertainingly bad one, based on the following:

1. The set design is quite elaborate. The film's aesthetic may not be to everyone's taste, but the film does have an aesthetic, and it seems to have been crafted quite meticulously.

2. The basic plot line is coherent and fairly interesting. Frankenstein needs a sexual giant to father his master race, so he hangs around outside a brothel and tries to capture the alpha male. Unfortunately, he accidentally captures the alpha male's asexual friend, who was coerced into trying the brothel and showed no interest at all in the women. This leads to a situation where he can't get the master race off the starting block because his race's Adam is uninterested in Eve.

3. The rest of Morrissey's career and his commentary on the DVD show no strong indication that he had a wacky strain of humor or a campy sense of so-bad-its-good. By the way, Paul Morrissey is eleven years older than I, but otherwise has the same undergraduate credentials (or lack thereof) - a degree in English literature from Fordham University.

4. Some of the most hilarious components of the film, like the casting of Udo Kier and Joe D'Allesandro, were decisions which Morrissey would repeat again and again in other films that were not intended to be funny.

So did Morrissey know he was making an outlandish comedy?

I'm just not sure. Those elements are balanced against the fact that other elements of the film were obviously presented with the filmmakers' tongues deep in their cheeks. For example, the gall bladder line above, or the fact that the German Frankenstein is trying to create a master race - of Serbians! Aha! The famous Serbian racial theory!

The casting question is the main thing that puzzles me. For example, Joe D'Allesandro is playing a peasant somewhere in Europe in some previous century, yet Joe makes no effort to disguise his strong New York accent, although he is surrounded by people speaking with Germanic or vaguely Germanic rhythms. He delivers every line with the same emotionless monotone one would hear from 8th grade slow learners reading out loud. Furthermore, Joe made no effort to look like a peasant from another time. He wore a 20th century haircut, and was consistently perfectly shaved, as you can see below.

I have joked before about certain actors who have only a single facial expression, but in Joe's case that is no joke. I took scores of captures from this film when I was making collages for a contribution to dudes.org, and I couldn't tell them apart. I kept looking at fresh ones and feeling that I had already seen them. It's because they all looked exactly alike.

When I form the collages I try to get shots as little alike as possible, in order to show a complete range of the character's appearance in the film. To the right is a sample of Joe's final collage. Note the stark contrast between the two images!

By the way, the funniest thing about those two pictures is not apparent to you unless you've seen the film. They are the "before" and "after" pictures. In the one on the left Joe is an unwashed stable-boy. In the one on the right he has been forced to clean up dramatically to perform as the Baroness's designated stud! Wow, talk about Pygmalion! Well, c'mon. He was wearing a much nicer shirt and vest!

Joe is, of course, the worst actor in the film, but only because he would be the worst actor in any film, including The Wrath of Khan and My Tutor. He just barely edged out some of the other contenders in this film. Monique van Vooren seems to have been reading her lines from cue cards, and not very well, at that, a problem exacerbated by Morrissey's apparent allergy to re-takes. On the other hand, Monique's line delivery seems to be of Streep-like quality compared to Udo Kier's. Udo is really one of a kind, isn't he? He has now been in something like 150 films. I must have seen 30 of them ranging from this to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and I have yet to hear him deliver a line which sounds as if spoken by an actual human being. And as bad as he is now, having had several decades to work on his pronunciation and comprehension of English, you can barely imagine how he was in 1973 when he had about the same mastery of English that I have of Mandarin. It would have been odd enough to see him in 1973 in one of those one-line or two-line bit parts that he always seems to have, but in this film he is on camera constantly, and is required to deliver long monologues. In his best moments, he mangles words with an impenetrable accent. In his worst moments he screeches and squawks frantically in some hybrid language of his own and it's pretty clear that he has no damned idea what the English syllables actually mean. Of course, all of that would matter if he were to act in an Oscar Wilde play, but the role of Dr. Frankenstein is the epitome of high camp, the drawing room equivalent to Doc Holliday, Snidely Whiplash, or Long John Silver, so there's really no way to overact it. In my opinion, one really must consider Udo's performance a success, in the same sense that Stallone was brilliant as Rocky Balboa. In both cases, the time and the man met.

The film was originally made to be seen in 3-D, so watching it on video can seem like a surreal experience. An important part of the film's unique aesthetic was produced as a matter of adaptation to the 3-D process, illustrating perfectly how necessity breeds invention. Statues and cabinets and scientific equipment that would normally be placed near a wall are stuck in the middle of a room, simply because that is what is needed to produce the optimal 3-D effect. Elongated objects are inevitably not-quite-parallel to the camera eye, the classic example being a scene in which the mad Doctor F. delivers a long soliloquy to the camera while impaled on a pike, the end of which is thrust right into the camera - with his internal organs hanging from it. Bats fly toward the camera, lungs inflate and deflate in close-up, and the actors are constantly thrusting various objects into the foreground in order to produce that scary 3D effect.

Of course, without the 3D, it's like watching John Candy do one of his Dr. Tongue movies so Count Floyd can sell the 3D glasses.


Leonard Maltin gave this film his no star BOMB. I think that Leonard must be an overly serious man, and somewhat unacquainted with the worthwhile powers of mind-altering substances. Of course the film stinks, but that is such a humorless way to view it. Some elements of the film were designed to stink, others stink because the set design was improvised for 3-D effects, and still others  ... well, let's just say director Paul Morrissey had a penchant for stinkiness in general, and that this propensity was exacerbated by the fact that he had no idea how to create a European period piece. In the final analysis it simply doesn't matter whether Morrissey was making a comedy, or whether he chose Kier and D'Allesandro in a deliberate attempt to elicit the two worst performances in the history of the planet. The fact of the matter is that he did cast them, with hilarious results. Overall, Flesh for Frankenstein is a strange, over-the-top film that will just have you hooting and howling throughout - if you approach it in the right frame of mind. If you have a chance to see it in 3-D, by all means do so, but don't forget to take along a few doobies and some like-minded friends, because this film is an absolute par-tay!



  • No features except the original theatrical trailer
  • Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1, fully remastered into a high definition transfer supervised by the director.
  • Full-length commentary by the director, Udo Kier, and a film critic (original Criterion commentary)
  • Very large gallery of stills, presented with commentary by director Morrissey
  • One of the audition tapes for a minor role


  • Monique van Vooren as the Baroness showed her breasts and a brief flash of her pubes.

  • Dalila Di Lazzaro as the female monster was naked throughout the movie except for a bandage shaped like a g-string. Her pubes were exposed once.

  • Rosita Torosh, Imelde Marini, and Fiorella Maselli all showed their breasts as three hookers. Torosh also did a full frontal scene.

  • Joe D'Allesandro showed all of the goods.

  • Srdjan Zelenovic walked around in a diaper for much of the film, and it was pulled down very briefly to expose his penis, but the camera was far from him.

Tuna's notes in yellow

Flesh for Frankenstein (1974), is also known as Andy Warhol's Flesh for Frankenstein, although Warhol had little or nothing to do with it, other than possibly some small payment for the use of his name. This film is actually a combination of the Italian style of gore-fests with teh American style of soft-porn titty flicks.

Dr. Frankenstein has decided to create a master race. He already has constructed the perfect woman, and needs a few more choice parts to make the perfect man. Since his goal is to mate his two creations, he realizes that he needs the head of a voracious womanizer, so he waits outside the local brothel to capture and decapitate a sure thing. Since Murphy's law even applies to mad scientists, he ends up with the head of the randy guy's asexual friend. Meanwhile, The Baron's wife/sister hires the real randy guy as her house-boy, whose duties are all performed horizontally.

It is worth a watch as an exploitation film. It has enough nudity and simulated sex that it actually got an X rating, although the director claims that he made the sex scenes humorous because he doesn't think sex belongs on the screen. The set decoration was amazing, especially the lab, the effects makeup was top-notch.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Maltin 0/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.3 
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C+, an unforgettable high-camp masterpiece, so bad that it is not just good but mah-velous!

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