Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This week: Stoked for that probable genre masterpiece, I, Frankenstein? To tide you over, we’ve lined up a week of similarly… unconventional Frankenstein movies.
Flesh For Frankenstein (1973)
“You’re a sex maniac!” screams Baron Von Frankenstein (Udo Kier) to his wife Katrin (Monique Van Vooren) in Paul Morrissey and Andy Warhol’s Flesh For Frankenstein. It’s an amusing line, given that everyone in this psychosexual hothouse of a horror satire is controlled by his or her raging libido. Originally shot in 3-D and given an X-rating by the MPAA, Morrissey’s 1973 cult classic (co-written by Amarcord scribe Tonino Guerra, whose work went uncredited) twists Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein fable into a gooey, gory stew of hetero- and homoerotic hysteria. The plot is driven by Frankenstein’s search for a horndog brain for his male “zombie” monster, whom he needs to be a constantly erect stud in order to mate with a female “zombie,” and thus give birth to a new race under the Doctor’s control. That plan, however, goes haywire when Frankenstein selects for his experiment Sacha (Srdjan Zelenovic), who has the perfect “Serbian” nose the mad scientist seeks for his creation, but not the carnal impulses, as Sacha wants to become a monk and—at a brothel with a gigolo stable boy (Joe Dallesandro)—exposes his true, same-sex interests by spending most of his time staring at his male friend’s naked behind.
From the lizard crawling on Dallesandro’s unclothed derriere to a phallic spear being driven through a man’s lower torso, Flesh For Frankenstein is bursting with gruesome and ridiculous sexual symbolism. Intercourse proves violent, while understanding and controlling desire turns out to be a doomed proposition. Much of Flesh For Frankenstein’s humor comes from the way in which Morrissey and Warhol warp traditional Frankenstein tropes into something gleefully deviant. That this madness takes place in castle bedrooms and laboratories that seem to have been modeled after Hammer Horror sets just makes the material’s tongue-in-cheek comedy even crazier. Yet nothing, ultimately, is funnier than Kier himself, oozing sweaty lasciviousness and unhinged lunacy, while delivering priceless lines like, “To know death, Otto, you have to fuck life in the gallbladder.”
Availability: Flesh For Frankenstein is available on DVD, which can be obtained through Netflix.