Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks (1974)

frankensteins-castle-of-freaksRight away you know this movie is going to be one of those ugly, dirty, and cheap 1970s flicks where the special effects consist of junk just half-assed glued to somebody’s head. In fact, I thought I was watching the wrong movie at the beginning when things just kind of fired up with a bunch of people attacking a caveman. They were supposed to be villagers from a few hundred years back, but during one such attack I saw a guy wearing a pair of blue jeans and a button down work shirt, like he’d just got off work at the meat packing plant and decided to stop off in the woods to help some fellow townspeople beat up Neanderthals.

These guys were thumping the caveman pretty good and eventually get the best of him by bashing him over the head with a rock several times. Then the titles come up and I relax because this is in fact Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks. Rossano Brazzi (South Pacific, The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t) stars as Count Frankenstein (I always thought it was Count Dracula and Baron Von Frankenstein) and he comes off throughout the movie like a gone-to-seed Ricardo Montalbon looking to parlay his job as mad scientist into getting some nookie from the sexy friend that his daughter brought home.

Of course, the movie isn’t really his, so much as it belongs to the character of Genz. Genz is played by Michael Dunn (The Murders in the Rue Morgue) whose chief acting talent was that he was a dwarf. Genz and some of Frankenstein’s other employees are robbing a grave and Genz sees that the corpse is of a recently deceased babe and he gets this look in his eye that says he likes his gals with a little rigor mortis and the other guys have to tell him not to do anything because Frankenstein doesn’t want her all cruddied-up with dwarf cooties!

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Once back at the castle Frankenstein takes a look at the corpse and immediately asks who touched her. If you are under three feet tall, please raise your hand! Eventually, Genz gets himself fired by Frankenstein and Hans the butler takes great pleasure in throwing Genz out and telling him what an awful little person he is.

In the meantime, Frankenstein’s daughter and her friend Krista come back to the castle for a vacation. Krista is the sort who likes to take milk bathes and so she and the Frankenstein girl go off to the old, deserted caves to take a gratuitous dip in the hot springs. They also decide to rub mud on one another, but don’t let that trick you into watching the movie. Perhaps not surprisingly, Genz is hiding behind a rock peeping them.

For his part, Genz has rebounded from his recent dismissal from Frankenstein’s employ and has teamed up with a caveman he found. Genz tells the caveman that since he doesn’t know his name he will call him Ook. Genz decides that Ook will be perfect in his scheme to take revenge on the Count for firing his ass. I think I smell some caveman-inspired workplace violence brewing!

The Count though has his own caveman with the much less catchy name of Goliath! He’s the caveman that we saw getting gang stomped in the opening credits and was rescued by Frankenstein and taken to the castle so that he could be revived.

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Back at the castle, the Count keeps hitting on Krista and actually pretends to conduct some experiments as a way to fondle her. They’re in the secret lab with Goliath, who’s strapped down and he tells her that Goliath responds well to her and that he wants to see if Goliath is protective of her when he kisses her! And when he shakes her! And when he lays her down to make sweet love to her!

Not to be outdone, Genz and Ook kidnap a woman and drag her off to their secret cave where Genz explains to a confused Ook, that first you rape them, then you kill them. Genz and Ook do their thing and the girl’s mangled body is found next morning.

This is a Frankenstein movie so you’re probably wondering about angry mobs. Yes, periodically an angry mob of about eight friends of the producer show up and demand that something be done about Frankenstein, but they don’t do a whole lot until the very end of the movie. Don’t worry though, you’ll get your fill of mob justice before it’s all said and done.
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In a quest for revenge, Genz sneaks into the castle and wakes up Goliath. He convinces Goliath to follow him and along the way Goliath lays a beat down on several people and also chokes out Frankenstein. Eventually, Genz and Goliath go back to the cave where Genz tries to introduce Goliath to Ook in an effort to stimulate a friendship between the two. It doesn’t work out and Goliath kills Ook after a very lackluster fight. Genz tells Ook that he’s sorry and then the villagers appear and burn Goliath up.

If you’re trying to put a novel spin on the Frankenstein mythos that’s great, but are a couple of Neanderthals and a necrophiliac dwarf the way to go? Well, I guess when I put it like that, it does sound like a good idea.

In any event, the end result is a cheap-looking movie that has no scares, no surprises and all the attempts at trying something different with the Frankenstein story just make the film bad in a different way than regular bad Frankenstein films.

Of course it does deserve a look just to check out this perverted midget who walks like a duck and tried to bring two star-crossed cavemen together, only to fail, his dreams of world-domination by ruling an army of primitive men destroyed in an inferno of mob violence at the caves where sexy girls take mud bathes. Good lessons for us all.

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