Lady Frankenstein (1971)

Frankenstein fanboys need to know right from the start that Lady Frankenstein doesn’t ever operate on a monster in this flick. Sure she gets involved in some brain transplant scheme, but that’s just a swap with her old, crippled up loser husband and the dull-witted, yet hunky handy man. What Lady Frankenstein is more interested in is being a cut-rate update of the Frankenstein story that gives a nod to women’s lib supplemented with a meager dollop of gore and skin, but really is only memorable because of how goofy-looking the monster is.

He’s this tall lug dressed in a very unflattering brown outfit whose head is half disfigured (his face caught on fire during the lightning storm that gave him life) so that one of his eyes is just sticking out of a bunch of lumpy flesh. He also has some pointy thing sticking out of his head, but you’ll really get caught up in how the monster moves.

Sometimes he’s quick, sometimes lumbering, sometimes stumbling, sometimes limping, and sometimes he just looks like he’s styling and profiling. An inconsistent portrayal of the monster’s gait isn’t really the biggest handicap this movie suffers from. That would have to go to the bogus premise upon which everything hangs.

Joseph Cotten is hopefully growing his retirement nest egg in this one as Dr. Frankenstein because this probably isn’t the sort of prestige project you would have expected from a Orson Welles crony who snagged himself roles in Citizen Kane, The Third Man, and The Magnificent Ambersons.

So Franky is doing some experiments like Franky does and who comes home from college after never writing or calling, but his daughter Tania! Lady Frankenstein, like her daddy, is now a doctor and while a movie about Lady Frankenstein partying at college would definitely be worth a look, we’re stuck with her post-grad career.

Apparently, even though she was really great in med school, she doesn’t have a job so she spends her time at the castle sneaking into daddy’s secret lab where she discovers that he’s working on creating human life. That’s a pretty good deal for her because playing God was her major in college!

Her dad though doesn’t want her around when they try to kickstart the creature to life, so he sends her to bed and then he and his assistant, Dr. Marshall, wait until there’s a lightning storm.

Once the Monster comes to life, Marshall goes to tell Tania and when they return to the lab, Frankenstein is dead on the floor, a victim of a rather boring bear hug from the Monster.

While Marshall wants to tell the authorities what happened, Tania realizes that this movie needs one of those plot twists that defy logic and announces that they will say a robber or something came in and killed daddy!

Her plan is to make sure her father’s reputation is unsullied by creating her own creature to destroy the rampaging one her father just created!

Tania needs a brain (for her monster, not herself, but I could see why you might make that mistake) so she goes off to one of those dudes that her dad always bought bodies off of and he offers to procure one for her if she’ll let him jump her bones. She politely declines, then whines about it to Dr. Marshall who promptly confesses his secret love for her. She’s not exactly sold on a relationship with him, but she does offer him a way that he would have a shot with her.

He just has to let her transplant his brain into the body of the young and studly moron named Thomas! In the movie’s most surprising turn of events, the operation goes off without a hitch!

Marshall’s brain gets put into Thomas’ body and everything is as good as new. Except that it’s about this time that Thomas’ sister shows up looking for him!

In spite of the movie’s half-hearted attempts to update the story with some flesh, blood, and a woman in charge of things, in the end Lady Frankenstein relies on that old chestnut that all of us horror movie fans look forward to at the conclusion of every Frankenstein movie: an angry mob of villagers storming the castle with torches!

The movie is one of those ugly 1970s horror movies that for some reason doesn’t lather on the sex and gratuitous violence like you would expect (and which truth be told would be its only saving grace), preferring instead to feature lots of scenes where people talk about stuff you don’t really care about.

Mickey Hargitay is utterly wasted in the role of the cop who smells something fishy. He’s given some of the movie’s worst dialogue and those hoping for something along the lines of his over-the-top performance as the Crimson Executioner in Bloody Pit of Horror, are rewarded with a single line where he tells the body snatcher, “you’re an ugly man.”

Ultimately though, the movie fails because the story itself is so utterly moronic. Really, would anyone other than a Frankenstein ever think that creating another creature to defeat one that is already on the loose and killing townspeople would somehow make their family look good?

© 2016 MonsterHunter

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