Out now on blu-ray through Kino Lorber, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (1972) is a real hoot, one of the wildest riffs on the Frankenstein legend and the best pairing of Frankenstein’s Monster and naked women since Kiss Me Quick!(1964). Filmed in Portugal, the movie is wonderfully evocative of those delirious European horror pulps of the 1960's and early-70's, whose cover art promised lurid adventures of monsters and sex. Jess Franco captures some stunning individual shots in The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, often using his favoured wide angle lens to create an even more disorienting and dream-like ambience. The movie is also an aural trip, the soundtrack full of jazzy drumrolls and complemented by the strange squawks with which blind bird woman Melissa (Anne Libert) communicates. Cast members include such Franco regulars as Howard Vernon and Denis Price (whom I always loved as the graverobber in Hammer’s Horror of Frankenstein), and of course the director himself shows up, playing Morpho the lab assistant.
The muscle-bound, silver/metallic blue-coloured Frankenstein Monster in the movie is an inspired creation...I’m tempted to customize one of my existing Frankenstein figures or kits to pay tribute to it.
At only 72 minutes, I was easily able to sit through the movie twice in a row, the second time listening to the audio commentary (from Video Watchdog editor Tim Lucas), which expounds a bit on the film’s roots in European pulp, and the controversy around Frankenstein’s Monster seeming to be partly mechanical (and tracing the roots of this idea back to the original Universal series of the 1930's).