A “lonely castle” is the suitably atmospheric setting of this horror themed 8mm glamour film from the late 1960s. The lonely castle is home to an equally lonely hunchback, who looks as if he has stumbled in from the set of an Andy Milligan film. In a desperate bid for some female company the hunchback has knocked together a nude woman in his laboratory. After a quick blast of electricity Miss Frankenstein (Lisa Brent) is brought to life, only adhering to horror film lore the attractive female creation wants nothing to do with her unattractive creator. Strolling around the lab in the nude, its not long before Miss Frankenstein gets the hump with her hunchbacked love interest. Spurning his advances she instead resorts to the drastic measure of drinking a potion that turns her into a zombie!! A decision that means the hunchback is in for a night of terror rather than titillation as Miss Frankenstein – now sporting the appearance of a skull faced corpse – pursues him around the lab.
According to the enigmatic 8mm film collector and archivist “Muswell”, Miss Frankenstein R. I. P. was the work of an East London outfit calling themselves “Collectors Club”, who distributed 8mm copies of classic silent movies as well as producing a number of glamour films in the late 60s and 1970s. The filmmakers’ tenuous connection to mainstream cinema may explain why Miss Frankenstein’s cinematic aspirations go beyond the simple filmed striptease content of many 8mm glamour films. Were you to approach Miss Frankenstein blind you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching an amateur, fan made horror short that had had some female nudity grafted onto it, to ensure the film an audience beyond living room screenings for the director’s friends and family. Considering that Miss Frankenstein was in fact a commercial sexploitation venture, whose horror elements were merely an indulgence, the filmmakers make an honorable – if somewhat cash strapped – attempt at shoehorning a homage to horror cinema of yore into the 8mm glamour format. The use of traditional horror film iconography, the gothic castle, the idiot hunchback, the skull-faced apparition etc, suggesting a particular allegiance to the silent and Universal eras of the fright film.
The only notably phony element is the Mad Doctor equipment used to bring Miss Frankenstein back to life, which includes what is obviously two plastic bottles painted black and a sparkler, meaning that Miss Frankenstein comes to life with more of a whimper than a bang.
As for Miss Frankenstein herself, Lisa Brent makes for quite an eye opening sight both in her undressed state and as a skull faced corpse. In both guises Brent manages to expose more flesh than the average glamour model of the period (if you were to try and date the film in terms of nudity, the full frontal shots of Ms. Brent would suggest we’re talking the late sixties here, given that glamour films made in the earlier 1960s tended to shy away from full disclosure). For all the naked flesh on display, ultimately Brent’s not-unappealing nudity ends up playing second fiddle to the horror film antics. An approach that makes the film differ from the outputs of say Russell Gay (Bloodlust) or Harrison Marks, whose glamour photographer’s eyes always lead them to emphasize their nude female subjects first and foremost – no matter what crazy spectacle they’d chosen to parachute them into.
Harrison Marks would himself venture into similar territory to Miss Frankenstein with his 1973 short Dolly Mixture, a far more explicit production that also has its own horny hunchback and a nude female creation. If anything though Miss Frankenstein has more in common with the 8mm glamour film work of Arthur Howell whose vehicles for his partner June Palmer like the sci-fi themed June in Orbit and the oater Calamity June often get similarly carried away with their elaborate film homages, to the degree that its easy to forget the nudity in those films were there real raison d’etre.
Gavin Whitaker – originally posted on Gavcrimson Blogspot
NB. Miss Frankenstein R.I.P. was shot in West Hampstead’s Sarum Chase. This neo-Tudor mansion was also the 7 June 1968 setting for a photoshoot for The Rolling Stones, for their Beggars Banquet album. Salum Chase was also used for some of American auteur Andy Milligan’s London-based movies such as The Body Beneath and the deliriously titled The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here!