Flesh for Frankenstein is a 1973 American-Italian horror film directed by Paul Morrissey and produced by Andy Warhol, Andrew Braunsberg, Louis Peraino, and Carlo Ponti. It stars Udo Kier, Joe Dallesandro, Monique van Vooren and Arno Juerging.
In the United States, the film was initially marketed by Bryanston Pictures as Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein, and was presented in the Space-Vision 3-D process in premiere engagements. It was rated ‘X’ by the MPAA, due to its explicit sexuality and violence.
The gruesomeness of the action was intensified in the original release by the use of 3-D, with disemboweling scenes being shot from a perspective such that the internal organs are thrust towards the camera.
Baron von Frankenstein neglects his duties towards his wife/sister Katrin, as he is obsessed with creating a perfect Serbian race to obey his commands, beginning by assembling a perfect male and female from parts of corpses.
The doctor’s sublimation of his sexual urges by his powerful urge for domination is shown when he utilises the surgical wounds of his female creation to satisfy his lust. He is dissatisfied with the inadequate reproductive urges of his current male creation, and seeks a head donor with a greater libido.
As it happens, a suitably randy farmhand, Nicholas, leaving a local brothel along with his sexually repressed friend, brought there in an unsuccessful attempt to dissuade him from entering a monastery, are spotted and waylaid by the doctor and his henchman, Otto; mistakenly assuming that the prospective monk is also suitable for stud duty, they take his head for use on the male creature…
“In a muddy way, the movie attempts to instruct us about the universal insensitivity, living-deadness and the inabilty to be turned on by anythng short of the grotesque. However, this “Frankenstein” drags as much as it camps; “despite a few amusing moments, it fails as a spoof, and the result is only a coy binge in degradation.” Nora Sayre, The New York Times, May 16, 1974
“It feels like the angle aimed at here was Greek tragedy – but what we get is broad farce bordering on Carry On silliness at times. Kier was a hoot in Dracula, for instance, but overdoes the campiness way too much this time around. Having said that, it’s still an accomplished film on many levels and it benefits from wonderful cinematography, coupled with amazing locations. The costumes, the interior decor of the old castle, it’s all beautiful to behold.” Stu Willis, Sex Gore Mutants
“While some of the gore effects are so obviously fake that it becomes laughable (which may or may not have been the point in the first place), a few others are downright grisly and quite disturbing by their very nature (best exemplified by Otto’s scar licking scene and the many shots of hands holding entrails down in the laboratory).” Ian Jane, DVD Talk
“Udo Kier is a tad restrained as Baron Frankenstein, but is still gloriously over-the-top during several show-stopping scenes: the aforementioned corpse f*ck (“To know death, you must f*ck life in the gall bladder!”), his crazed speech about how the Serbian race has the perfect nose, his wide-eyed decapitation of a Serbian man with a bizarre contraption, his severe protection of his mother!” Casey Scott, DVD Drive-In
Cast and characters:
- Joe Dallesandro – Nicholas, the stableboy
- Udo Kier – Baron von Frankenstein
- Monique van Vooren – Baroness Katrin Frankenstein
- Arno Juerging – Otto, the Baron’s assistant
- Dalila Di Lazzaro – Female Monster
- Srdjan Zelenovic – Sacha / Male Monster
- Marco Liofredi – Erik, the Baron’s son
- Nicoletta Elmi – Monica, the Baron’s daughter
- Liù Bosisio – Olga, the maid
- Cristina Gaioni – Farmer, Nicholas’ girlfriend
- Rosita Torosh – Sonia, the prostitute
- Carla Mancini – Farmer
- Fiorella Masselli – Large prostitute
- Imelde Marani – Blonde prostitute
- Miomir Aleksic [uncredited] – Other male monster
We are grateful to Westgate Gallery for the Australian poster