Andy Warhol's Frankenstein
|Andy Warhol's Frankenstein|
Original release poster
|Directed by||Paul Morrissey|
|Produced by||Andy Warhol
|Written by||Paul Morrissey
by Mary Shelley (uncredited)
Monique van Vooren
|Music by||Claudio Gizzi|
|Edited by||Franco Silvi
|Distributed by||Bryanston Distributing|
|Running time||95 minutes|
|Box office||$7 million (US)|
Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (originally Flesh for Frankenstein) is a 1973 Italian-French 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. Interiors were filmed at Cinecittà in Rome by a crew of Italian filmmakers.
In the United States, the film was marketed as Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, and was presented in the Space-Vision 3D process in premiere engagements. It was rated X by the MPAA, due to its explicit sexuality and violence. A 3-D version also played in Australia in 1986, along with Blood for Dracula, its obvious pairing. In the '70s, a 3-D version played in Stockholm, Sweden and in London, England. In subsequent US DVD releases, the film was retitled Flesh for Frankenstein, while the original title was used in other regions.
The gruesomeness of the action was intensified in the original release by the use of 3-D, with several dismbowelments 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 utilizes 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; he also repeatedly exhibits an intense interest that the creature's "nasum" (nose) have a correctly Serbian shape.
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. Not knowing these behind-the-scene details, Nicholas survives and is summoned by Katrin to the castle, where they form an agreement that he will gratify her unsatisfied carnal appetites.
Under the control of the doctor, the male and female creatures are seated for dinner with the castle's residents, but the male creature shows no signs of recognition of his friend as he serves the Baron and his family. Nicholas realizes at this point that something is awry, but himself pretends not to recognize his friend's face until he can investigate further. After a falling-out with Katrin, who is merely concerned with her own needs, Nicholas goes snooping in the laboratory and is captured by the doctor. Frankenstein muses about using his new acquisition to replace the head of his creature, who is still showing no signs of libido. Nevertheless, Katrin is rewarded for betraying Nicholas by being granted use of the creature for erotic purposes, but is killed during a bout of overly vigorous copulation.
Meanwhile, Otto repeats the doctor's sexual exploits with the female creature, resulting in her graphic disembowelment. The Baron returns and, enraged, does away with Otto. When he attempts to have the male creature eliminate Nicholas, however, the remnants of his friend's personality rebel and the doctor is killed in gruesome fashion. The creature, believing he is better off dead, then disembowels himself. The doctor's children, Erik and Monica, then enter the laboratory, pick up a pair of scalpels, and proceed to turn the wheel of the crane that is holding the farmhand in mid-air. It is not clear if the scalpels are there in order to release him, or take over where their father left off.
- 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
While some Italian prints reportedly give second unit director Antonio Margheriti credit as director of the film, Udo Kier has stated that Margheriti had nothing to do with directing the film. Kier stated that he and the other cast members received direction only from Morrissey, and noted that he never saw Margheriti on the set.
As a favor for producer Carlo Ponti, Margheriti agreed to take credits for free as director for the Italian release in order to help the film get funds from the government. Unfortunately, it ended up as a trial for producer and alleged director who both lost.
The film was later cut to 93 minutes for an R-rating, thereby increasing its viability for wider distribution. It was this version which was distributed for a 3-D re-release during the 3-D craze of the 1980s. The U.S. DVD releases have utilized the full uncut version, which is now unrated. The film had its television premiere in the United Kingdom on November 17, 2009 and was broadcast in 3D as part of Channel 4's 3D Week.
Ian Jane of DVD Talk said of the film, "Flesh For Frankenstein is a morbid and grotesque comedy that won't be to everyone's taste but that does deliver some interesting humor and horror in that oddball way that Morrissey has."
Nora Sayre of The New York Times said, "In a muddy way, the movie attempts to instruct us about the universal insensitivity, living-deadness and the inability to be turned on by anything 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."
J.C. Maçek III of WorldsGreatestCritic.com wrote, "There is a brilliance to the satire here and a certain way that Morrissey has with the camera eye and framing that allows for the lavishness of the countryside and even the castle and laboratory interiors to look incredible. On the other hand, one must be in on the joke to get much more enjoyment out of Flesh for Frankenstein. I get the joke, I'm a Warhol fan. I understand. But there's no way to make this into a "great" film. If the implied nastiness of the psycho-sexuality here doesn't get you the incessant gore will, especially when the two are combined. If neither one gets to you at all, even when combined, then you might want to consult a shrink. That's, um... not what gallbladders are for, there, Sparky!"
- Exclusive Interview with Composer Claudio Gizzi
- "FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN (X)". British Board of Film Classification. 1975-01-08. Retrieved 2012-08-25. Submitted runtime: 94:47
- Marx, Rebecca Flint. "Flesh For Frankenstein". Allmovie. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
- "Flesh for Frankenstein". British Film Institute. London. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
- 'That'll Be the Day' Having Its Day Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 Nov 1974: a10
- DVD Verdict
- Kier, Udo. Video Watchdog Special Edition # 2, 1995. "Udo Kier: Andy Warhol's Horror Star": Interview with Kier
- Ian Jane. "Flesh for Frankenstein". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
- Nora Sayre (1974-05-16). "Flesh for Frankenstein". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
- J.C. Maçek III. "Flesh for Frankenstein". WorldsGreatestCritic.com. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
- Andy Warhol's Frankenstein at Rotten Tomatoes
- Andy Warhol's Frankenstein at the Internet Movie Database
- Andy Warhol's Frankenstein at AllMovie
- Andy Warhol's Frankenstein at Rotten Tomatoes
- Criterion Collection essay by Maurice Yacowar