Thursday, May 6, 2010

"The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein"(1972)d/Jess Franco

If you compiled the best ninety minutes of ALL of the films of Jesus Franco into one movie,chances are,you'd STILL have a steaming lump of fly-encompassed dogshit in your hands.Now,I've heard just about all the pro-Franco arguments,and honestly,they smell nearly as pungent as the guy's films themselves,though trying to justify the guy's glass eye behind the camera,the dull-edged tanto knife he no doubt uses to cut scenes,the fourteen bucks he usually spends on makeup effects,etc.,is probably a pretty entertaining stance to take,for someone who loves to argue,like myself.I just can't bring myself to be that guy.Everybody's got a favorite rotten director,and Franco seems to have hit a nerve within the hip film community,whereas,my top stops for cinematic poo involve other equally untalented gents.
There's two directions a Franco film usually takes.Sometimes,after enduring some of his fumbled film attempts,I find myself somehow entertained,and usually drying my eyes from a prolonged spell of laughing my ass off at the slop he's hurriedly slung together and disguised as a movie.In other instances,I find myself dozing off,my eyes strained from trying to focus on something...anything he's filmed,and tired of piecing the few lines of dialogue he's haphazardly cut the ends off of back together.Luckily,tonight's entry qualifies as the former.A low-budgeted hunk of crap,with little coherency,poor performances,lousy makeup,atrocious camerawork,and ridiculous story,all shot in and around the picturesque castles,gothic houses,and scenic landscapes of Portugal.It's a tremendous waste of time,and thus,a highly enjoyable Franco romp.
Baron Frankestein(Dennis Price)looks for his booze flask under the silver-painted disco variant of his monster(Fernando Bilbao).
Baron Frankenstein(Price),with the help of his hunchbacked assistant,Morpho(!)(Franco himself),has just electrically shocked his silver-disco monster(Bilbao)into speaking for the first time.The celebration is short-lived,however,as his lab gets the bum's rush from Cagliostro's cronies,one of which,a caped nude girl(Anne Libert) with sparse feathers and claws that a child might learn how to make in Kindergarten art class,who screeches like a bird,that tears the good Baron to shreds(translation:two blood streaks on the side of his neck),making off with his patchwork ABBA stage prop.At the castle at Varna,Cagliostro(Vernon)awaits.Not to be confused with the 18th century Italian adventurer/occultist,our version creates blood hungry blind bird women with human sperm and bird eggs,controls peoples' feeble minds with "magnetic rays",and sports one helluva fake crepe wool goatee.See,he's out to create a master race for the benefit of the cult of Panthos(translation:a caucophany of creeps in dime store skull masks,bedsheets,and in at least one instance,Spock ears) using Frankenstein's BeeGee love child as a catalyst since his blind bird-woman was a failure(on so many levels).Elsewhere,Esmeralda(Lina Romay)the gypsy girl sits by a babbling spring a lot.With his own "fixation ray",the late Baron springs back to life with a bad case of the shakes,and warns his daughter Vera(Beatriz Savón) and Dr. Seward(Alberto Dalbés)of the guy with the spinach chin and powerful magnetic rays,but spurs his daughter to take revenge for his untimely,cheaply staged death.
Melissa(Anne Libert),the bird-girl,says,"Screeeeeeee!Screeeeeee!"
So,back at the castle, Cagliostro's been kidnapping women for parts towards his female creation,built solely to do a little dance,make a little love,and get down tonight with the silver square topped boogier he's stolen from Frankenstein,but when he discovers the Baron's daughter Vera in his dungeon,he has her tied nude to his henchman,Caronte,over a pit of poisoned spikes(translation:large piece of panelling with rubber triangles glued all over it),while both prisoners are enthusiastically flogged by the silver dude,who's also shirtless,as Cagliostro and Melissa look on,laughing maniacally/orgiastically.Truly fucked up to behold,I tell you.During the ceremony where Cagliostro hopes to mate the patchwork couple for eugenical purposes,Seward breaks in and tells the creature that Beardsley has offed his creator,sending the silver chappie into a frenzy,as he puts the bird-girl out of her misery,as well as several of the Panthos cats,but when he tries to plod off with Vera in his mitts,Seward fills him full of lead.Cagliostro speeds away in a horse-driven carriage with Esmeralda aboard(he must've pitstopped at the brook),laughing maniacally(that's what the guy does,the fake beard dictates as much) as he takes a hairpin turn around a cliff.
More trick or treaters??!!I thought I told you to turn the light off out there,Goddamn it!
Kudos to my man,Blake,for scoring the German X Rated Kult print of tonight's flick,apart from being a diamond geezer,he's always a good lightning rod for Euro-trash.Howard Vernon went onto roles in The French Sex Murders(1973),A Virgin Among the Living Dead(1973),and a myriad of other genre films,including a reprisal of Cagliostro in Les gloutonnes(1973),before passing away in 1996 in Paris.Franco,apart from having more aliases than Joe D'Amato,continues to direct movies and win awards,amazingly, today,now eighty years old!The same goes for Romay,who made her debut in tonight's feature,then went on to star in over a hundred of Franco's works.She wasn't given much to do this time,but she was a striking beauty in her heyday.You know how I am with brunettes,ferchrissakes.Like I said earlier,I enjoyed Rites for its hokey appeal and low budget charm,it had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion.If you're a Steckler/H.G. Lewis/Milligan/Buchanon,et al fan,you'll probably get similar kicks out of screening this for yourself.
Perhaps the finest example of "WTF!" ever filmed.


Nigel M said...

Okay I ll admit its not easy to make a pro franco argument since the guy was so frustrating, but there were always moments of mad genius. This for example:


beedubelhue said...

You're absolutely right,Nige.Under the proper circumstances,ol' Jess has produced some genuinely brilliant moments(there are even a few in Erotic Rites,if you look carefully enough),his fuzzy,out-of-focus overgrown pubic mound crotch shots aside!He's a feast or famine director,and unfortunately,his feasts are usually packaged around 83 minutes of pure starvation.;2)

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