• Erotic Rites Of Frankenstein , The



    Released by: Redemption Films
    Released on: July 28th, 2015.
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Alberto Dalbés, Dennis Price, Howard Vernon, Beatriz Savón, Anne Libert
    Year: 1972
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    The Movie:

    When this 1972 film from Jess Franco begins, Baron Frankenstein (Dennis Price) gives his monster (Fernando Bilbao) the ability to speak only to immediately learn of the pain that the monster must live with! Shortly after, a brute named Caronte (Luis Barboo) and a flesh eating blind bird woman named Melissa (Anne Libert) raid the lab after which they leave the good doctor’s body dead on the floor and make off with his most famous creation to deliver the monster to their master Cagliostro (Howard Vernon).

    With everyone assuming that the doctor is dead, his daughter Vera (Beatriz Savón) arrives in town to use her father’s knowledge to reanimate his corpse so that she can learn the truth about what really happened. The only other one who knows of the monster’s fate is Dr. Seward (Albert Dalbés), and so he and Vera kinda-sorta work together to find the monster – and they do, but Cagliostro’s mind control powers area strong and prove able to command not only to the monster, but Vera as well. Soon enough we learn the truth behind Cagliostro’s scheme: he intends to provide the monster with a mate in the form of Madame Orloff (Britt Nichols), a woman from town he has kidnapped to provide the necessary parts for his fiendish experiment.

    This is a film that is highlighted by a cast of Franco regulars. Obviously Howard Vernon appeared in scores of the director’s pictures over the years and he’s great as the sinister Cagliostro here. Dennis Price does a fine job as the titular doctor, hamming it up just a bit, while Beatriz Savón as his daughter is, if nothing else, quite beautiful – on top of that she looks the part, she has a bit of a youthfulness to her that suits the role well. Anne Libert as the insane bird woman steals pretty much every scene that she’s in while Fernando Bilbao as the silver painted monster is…. Bizarre. Just flat out bizarre. Throw the always lovely Britt Nichols into the role of Madame Orloff, however, and this definitely turns out to be one that fans can have a good time with even if only for the casting. It’s also fun to see the director himself pop up as Frankenstein’s trusty assistant Morpho.

    Thankfully there’s more to appreciate here than just a bunch of familiar faces. Daniel White, another frequent Franco co-conspirator, delivers a very effective and moody score while the movie itself, a decidedly odd take on Mary Shelley’s most famous work, is ripe with weird sexualized set pieces and insane costume choices. Throw in a whole bunch of the director’s trademark kink, a little welcome slap and tickle action and plenty of gratuitous but nicely shot and fairly artsy nudity and this one hits most of the right notes most of the time. It’s also got some great atmosphere and enough oddball cinematography to keep you interested even if the story occasionally goes off the rails a bit.

    NOTE – Both the previous Image DVD release that came out in the states and the X-Rated release that was put out in Germany presented the Spanish cut of the film. This was a clothed variant, meaning some of the naughty bits featured alternate bits with actors not in the buff. There was also some alternate ‘gypsy’ footage included in that cut. This version is the uncut French version of the movie with all of the naughtiness completely intact. Sadly the gypsy footage (which featured Lina Romay) and alternate clothed bits have not been included in the supplements, so completists will want to hold onto their previous DVD versions for that reason.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Erotic Rites Of Frankenstein debuts on Blu-ray from Redemption in AVC encoded 1080p high definition properly framed at 2.35.1 widescreen in a transfer taken from the original 35mm negative. There is some print damage and some noticeable color fading but this is still a marked improvement over what we’ve seen in the past and would seem to be the best looking version currently available. Like a lot of Redemption’s other Franco Blu-ray releases there hasn’t been much, if any, restoration work done here but the plus side of that is that we get a very film like transfer. Detail is pretty solid and black levels are good. Compression artifacts are a non-issue and there’s zero evidence of noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    Audio options are provided in French and English language options in DTS-HD Mono with removable subtitles provided in English for the French track. There’s a little bit of hiss here and there but it’s not really a problem or a major distraction. If some flatness inherent in the original recordings comes through, so be it, as at least the levels are balanced and most of the audio pretty clean.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary from Video Watchdog’s Tim Lucas, who rightly points out some of the connections that this film has to other pictures that Franco was making around the same time. He also offers up plenty of information on the cast and crew, makes some interesting observations about the locations featured in the film and provides some critical analysis throughout the picture. As is typical of Lucas’ commentaries, it’s an interesting talk that points out a lot of details that you might otherwise miss.

    Outside of that, we get a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    In a perfect world, The Erotic Rites Of Frankenstein would have been given a sterling Blu-ray release that included all known versions of the film, but this isn’t a perfect world. If your glass is half full, however, you can appreciate that we’ve been given the best version (and the director’s preferred cut) of the movie in a new HD transfer that mops the floor with past versions and that includes a genuinely interesting commentary. The movie itself is as compelling as bizarre as you’d hope for and all in all, this release is an easy one to recommend to those with an affinity and fascination for Franco’s output.


    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!