• Lady Frankenstein (Nucleus Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Nucleus Films
    Released on: April 17th, 2019.
    Director: Mel Welles
    Cast: Rosalba Neri, Joseph Cotton, Paul Mueller, Herbert Fux, Mickey Hargitay
    Year: 1971
    Purchase From Amazon

    Lady Frankenstein – Movie Review:

    Long a staple of budget releases and multipacks thanks to its ‘public domain’ status, Lady Frankenstein stars the gorgeous Rosalba Neri (credited as Sara Bay) as Tania Frankenstein, the daughter of the infamous Baron Frankenstein (Joseph Cotton). When we meet her, she’s just been accredited as a surgeon and is keen on following in her father’s footsteps in terms of medical research and experimentation. What she doesn’t realize though is that her father’s experiments on transplants are no longer just being conducted on animals – he’s taken it to the next level and started experimenting on cadavers which he and his assistant, Charles (Paul Mueller), have been buying illegally from a shifty guy named Flynn (Herbert Fux).

    While Tania is keen to help her father with his experiments, and he surprised to learn that she knew of them in the first place, the Baron decides he’d prefer to work alone with Charles. When they decide it’s time to conduct the final experiment and put a brain into the body of a freshly hanged man, they’re excited by their success as lightning brings their creation to life. Due to a problem with the brain they used, however, the creature is a bit off his rocker and promptly crushes the Baron to death. Charles, who has a bit of a crush on Tania, thinks they should go to the police, led by Captain Harris (Mickey Hargitay), but Tania has other plans. She wants to protect her family name and continue the experiments herself. Meanwhile, the creature runs around and wreaks havoc, tossing naked ladies into rivers and killing random people, Charles convinces Tania he can love her and she wants to put his brain into the buff body of the dim witted groundskeeper – which will also come in handy in trying to stop the monster, and Harris starts putting together the pieces of this bizarre puzzle.

    Slick, gory and filled with a pretty awesome cast of Euro-cult regulars, Lady Frankenstein is a pretty awesome take on the tried and true Frankenstein mythos that, at this point in the game, had been done to death by the Universal and Hammer films prior. By taking the emphasis off of the Baron, well played by Cotton, and putting it onto Tania, the film ups the sex appeal considerably. Neri is stunning here, and nude more than once, and she knows how to use her feminine wiles to get what she wants from the men around her. She fits the role well, looking great in her period dress and exuding a smart, sexy confidence that fits her character very well. Mickey Hargitay is a bit out of place as the police officer but other than that, all involved put in a good effort here.

    Also noteworthy are some of the effects and sets used in the film. There’s plenty of oddball laboratory gear on display throughout the movie and a few different transplant scenes involving brains and open heads and gooey, icky stuff like that. The fact that the monster looks like The Toxic Avenger makes it a bit hard to take him too seriously but you don’t have to in order to enjoy the movie. There’s loads of screwy gothic atmosphere and style giving the film enough cult appeal and entertainment value to help less discerning viewers easily overlook the logic gaps, goofball monster and questionable character motivations.

    It should be noted that the film was trimmed of roughly fifteen minutes by New Word when they distributed it in North America in 1971. Nucleus’ Blu-ray release contains that eighty-four-minute version of the film but also contains the longer ninety-nine-minute international cut. This long version restores quite a bit of footage back into the film. While none of the added footage is particularly gory or grisly it does serve to fill in some of the blanks in terms of story flow and character development and its inclusion here is very welcome indeed.

    Lady Frankenstein – Blu-ray Review:

    Both version of Lady Frankenstein arrive on a 50G B region B encoded Blu-ray in AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentations framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. The longer version gets 27.2GBs of space and the shorter version 11.4GBs of space. The uncut version, taken from an 2k exclusive restoration, looks quite nice. There might be some light DNR here softening things up just a bit but compared to how this movie has looked on home video in the past this transfer is pretty much a revelation. Colors are reproduced very nicely and those dark scenes that were, at times, indecipherable, now exhibit strong shadow detail and are much more watchable. Skin tones look good and detail is much stronger than we’ve had before. The shorter version, also restored in 2k, shows similar qualities but does have some noticeable compression artifacts.

    For the longer version, we get Italian and English language options in 24-bit LPCM 2.0 Mono with optional subtitles offered in English only. The shorter version gets only a 24-bit LPCM 2.0 Mono track in English, there are no subtitles offered for this version. Audio quality is quite good, with dialogue always easy to understand and the levels properly balanced throughout.

    There are quite a few interesting extra features on the disc, starting with an audio commentary with Alan Jones and Kim Newman that plays over the longer cut of the picture. These two always make a great team and their work here is just as good as their other collaborations as they cover how the film does and doesn’t abide by the more clichéd tropes of the Frankenstein story, detail the cuts made to the picture as well as its release history, chat plenty about the casting of the film with plenty of detail offered about Neri and Cotton, and lots more. It’s a fun and informative talk.

    From there, we move on to the featurettes starting with a forty-two-minute German TV special entitled The Truth About Lady Frankenstein from 2007. This is basically a lengthy interview with director Welles who talks in some detail about how he came to be a fan of monster and horror pictures at a young age, before then going on to talk about the origins of the project, what it was like working on the film, stories about some of the people he worked with on the film, some of the themes that it explores, why the credits are the way they are and a lot more. Neri and Fux also chime in here, it's interesting stuff and a nice inclusion on this release.

    Up next is a piece exclusive to this Nucleus release, the thirty-five-minute Piecing Together Lady Frankenstein featurette. Hosted by author Julian Grainger, this is a pretty comprehensive look at the origins of the film, digging into the bizarre way that the film was bankrolled, casting the picture, on-set exploits, Roger Corman's role in all of this and more exploring of the themes that the film deals with. Lots of great archival bits in here.

    The eight-minute The Lady And The Orgy featurette explores how and why Welles moved to Australia after finishing Lady Frankenstein, packaging the film as a promotional bundle dubbed 'The Orgy Of Evil' and the ensuing protests from religious groups that arose after giving this a shot.

    There are a few shorter, but still very interesting, extras included on the disc as well, like the inclusion of the 1971 Bigfilm Magazine Italian Lady Frankenstein photo novel, the BBFC's 1972 theatrical censor notes on the film, six different theatrical trailers (English, Italian, German and three different US versions), a few US TV spots, some US Radio Spots, a still gallery of home video release artwork, an extensive image gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    Lady Frankenstein – The Final Word:

    Nucleus Films has put together a pretty comprehensive release for Lady Frankenstein! We get both versions of the movie and a great selection of extra features. The movie itself is a quirky slice of gothic horror that proves plenty entertaining thanks to some great casting, fun effects work and a unique take on a classic story. Recommended!

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

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      Ian, thank you ever so much for the screenshot of Rosalba's ass. I will treasure it always. I love this movie and agree that this is a wonderful release. I'm going to have to watch this tonight.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Merry Christmas, Gary!
    1. George Barry's Avatar
      George Barry -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jane View Post
      Merry Christmas, Gary!
      (And) A Happy New Year! God Bless Us, Every One.
    1. Lalala76's Avatar
      Lalala76 -
      Ian, thank you ever so much for the screenshot of Rosalba's ass
      Screenshot of the year, right there