• Frankenstein’s Daughter (The Film Detective) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: The Film Detective
    Released on: October 26th, 2021.
    Director: Richard E. Cunha
    Cast: John Ashley, Sandra Knight, Harold Lloyd, Jr., Sally Todd, Wolfe Barzell, Felix Maurice Locher
    Year: 1958
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    Frankenstein’s Daughter – Movie Review:

    Directed by the late, great Richard E. Cunha, Frankenstein’s Daughter, from 1958, opens with a pair of lovebirds in the back of a guy’s car. He puts the moves on her and she’s not having any of it so he splits, stranding her in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Alone in the middle of the night, our poor buxom blonde is understandably shocked when she comes face to face with a female monster running about the neighborhood!

    From here we meet teenaged Teenager Trudy Morton (Sandra Knight), who wakes from a recurring nightmare where she sees herself as a monster. Trudy lives with her kindly Uncle Carter (Felix Maurice Locher) in the same suburbs where the opening scene took place. Trudy talks to her boyfriend, Johnny (John Ahsley), about her nightmares, telling him she thinks they're real but he reassures her that they're only bad dreams. Their pals, Suzie Lawler (Sally Todd) and Don (Harold Lloyd Jr.), have got Johnny's back on this issue, but it turns out that Trudy's right, she is the monster we saw prowling the suburbs earlier.

    Why does this happen? Well it has to do with her uncle's assistant, Oliver Frank (Donald Murphy), who lives with them and helps Carter out in his basement laboratory. He's been secretly dosing Trudy with an experimental formula that Carter hopes will lead to the elimination of disease. Oliver, however, is hoping to develop the perfect being with help from Carter's gardener, a weirdo named Elsu (Wolfe Barzell). Meanwhile, a pair of cops, Boyd (John Zaremba) and Dillon (Robert Dix), is scoping out the area investigating reports of a monster in the neighborhood. Things only get worse when Suzie goes on a date with a very handsy Oliver, who winds up running her down with his car so that he can harvest her brain to his sinister experiments as his shocking true identity is finally revealed! Oh, and there’s a sweet pool party going on in the middle of all of this, with music provided by Page Cavanaugh And His Trio!

    Quick in its pacing and plenty entertaining, Frankenstein’s Daughter (which used a confusing one sheet featuring a shirtless, bare-chested, hairy monster carrying a hot, unconscious female!) is eighty-five minutes of B-movie bliss. The main cast members all do a pretty solid job here. Ashley is his typical wholesome, handsome self and Sandra Knight an interesting cast to play a monster, she’s a lot of fun to watch here. Donald Murphy is a pretty solid bad guy and, oddly enough, we have no problem believing that goofy, pretty Sally Todd would want to date him even if it ends poorly for her. Wolfe Barzell steals a few scenes as Murphy’s super-sketchy assistant while Locher is just plain likeable as the sweet old man of the film.

    Cunha’s direction is alright. He keeps things moving, gets decent acting out of his cast and infuses the movie with a lot of energy. The makeup effects are never more than completely unconvincing (in one scene it looks like Knight has painted on ping-pong balls as eyes!) but the lab set works well enough and the score isn’t half bad at all. The movie can’t help but wear its low budget on its sleeve but overall, this one delivers.

    Frankenstein’s Daughter – Blu-ray Review:

    Frankenstein’s Daughter arrives on Blu-ray from The Film Detective on a 25GB region free disc with the feature taking up 23.8GBs of space on the 50GB disc and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and taken from a new 4k scan of the original 35mm negative. Strangely enough, this transfer uses an MPEG-2 encode which is likely the cause of the minor compression issues that pop up here and there, but despite that it looks pretty nice. We get nice, strong black levels, clean whites and a nice grey scale with good contrast evident throughout. The image is very clean, showing only occasional, tiny instances of print damage while retaining the natural film grain you’d want it to. The framing looks good and there’s nice depth and detail here as well.

    Audio for the feature is handled by an English language 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track, with optional subtitles offered in English and Spanish. The audio quality is just fine for an older low budget film. The track is balanced well, and the dialogue is always clean and easy to follow. There’s a bit of depth to the score that you might not expect, and the track is, thankfully, free of any hiss, distortion of sibilance.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary featuring author/historian Tom Weaver “and guests“ that goes into quite a bit of detail about the film’s history. There’s lots of talk and downright appreciation of director Richard E. Cunha’s contributions to the world of low budget B-movies as well as discussion about the various cast members that pop up here, such as Ashley and Knight. Weaver has some fun with the content, aware of its deficiencies but clearly a big fan of the film (he tells some fun stories about seeing it as a kid and then as an adult showing it to his slasher loving nephew). He also explains where all of the behind the scenes photos of the movie originated from which is a much weirder story than you might expect. A few of his “guests” chime in with info about the picture’s production history and their own thoughts on the movie as the track plays out, though the levels do tend to bounce a bit when this happens so keep the remote handy.

    The disc also includes two featurettes, the first of which is Richard E. Cunha: Filmmaker Of The Unknown. This is based around an interview that Weaver did with Cunha in the eighties – when he wrote Cunha, the man responded by recording his answers on camera on a video tape and sent it back to him. It’s thirty-six minutes of Cunha giving a tour of his video store before then going over his career in quite a bit of earnest detail, talking up the different films that he made during the booms years he was directing and sharing stories of some of the people that he worked with. It’s quite interesting and Cunha comes across as a genuinely nice guy.

    The second featurette is John Ashley: Man From The B’s, which is a career retrospective hosted by film historian C. Courtney Joyner that runs for ten minutes. Here Joyner basically gives us a quick biography of Ashley, pointing out some career highlights and going over his life and times.

    The disc also includes menus and chapter selection.

    Also worth mentioning is that inside the case alongside the disc is a collector’s booklet with a gallery of great black and white archival images and liner notes by Tom Weaver that document the history of the picture and which are very much worth taking the time to read.

    Frankenstein’s Daughter – The Final Word:

    Frankenstein’s Daughter is an exemplary piece of shlock, a nicely paced B-movie populated with some fun performances, memorably odd make up work and a few unforgettable set pieces. The Film Detective has done a nice job bringing this one to Blu-ray with a decent presentation and some quality extra features as well. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Frankenstein’s Daughter Blu-ray screen caps!