• Flesh For Frankenstein (Vinegar Syndrome) UHD/Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: November 26th, 2021.
    Director: Paul Morrissey
    Cast: Udo Kier, Joe Dallesandro, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Anro Jurging, Nicoletta Elmi
    Year: 1973
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    Flesh For Frankenstein – Movie Review:

    Shot more or less back to back with his other 'made in Europe' production with the one and only Udo Kier Blood For Dracula 1973's Flesh For Frankenstein ups the ante in the laughs department but still delivers some atmospheric moments and plenty of nasty gore. What made this one stand out from the heard of gothic Frankenstein movies was that it was to be made for 3-D audiences, and while it isn't presented that way on this DVD, you can still tell that there are certain scenes in the film that really would look quite good with the added depth (having seen it in 3-D, I can attest that it's pretty damn cool to see a handful of entrails come out of the screen at you).

    Kier plays the one and only Baron Frankenstein, a strange mad scientist type who lives in a creepy old castle with his sister who he has also made his wife, Baroness Katrin (Monique Van Vooren). Together they have two inbred children named Erik and Monica, and the Baron's lab assistant, Otto (Arno Juerging) resides in the castle as well.

    The Baron spends almost all of his waking hours downstairs in the lab with Otto, trying to complete his most recent experiment, which is to reanimate a male and female couple that he has built out of parts from various corpses. While the female is looking good and almost ready to go, the Baron still has not found the right head to attach to his male creation, who he'd also like to infuse with a strong sex drive to ensure that the female of the pair is kept happy and so that he can breed his creations.

    Thankfully for the Baron, there's a local farm worker named Nicholas (Joe Dallesandro) who spends a lot of his free time making it with the local ladies and as such, he's got a reputation as a bit of a stud. When the Baron heads on down to the local house of ill repute to find Nicholas, he errs and ends up capturing his best friend, Sascha, instead. The Baron cuts of Sascha's head and attaches it to his creation, while Nicholas has been hired by the Baroness to take care of her womanly needs. When he heads on over to the castle for dinner one night, he notices something unusual about the Baron's new pal, and he starts to become suspicious. The more he and the Baron's two children start to look into things, the worse it looks and then decides to figure out just exactly what is going on in the castle and why…

    Like Blood For Dracula, this film makes excellent use of its sets and locations which give the movie a look that really does a fine job of hiding the fact that it was shot for peanuts. While some of the gore effects are so obviously fake that it becomes laughable (which may or may not have been the point in the first place), a few others are downright grisly and quite disturbing by their very nature (best exemplified by Otto's scar licking scene and the many shots of hands holding entrails down in the laboratory).

    Udo Kier once again steals the show as the mad doctor. He throws himself completely into the role and is at times very over the top in his performance, but it works and it works well. He's got a great chemistry with Arno Juerging and they work well together in the film. Van Vooran isn't as interesting in the movie but she is a treat to look at in that she's got such a unique face that it gives her instant screen presence even when it seems like she might be sleepwalking through a few scenes. Joe Dallesandro is more or less playing the same local man-whore here that he played in Blood and he's more than capable of delivering what the role requires, even if his accent sticks out like a sore thumb.

    Flesh For Frankenstein – UHD Review:

    This UHD 4k upgrade of Flesh For Frankenstein arrives in an HEVC encoded 2160p high definition transfer with HDR framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. Restored in 4k from its original negative, it offers a really nice upgrade over past DVD editions of the movie, with considerably better depth and texture evident throughout. That said, comparing it to the Blu-ray that comes with it, which would have to have been taken from the same restoration, the contrast on the UHD does look too hot in comparison (I fully admit to not having caught this when this review was first published as I didn't have time to A/B the discs). How much this will bother you is, of course, subjective but there is definitely a difference here between the 1080p and 2160p presentations. The UHD does offer noticeably stronger detail and depth than the Blu-ray, but the colors on the Blu-ray do look more natural.

    Note that this release also comes with a standard 2-D Blu-ray that offers a 1080p version of the same restoration, as well as a second Blu-ray that contains the film in a digital 3-D version (meaning you need a 3-D compatible Blu-ray player and TV to watch it) as well as an anaglyph 3-D version and two pairs of 3-D glasses. The 3-D restoration, completed by The 3-D Film Archive, is very nicely done and the presentation is solid. It’s a fun alternate way to watch the movie.

    The only audio option for this release is a 24-bit English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track, with optional subtitles offered in English SDH. Sound quality is great, the film’s excellent score really coming through with appreciable clarity. Dialogue is properly balanced and clean throughout and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion.

    Extras include a commentary track with Samm Deighan, Heather Drain and Kat Ellinger. Unfortunately the commentary with Paul Morrissey and Udo Kier from the past DVD editions is not included here and obviously these three take a different approach than Morrissey and Keir do, but their enjoyment and appreciation of the film definitely shines through. They discuss how the film is one of the most perverse gothic films of all time, the anachronisms of the production as a whole, how Morrissey came to direct the film in the first place, the use of 3-D effects and comedy in the movie, thoughts on some of Morrissey's other pictures, how this was shot with live sound which immediately makes it different from a lot of other Italian genre films made around the same time, the quality of the cinematography in the picture, Kier's amazing performances, thoughts on the rest of the cast and their contributions to the movie, the strange and complicated depictions of sexuality in the movie and lots more. No dead air here.

    Trans - Human Flesh & Blood is an archival interview with writer/director Paul Morrissey that runs for fifty minutes. He talks about the ridiculousness of some of the characters in his movies, his thoughts on young people of the sixties, the stupidity of a lot of producers and directors when it comes to casting, how he came to make Flesh For Frankenstein in the first place, getting financing for it, shooting it back to back with Blood For Dracula, the absurdity of life and trying to reflect that in film, working with his cast and crew, how much he liked being in Italy to work on this picture, owning twelve of his films and wanting them to last and loads more. Morrissey is pretty amusing and interesting to watch here.

    The Ecstasy Of Frankenstein is an interview with Udo Kier that lasts eighteen minutes. He talks about his youth and growing up poor, moving to England at eighteen to learn English and how he fell into acting when Mike Sarne wanted him to appear in a film, Road To St. Tropez, and how his career took off immediately. He also talks about how and why he got cast in Flesh For Frankenstein and Blood For Dracula, shooting in a studio in Rome, not having much of a script to work with, how he got along with some of his co-stars, having to handle a lot of organ meat under hot studio lights and then have an orgasm, having to lose ten pounds in one week to play Dracula, going on to make The Story Of O and My Own Private Idaho and how lucky he has been throughout his career. This is a great interview, Udo's really interesting to listen to here.

    Joe Dallesandro is interviewed in a piece called In The Flesh that runs thirteen minutes. He talks about how he got into acting and working with Warhol and Morrissey, the differences between taking direction from Warhol compared to Morrissey, his working relationship with Morrissey, what it was like shooting with a bigger crew than he was used to, what it was like working in Italy at nineteen, not having to improvise dialogue, Morrissey's tendency to 'push my buttons to make me want to fuckin' knock him out,' working with Udo Kier and his other co-stars and the benefits of shooting in a proper studio and on some amazing locations.

    Dimension In Fear sees producer Andrew Braunsberg speak for eleven minutes about why this movie was made in 3-D, the different lenses and cameras that were used, how Morrissey was brought on to direct because he did long takes, how the shoot was completed on time and on budget, how there were really only very minor problems during the shoot, why Blood For Dracula wasn't shot in 3-D, how the film was received and getting it distributed and how the film became very successful.

    Stephen Thrower is interviewed in Andy's Shadow where, over fifteen minutes, he talks about Morrissey's career, the method he developed while working for Warhol, his rise to fame with Flesh, a few projects that Morrissey was involved with that didn't happen (at one point he was considered for Cruising), why the Warhol name was so prominently used to promote the film despite not really having much of anything to do with it, the film's release in the United States and in Europe and differing audience reactions to it and his thoughts on the performances, direction, plot and production values.

    Building The World Of Frankenstein is a twenty-nine minute interview with art director Gianna Giovagnoni where he talks about how he got started doing art direction for film despite wanting to be an architect. When he learned he'd be working with Morrissey, he agreed to do it, immersing himself in 'American trash' before meeting the director, trying to tune into the style of American underground filmmaking, working with production designer Enrico Job, what an art director actually does on set, dealing with real piranhas on set, the reason that specific shapes are used in the sets, taking a leave of absence from his teaching job to work on Flesh For Frankenstein, shooting in 3-D and the technology used to do that and the locations that they were lucky enough to get access to.

    Actress Liu Bosisio is interviewed in Don't Say A Word for thirteen minutes. She talks about how she got her part in the film, wanting to play a mute because she didn't speak English, thoughts on the character that she played in the movie, liking the fact that she and Andy Warhol had a similar hairstyle, thughts on his art, working with Morrissey, how impressed she was with the laboratory set, complications that arose when shooting her death scene and show she's never actually seen Flesh For Frankenstein because she hates horror movies.

    Assistant director Paulo Pietrangeli appears in a featurette called Feed My Frankenstein. This one runs for sixteen minutes and it covers how he got his start working as an assistant director, connecting with Paul Morrissey and thinking that Flesh and Blood For Dracula were going to be more conventional than they turned out to be, getting along with Warhol, how he wound up being more of Antonio Margheritti's AD than Morrissey's, Dallesandro's penchant for showing off his masculinity on set with great pride, the comedy in the movie, some of the effects in the film and more.

    The twenty-three minute audio recollections with Paul Morrissey piece is Morrissey speaking over a nice selection of photographs that were taken on set. He talks about the comedy in the film, what it was like on location shooting at the castle, the plot of the film and the story behind many of the still photographs that play out on the screen.

    There's also screen test footage with Paul Morrissey which is four minutes of footage that he shot before production started with Srdjan Zelenovic who had already been cast as the monster before this material was shot. This was done with Maria and Geraldine Smith and was Morrissey's first experience working with 35mm film.

    Also included here is thirty-four minutes of Raw Q&E footage from 2012 with Paul Morrissey shot at a convention, moderated by Art Ettinger and Louis Paul. He speaks here about how he got into filmmaking after getting out of the army and working for an insurance company, starting at the very bottom and working his way up to making shorts and then longer shorts and then feature films. He then covers how he came to connect with Warhol and working with him, working with The Velvet Underground, why he doesn't do a lot of public appearances and quite a bit more. As is typical for Morrissey, he doesn't hold back and is quite outspoken.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are the film’s original theatrical trailer, a few radio spots, a promotional still gallery, menus and chapter selection options.

    It’s also worth taking a second to go over the packaging. The black case holds the UHD disc and the 2-D Blu-ray, the clear case holds the 3-D Blu-ray and the 3-D glasses. Each case comes with its own separate reversible cover sleeve and each of the three discs feature unique art on the front. The two cases also each have their own individual embossed slipcover, and those slipcovers in turn fit inside a side-loading and genuinely sturdy box decorated with the iconic stitched logo, each stitch mark raised and embossed to give it a nice, icky feel. It’s a little thing, sure, but it’s also the type of thing that fans will definitely appreciate.

    Flesh For Frankenstein – The Final Word:

    Flesh For Frankenstein is a morbid and grotesque comedy that won't be to everyone's taste but that does deliver some interesting and effective humor and horror in that oddball way that Morrissey has. Kier and Dallesandro are great in their roles and overall, the movie works really well. Vinegar Syndrome’s UHD/Blu-ray release is fantastic, presenting the film in a beautiful 4k presentation along with a 3-D option and loads of high quality extra features. Highly recommended!

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