Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks

Sometimes a movie just reads a lot better on paper than it does when you actually sit down to watch it. When I originally read the back of the packaging for the bizarre Italian erotic horror film Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks, I thought that this film would turn out to be one of my new cult favorites. Although the film does have a few decent moments, it turns out that the old adage "never judge a book by its cover" is a fairly sound one.

The story centers around our old friend Dr. Frankenstein (Rossano Brazzi), who has recently acquired a Neanderthal man for use in his experiments. He has also had some of his men digging up bodies down at the old cemetery for parts to assist his work. One of these men is a contemptible dwarf named Genz (Michael Dunn), who likes to fondle the dead bodies of the women they dig up and is disliked by the rest of Frankenstein's men. The doctor's men set Genz up to be caught by failing to erase his footprint at the scene of their latest acquisition, causing the doctor to dismiss him from the castle for fear of the authorities tracing the print back to his work. Genz is angry because of this and befriends a Neanderthal man of his own in the hopes of using him to get back at his former employer.

In the meantime, Frankenstein's daughter, fiancee, and his daughter's best friend Krista (Christiane Royce) have come to town to visit. Dr. Frankenstein instantly starts to fall for Krista (and she him), but Genz's Neanderthal man kidnaps her while she happens to be in his cavern and Genz himself sets Frankenstein's Neanderthal free. The two hulking men lock horns in mortal combat, while the enraged townspeople form a lynch mob to come after the doctor and his monster.

I wasn't able to explain this film's story anywhere near as interesting as the back of the film's packaging did, but maybe that is because the actual story is really not as interesting as its packaging would lead one to believe. Most of the film just seems to be centered around discussion and even the final battle between Neanderthals seems to last for only a brief time before launching into more conversation. I was hoping that there would be a heavy cult influence on the film, but even the constant dialogue doesn't have an interesting spin on it. Oddly enough, the movie doesn't even live up to its title (as there is not a castle full of freaks to be seen anywhere in this film).

The interesting stuff in the film doesn't even have much to do with the plot. In fact, pretty much everything I liked in the film had more to do with my interest in the female form over anything else. Simone Blondel and Christiane Royce are incredibly attractive women and they are given several opportunities to show off that said form. Ms. Royce's character has one very interesting scene where she bathes in milk, while she and Ms. Blondel share a scene where they take a mineral bath together in a natural spring. By the time the immortal line "Now it's time for your first mud bath" was uttered, the scene had already become one of my favorites.


DVD Review

Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks has been released on DVD through Something Weird Video and Image Entertainment. The film is presented in the full frame format and the source print used for the transfer has a few scratches, but the image is relatively clean. Also included on the disc is the film's original theatrical trailer.

As with most Something Weird releases, the extras on the disc are a wealth of bizarre rarities involving little seen cult films and/or small soft core film reels. This disc is no different, with two different soft core shorts that both contain a Frankenstein theme. The first one up is a black and white short called The Monster and the Maiden and features a pretty young stripper being terrorized while on stage by Frankenstein's monster, who has been hiding in a coffin that is in plain view on the stage. While the short has a fair amount of nudity, the dancing is ludicrous and looks as if the guy playing Frankenstein has had little or no training in it.

The second short on the disc is entitled Frankenstein and the Naughty Nurse. This letterboxed color short features a nurse (whom I suppose is "naughty") that decides to do a striptease while Frankenstein's monster looks on. The nurse seems surprised when the monster become so hot and bothered that he is able to break his bonds, and the short ends with the beast being taken down by the beauty with a syringe containing some unknown substance.

The coolest feature on the disc, though, is the gallery of exploitation art. While I'm not big on art galleries, what makes this one different is the fact that Something Weird has included radio spots for the bizarre low budget films that make up some of their releases. These radio spots are really cool, especially if you are into collecting old film memorabilia (and I think that radio spots are the most under used special feature on DVD's). Of special note with the exploitation art though is that at least one of the posters in the gallery is for the edited and retitled version of the little seen blaxploitation horror film Ganja & Hess. The alternate version was entitled Blood Couple and was terribly recut by the studio that owned it, but it is interesting to see some of the original promotional material for the film no matter what the version was that was being promoted.

Review by Pockets of Sanity

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