Flesh for Frankenstein is a 1973 Italian- French sexualized horror film and appropriation of Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein. It was directed by Paul Morrissey and written by Paul Morrissey, Tonino Guerra, and Pat Hackett. The film was produced by Andy Warhol, Andrew Braunsberg, Louis Peraino and Carlo Ponti. It stars Joe Dallesandro as Nicholas, the stableboy, Udo Kier as the Baron von Frankenstein, Monique van Vooren as the Baroness Katrin Frankenstein, Amo Juerging as Otto, the Baron’s assistant, Daliala Di Lazzaro as the femal monster, and Srdjan Zelenovic as Sacha the male monster.
In the United States, the film title was changed and was marketed as Andy Warhol's Frankenstein instead of Flesh for Frankenstein. It was rated X by the MPAA due to the explicit sexuality and violence in the film. In subsequent US DVD releases, the film was retitled Flesh for Frankenstein, while the more popular title was used in other regions.
Flesh for Frankenstein starts off by introducing us to Baron von Frankenstein and his family it begins to show us how he is neglecting his duties towards his wife and sister Katrin the Baroness Frankenstein. He is neglecting her and his duties to her because he is obsessed with creating a perfect Serbian race to obey his commands. His plan is to do this beginning by assembling a perfect male and female from the remains of corpses. He is dissatisfied with the inadequate reproductive urges of his current male creation, and seeks a head donor with a greater libido so that he can reproduce with the female creation to form a perfect Serbian race.
The Baron and his assistant, Otto, are out one day going to a brothel to find a more suitable male to create the perfect Serbian race. Nicolas, the farmhand/ stable boy for the Frankenstein’s is at the same brothel along with his friend who he brought there in an unsuccessful attempt to dissuade him from entering into a monastery. The Barron and Otto see Nicholas his friend walk outside the door with two of the woman working at the brothel and decide he is the perfect candidate for his male creation. They assume he has been with the two women and that he will have a greater libido. However, it was actually Nicolas who was with the women. They wait until the men leave the brothel, knock out Nicolas, and behead his monk friend and take his head for the male creature. We next find out that Katrin has summoned Nicholas and he has been gratifying her unsatisfied sexual needs according to an agreement they had formed.
Both the male and female creatures are under the control of the Barron and are told to go sit for dinner with the Barron’s family. The male creature shows no sign of even recognizing Nicolas as he serves the Baron and his family their dinner. Nicolas then realizes that something is very wrong in this castle, but pretends not to notice or recognize his friend until he can investigate what is going on there. He has a fight with Katrin, who is selfish and only concerned with her own sexual needs. So, Nicolas goes down to the laboratory to see what is going on for himself. While down there he is captured by the Baron. The Baron thinks about using Nicolas’ head for his male creature that is still showing no signs of a heightened libido. Katrin gets rewarded for betraying Nicolas to the Baron and is granted the use of the creature for her sexual needs and desires, but is shortly killed after taking him to her bed room when he suffocates her by squeezing/holding her too tightly.
Down in the laboratory, Otto, who hasn’t been allowed any time alone takes advantage of his alone time and begins to become intimate with the female creature that he has lusted after, but this act results in the death of the female creature. The Baron returns to the laboratory and after seeing what has happened is enraged and kills Otto. Then the Baron tries to have the male creature kill Nicolas, but a part of his friend returns and instead kills the Baron. The creature believing he is better off dead then kills himself by pulling apart his stitches and pulling out his insides. The Baron’s children then enter the laboratory and pick up scalpels and begin to let down Nicolas, who has been strung up. The movie ends before he is set down on the ground.
The film is based on the idea that the Baron wants to create an entirely new Serbian race with a male creature and a female creature. The only way he can accomplish this is by having the two have sex and reproduce. The Baron’s search for a male has not been going well. None of the male head’s he has required have had a strong enough sexual desire to want to mate with the female creature. So, the major theme of this film is a lack of sexual desires for the Baron to create a new race. The only reason Nicolas’ friend is chosen to be the next head of the male creature is because the Baron and Otto believe that he has just had sex with two women.
When it comes to Nicolas however, there is no lack in desire. Nicolas is first introduced to us while in a small shack getting it on with a female worker of the Frankenstein castle. Then the second time the audience sees Nicolas he is at a brothel taking on two women at one time. Then you have the “working” relationship between him and the Baroness Katrin von Frankenstein. An agreement they both have agreed upon. The agreement is that Nicolas can work in the castle if he will fulfill Katrin’s sexual desires and needs, since her husband isn’t fulfilling them. Katrin doesn’t care for Nicolas we find out in the end. She betrays him after he is more worried about his dead friend than satisfying her sexual needs and desires. She was only using him for sex because she wasn’t getting any from her husband/ brother. She then gets rewarded, with the male creature being lent to her for all of her sexual needs, for betraying Nicolas to the Baron. She has no problem with the idea of sleeping with this male who is put together with several different male corpses remains. Sexual desires is all that drives her. The Baron’s restrictions of his sexual urges and his powerful urge for domination is shown when he utilizes the surgical wounds of his female creation before she is reanimated to satisfy his lust and pounds into her repeatedly until he is completely satisfied. Otto also has restricted his sexual desires for the female creature and later on in the film gives into his lust when alone with her and causes her to die from the act.
The movie starts with the Baron and Baroness Frankenstein children, Monica and her brother, Erik, playing “doctor” and dissecting a doll. When they are through taking the guts out of the doll, Erik, with Monica's approval, chops its head off with a miniature guillotine they have. Then at the end of the movie we see the kids return to their father’s laboratory where their parents, Otto, and both the male creature and female creature lie dead on the laboratory floor. Nicolas is still strung up where the Baron left him. The kids go over to one of the tables and both grab a scalpel. Then with Monica’s approval Erik begins to spin the wheel to lower Nicolas. The movie then ends so we don’t know what happens. However, with the earlier scene evolving the doll we could assume.
Their children’s father the Baron is no saint. He has murdered many males and at least one female in hopes of creating his perfect Serbian race. He hits Nicolas over the head and beheads his friend immediately without hesitation in hopes of his perfect race. He then kills his assistant, Otto, with no remorse at all in a fit of rage. Then, he orders the death of Nicolas for no reason at all because his experiment is already ruined because the female creature is gone.
Reception and ImpactEdit
Rotten Tomatoes has Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein at a 91% rating on their website. Proving that some loved the movie. However, The New York Times wrote “In a muddy way, the movie attempts to instruct us about the universal insensitivity, living-deadness and the inability to be turned on by anything short of the grotesque. However, this ‘Frankenstein’ drags as much as it camps; despite a few amusing moments, it fails as a spoof, and the result is only a coy binge in degradation,” showing that many of the viewers didn’t like the movie, as well. As far as the film impacting the Frankenstein sphere I think it does. It gives Frankenstein lovers a different type of Frankenstein film to experience; one that may not be for everyone, but surely one that everyone could appreciate.