Friday, August 25, 2006

A new Frankenstein.

Preparing for the upcoming semester means, at this stage, watching a lot of movies. Some of them are pretty bad. The one I'm watching right now, for instance, is pretty bad: it's Santo contra la hija de Frankenstein (1972), a lucha libre film featuring Frankenstein's weirdly wannabe-dishy daughter Freda and her quest to obtain the youth-giving blood of Santo the masked wrestler. Right now, Santo and the sister of his girlfriend (Norma) are outside a police station. They're trying to find the person who's kidnapped Norma. Freda Frankenstein has had her henchmen kidnap Norma. It's all a trap, see? Eventually, I think that Santo is going to end up wrestling Dr. Frankenstein's creation Ursus (or is that Truxon?) (a man whom, it seems, she's both made from many corpses and started turning into a gorilla: suffice it to say that he's bestial, and beefy). The doctor's henchmen stand around in skintight red shirts. Dr. Frankenstein wears a black leather miniskirt. Even for 1972, this movie is crazy.

Perhaps my favorite film version of Frankenstein is I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957), in which the eponymous doctor preys upon teenaged victims of car crashes to get perfect young flesh for his man-making experiments! Truly! Eventually, several people get eaten by the alligators (!) who live in the dungeon (!!) under Frankenstein's laboratory.

Norma is getting terrorized while I type. Fortunately, like all versions of Frankenstein's creatures in the movies, this movie's creature is afraid of fire and can thus be controlled by means of a brandished torch. Norma is also wearing a leather miniskirt (hers is brown and kicky and fringed!). Now that she's not being chased by a corpse/animal/man, she's free to run around screaming and being terrorized by bats on visible wires. Meanwhile, Freda Frankenstein worries that Norma will make it to the police, in which case the laboratory will have to be blown up with the ominous sounding "red switch."

Santo, meanwhile, seems implacable, unflappable--even suave enough not just to reassure but even to flirt with his girlfriend's sister.

Did I mention the brigade of men in tight red t-shirts? Did I mention that Freda (whose hair just changed in utterly confounding ways) pumps them all up with youth serum? Or that she has to inject herself with the serum in order to keep her weird version of fetching looks?

Did I mention (surely you already know by now) that Santo is a masked Mexican wrestler?

Oh no! He's just been captured by the tight-red-shirted men! Now he is at the mercy of the white go-go-booted Freda, who says, "So you are Santo.... With my science and your skill we would be invincible." And now (because of course he refused her), he's fighting with Truxon. In his silver mask (did I mention that his mask is silver?)!

I'm not sure how much more of this I can take without an interval of sleeping.

Saturday morning's postscript: Did I mention that these women--Norma and her sister Elsa--run around kicking some ass (though not so much that they still don't need to be saved by Santo on occasion) in miniskirts and little bouffantish hairdos? And try out this snippet of dialogue:

Santo (to man in Jeep): Would you be so kind as to take these women to the city?
Man in Jeep: It will be a great honor to serve you, Santo. You are my favorite wrestler.
Santo: Next time you see me fight, go to my dressing room. I will be pleased to see you again. (looks to Elsa and Norma) Get in, girls. (they get in; the Jeep drives off)

And with twenty minutes to go, Santo has removed his shirt so as to bind up the stake-stabbed chest of one of Freda Frankenstein's creatures. He now runs through her underground lair in his silver mask and grey pants, his massive chest glistening even in torchlight, even in near-total darkness. "Doctor!" one of her henchmen cries, "It seems like somebody is in the secret tunnel!" Did I mention that Freda Frankenstein's go-go boots match her suit? This movie is a masterpiece of the inexplicable.

Source for tonight's image: Cinema Diabolico.


Blogger dagger aleph said...

What on earth does this have to do with Victorian lit? Or memory?

This movie sounds at least somewhat interesting, if just for the outfits.

Have you seen Andy Warhol's Frankenstein? It's awesome. But then, I think it might be the only Frankenstein film I've ever seen.

[god, the word verification was frustrating. Was it vw? vvv? wv? Whatever it was, I got it wrong.]

12:29 AM, August 26, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

One of my classes this semester is on legendary nineteenth-century novels and their various transformations, and we're doing Frankenstein (1818) pretty early on. I'm checking to see whether any of the Frankenstein films I've managed never to see are worth subjecting the students to. This one, I'm thinking, will be a no--though it is campy good fun.

My favorite Frankenstein movie (besides Bride of Frankenstein, which I genuinely do like) is Frankenstein Unbound, a Roger Corman craziness that features Michael Hutchence as Percy Bysshe Shelley. So over the top. So worth finding.

I haven't ever seen the Warhol. I'll have to seek it out next.

12:46 AM, August 26, 2006  
Blogger Poking-Stick Man said...

This sounds suspiciously like procrastination to me, though I'm certainly not one to judge: I just spent an hour unsuccessfully trying to make a header ("British Literature I") for use with the institutional course software.

Doesn't Kenneth Branagh's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein feature Helena Bonham Carter running down a hallway, engulfed in flames, only to dramatically crash through a floor-to-ceiling window that happens to be conveniently located at the end of said hallway? That's my favorite scene from all of the Frankenstein films I've ever seen.

2:59 AM, August 26, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Mais non! Everything like this is one more weird twist in that whole course's rubric. I don't think I had a full appreciation before last night and this morning of just how international the Frankenstein thing is.

And yes, you're right about Helena B-C in the Kenneth Branagh movie. What a crazy mess that film is.

1:47 PM, August 26, 2006  
Blogger *Bat Girl* said...

This post makes me long for a Frankenstein film-fest with flaming desserts. We could make a Helena Bonham Carter flambe.

Work verification, wvsgnakd: "wave song naked?"

5:58 PM, August 27, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

That would be *astounding*. Or, perhaps more appropriately, *incendiarily good*.

6:35 PM, August 27, 2006  

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