Lady Frankenstein (1971)

Rating: C

Dir: Mel Wells
Star: Joseph Cotten, Sara Bay, Paul Müller, Mickey Hargitay
a.k.a. La figlia di Frankenstein

Despite the great poster, this is a surprisingly ‘straight’ and largely predictable version of the Frankenstein tale: it starts in the usual fashion (bodysnatchers, lightning storm, damaged brain, rampage), and finishes there too. The only twist is in the middle, where the creature’s first victim is his creator (Cotten), and his daughter (Bay, a.k.a. Rosalba Neri), fresh out of medical school, decides it takes a monster to catch one. Her loopy scheme involves transplanting the brain from her husband’s assistant (Müller) into the sturdy-but-dumb body of their handyman, which will also give her a husband with brains and brawn. Needless to say, a local cop (Hargitay) is lurking around too, asking awkward questions.

If you suspect that this is heading towards a mob of torch-carrying villagers…you’re dead on. Bay/Neri does hold the film together, with a creepy intensity which lends her character much-needed credibility. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the monster, which resembles a bee-stung version of the Toxic Avenger more than anything else. Cotten’s career was spiralling down from Hush…Hush… Sweet Charlotte and The Third Man, but he and the rest of the cast are okay – please, no sniggering at the name of the actor playing the local graverobber: Herbert Fux. This being 1971, there is some gratuitous nudity (Chris was impressed by the size of Bay’s nipples), but apart from that and the feminist undertones, you could turn down the colour on your TV, and hey presto, welcome to the 1930’s.