Image Entertainment presents
Frankenstein's Daughter (1958)
"Tonight, you'll be alive again, you little vixen."- Oliver Frank[enstein] (Donald Murphy)
Stars: John Ashley, Sandra Knight
Other Stars: Harold Lloyd, Jr., Sally Todd, Donald Murphy, Robert Dix, Felix Locher
Director: Richard Cunha
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, cheesy horror, white-bread rock & roll)
Run Time: 01h:26m:31s
Release Date: 2000-08-01
DVD ReviewIn horror films over the years, the doctors who bear the name Frankenstein have been called many things: evil, mad, daring to meddle with things man was meant to leave alone, and the like. But with Frankenstein's Daughter we can add "politically incorrect" to that litany.
The grandson of the original Dr. Frankenstein, Oliver (Donald Murphy), is cleverly masquerading as "Dr. Frank." Ollie is acting as lab assistant to old Carter Morton (Felix Locher) who is engaged in some kind of weird experiments that require the theft of certain "unperfected" chemicals. Unbeknownst to Carter, Frank is at the same time repeating the life-endowing experiments of his grandfather and father in Carter's wine cellar (which just happens to have a secret entrance from the laboratory). In the meantime, Frank is also (apparently just for yuks) spiking the drinks of young women, including Carter's niece Trudy Morton (Sandra Knight), with a concoction that first knocks the women out and then turns them into bestial monstrosities that stalk the night attacking random citizens.
This plot point seems to be naked padding, since it goes nowhere and just serves to fill up the first half-hour. Things really start to happen when Frank gets serious about his life-creation process, sending the gardener, Elsu (Wolf Barzell) out for random body parts. It seems that old Elsu also served the last two generations of Frankensteins and is still up for more mayhem in the name of Weird Science. When he comes home with only half a brain instead of the whole head that's required, Ollie takes matters into his own hands, seducing a young blonde (Sally Todd) to go parking with him; he first sexually assaults her and then runs her down with his car. Talk about a bad first date.
Although it's ostensibly Sally's head on the monster's body, the living creation is clearly a man. But as Elsu observes, the creature has a woman's brain, and thus really Frankenstein's daughter. This is what happens when film executives come up with the name first, and the movie second. Ollie notes that he is able to command the creature, unlike the creations of his ancestors. This is, he observes, because "The woman's brain is conditioned to being controlled by the male, and thus she is more easily manipulated!" Whoops, Oliver, that line doesn't age too well. It probably didn't go over too well in the 1958 drive-ins either, for that matter. The balance of the film is the usual predictable and silly mayhem of the era. Somehow John Ashley, who has a bit part as Trudy's boyfriend, managed to get top billing on this turkey. Or maybe no one else wanted it.
Filmed in six days for a budget of about $80,000, Frankenstein's Daughter suffers from a miserable script, awful acting and pedestrian direction. Murphy's idea of a menacing expression is a smirk that looks like he's about to toss his cookies. Most gruesome of all are the musical numbers which stop what little momentum the film has dead in its tracks. These are the fault of Harold Lloyd, Jr., who went on to have not much of a career at all. He can't sing and the "rock" music is so white bread it would nauseate Pat Boone. There's not much in the way of style or subtlety to be seen here at all.
This movie is bad enough that it falls into the Ed Wood league of "so bad it's good." On that basis, it's worth a look; for best effect, make sure to have some feminists attend the showing.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Astonishingly, considering the low-budget origins of this film, the picture looks just great! The black and white photography is clear and crisp, with excellent blacks and a wide range of greys. The contrast is pleasant, without overemphasis in either direction. There are a few random speckles here and there, but overall a very nice image indeed.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: Unfortunately, the mono audio track badly betrays the film's nickel-and-dime budget. The music and dialogue are very tinny throughout, and there is an annoying electronic buzz heard in the background of much of the film. Although much of this is no doubt a source issue, the buzz at least should have been filtered out.
Audio Transfer Grade: D
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 10 cues
1 Original Trailer(s)
- Black & white photo gallery
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsThis campy drive-in horror staple is given a splendid video transfer on this disc. Unfortunately, neither the audio nor the movie itself quite live up to the transfer. If you like Ed Wood, or cheese, you will probably find this movie amusing. The dialogue and the plot are nothing short of incredible. The perfect film for a do-it-yourself MST3K party.
Mark Zimmer 2000-08-09