Lady Frankenstein (1971)

a.k.a La Figlia di Frankenstein
Joseph Cotten and Rosalba Neri star in this suprisingly good European horror film. St. Clair Vision Canada R0 DVD - public domain.

The Film                                     

Somewhere in Gothic Europe, Baron Frankenstein (Joseph Cotten) and his assistant Dr. Marshall (Paul Muller) are taking receipt of a freshly dug up human corpse from the local graverobber Lynch (Herbert Fux) - the Baron then requests that Lynch obtain him a fresh human corpse - dead no more than 6 hours. The next morning, the Baron's daughter Tania (Rosalba Neri) arrives home after completing her University course in medicine, and she is eager to join in her father's work, but he is unwilling to let her. Eventually the Baron and Dr. Marshall complete their work and sucessfully re-animate their self-constructed man, but with the brain of a criminal in his head, he turns on, and kills the Baron before escaping the castle. Trying to save her father's name, and stop the creature's rampage of death across the countryside, Tania insists on continuing the experimentation to design a second creature who will be able to fight the first...

Inspired by the Universal horror films, looking like the Hammer films, and containing a fair dose of European style blood and nudity, Lady Frankenstein works surprisingly well. Taking only a very loose inspiration from Mary Shelley, the script is a simple gothic horror story, with a hint of romance. Generally well written, with enough characterisation to make it interesting, the film builds up to a good climax. The American cut of the film (reviewed here) was substanually altered, and is missing about 15 minutes of plot, hence there are some random jumps in the storylines that don't seem to make much sense, certainly the viewer should not expect any clever twists or moral messages. Relatively slow paced the story is interspersed with random sequences of the creature attacking villagers, obviously used to notch up the death and gore count.

Director Mel Welles does a decent job here with some relatively plain direction that lets the story tell itself. More impressive are the gothic sets for Frankenstein's castle with look very nice, with a rather understated lab more akin to the Hammer films than the massive, elaborate get-ups that the Universal Frankenstein's were able to use. An all star euro-cult cast is present including Jess Franco's favourite Paul Muller giving a very good performance as Dr. Marshall, the always attractive Rosalba Neri as the Lady and character actor Herbert Fux in top sleazy form as the graverobber. American actor Joseph Cotten, as Frankenstein himself, seems to be slumming it here compared to his better known Hollywood roles, but still manages to give a good performance.

Lady Frankenstein could never really be called a good film, but it works very well as an exploitation horror picture and never tries to over-reach itself. Boosted by a good cast and some solid production values it comes partly recommended to euro-horror fans.

In Brief

Anyone famous in it? Joseph Cotten - best known for his lead roles in The Third Man (1949) and Citizen Kane (1941).
Rosalba Neri - the belle of Italian cult cinema who also starred in Jess Franco's 99 Women (1969).
Directed by anyone interesting? Mel Welles - an American actor who moved to Europe in the 1960s to shoot and produce a variety of films, most of them now forgotten.
Any violence/gore? Some violence and blood.
Any sex? Several female topless scenes.
Who is it for?
Partly recommended to euro-exploitation fans and a good one for fans of Rosalba Neri.

The DVD 

Visuals 1.33:1 Fullscreen (there is some noticable cropping from the 1.85:1 OAR, the title sequence is letterboxed). Colour
The print is of an acceptable quality, very grainy with minor print damage throughout and a general softness akin to a VHS. The digital transfer is strong though with no noticable artifacting.
Audio English stereo - the audio is generally good although there is some crackling and hiss throughout.
Subtitles None.
Extras None.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC
Other versions available? There are various other releases of this public domain print. DVD Drive-in have released a "special edition" in the US, but this is heavily cropped at the top and bottom of the print as well as the sides. A German edition is believed to be forthcoming at this time with the original European cut of the film (although this has been on the cards for several years already).
Cuts? None known on this print - this is the American version of the film, the original European cut runs 15 minutes longer.



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All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 9th January 2007.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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