Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on December 12th, 2011
This particular double-bill of offerings (in the form of rather muddy, scratched prints) from Elvira’s Movie Macabre makes a certain odd kind of sense: each film features one of Victor Frankenstein’s female descendants up to no good: his daughter in Lady Frankenstein, and his granddaughter in the inaccurately titled Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter.
Lady Frankenstein (1971)is the more interesting of the two (thought that doesn’t actually make it good). Joseph Cotten is unfortunate enough to be cast as Frankenstein, but fortunate enough to be kill off partway through, while his creature, the result of a botched brain transplant experiment, runs amok. His daughter (Rosalba Neri) picks up where her father left off, performing her own transplant for more lascivious purposes. Though definitely a weak example of Euro-Gothic, it still has a nice Olde Worlde feel to it, and has added interest due to the presence of erstwhile Little Shop of Horrors store owner Mel Welles co-writing and co-directing, but also Mickey Hargitay (best known now as either Mr. Jaynes Mansfield or Mariska Hargitay, Sr.) in the cast.
Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966), on the other hand, is an early example of the frequently botched attempt to meld the horror film and the western (I’m thinking The Burrowers  may well be the only fully successful such hybrid). This is not only a botched hybrid, it’s a botched film by any standard. The nonsense script has Jesse James (John Lupton) bringing a wounded member of his gang to a castle that, as luck would have it, is the home of the exiled gradchildren of the famous scientist. Maria Frankenstein (Narda Onyx) is the alpha of the two siblings, with brother Rudolph (Steven Geray) whining and worrying every step of the way. Lacking even the atmosphere that Lady Frankenstein boasts, this film’s only redeeming grace is that it is just bad enough to start becoming laughably watchable again.
Elivra does her usual bit of stringing together slightly naughty and extremely eye-rolling jokes in the intro and during the commercial breaks, popping up now and then as a picture-in-picture to ridicule the movies with a quick one-liner. She’s hardly interrupting great art here, but the wit is hardly MST3K, either. Still, these episodes are now a part of television horror host history, and have their own special little place in the vaults, too.