Flesh For Frankenstein (1973); Blood For Dracula (1974)

Really, you have to consider these two together; both of them were made together by the same people and with largely similar casts, both of them feature decidedly revisionist takes on classic gothic characters (Frankenstein is working on a form of eugenics; Dracula is unbothered by sunlight and crosses), both of them are dripping with camp, both of them are a battleground of duelling accents, both of them have about one genuinely great line of dialogue, and, well, both of them really are kind of shit, aren’t they. Also, there’s a line of thought suggesting that Paul Morrissey was using these films as a vehicle for exploring questions of power and the social order (particularly the case with Blood For Dracula), in which case I suppose you could argue—given Morrissey’s avowedly right-wing political views—the real horror these films depict is that of old aristocracies being overthrown by the lower classes, especially (shudder) the workers. Or do we want to be really silly and argue that in these films Frankenstein and Dracula are both stand-ins for Andy Warhol, casting a malign shadow over Morrissey’s film career that he can never entirely escape? There’s got to be something Freudian about that axe-wielding mayhem…

Beyond that I’m not really sure what else to say about them, other than that, if nothing else, Dalila di Lazzaro is as attractive as I remember her being when I last saw FFF in the 90s and both films feature some nice sets (which I presume look better in other DVD editions than the rather muddy NTSC conversion Force Video made for their version). I think what ultimately bothers me the most about these films is that neither of them gives me the impression of being the work of someone with an affection for the genre. This is one thing if you’re making a film and you decide to go the horror route for purely commercial/exploitative reasons (how many of the best films in the genre came into existence that way?) and don’t have a great love for the genre otherwise, but if you’re going to make a spoof of it (as seems to have been at least partly the intention here) then it’s hard to do it right without at least some fondness for the genre. Morrissey obviously had no problems with the genre’s increasing gore quotient, going well beyond what was common even in ’73/’74 (cf. all those internal organs in FFF, while BFD offers at least one scene of quite awe-inspiring tastelessness), but I still don’t get the feeling he otherwise had much interest in horror. In which case I’m not entirely sure what the point really was.

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