Flesh for Frankenstein  

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“To know death, you have to fuck life in the gallbladder.” --Flesh for Frankenstein (1973)

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Andy Warhol's Frankenstein is a 1973 horror film directed by Paul Morrissey and produced by Andy Warhol, Andrew Braunsberg, Louis Peraino, and Carlo Ponti. Starring Udo Kier, Joe Dallesandro, Monique van Vooren and Arno Juerging, and filmed in the famous Cinecittà by a crew of Italian master filmmakers, Andy Warhol's Frankenstein is suffused with the crumbling glamour of old Italian films, paying homage to (while simultaneously parodying) the earnest and stark visual and psychological beauty of the horror films on which it is based. Morrissey's sense of ironic detachment gives the film a gruesomely comic modernity and beauty all its own.

In the United States, the film was marketed as Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, and was presented in the Space-Vision 3-D process in premiere engagements. It was rated X by the MPAA, due to its explicit sexuality and violence. A 3-D version also played in Australia in 1986, along with Blood for Dracula, an obvious pairing. In the seventies a 3-D version played in Stockholm, Sweden. In subsequent US DVD releases, the film was retitled Flesh for Frankenstein, while the original title was used in other regions.

The film was later cut to 93 minutes for an R-rating, thereby increasing its ability to be screened in more theaters. The U.S. DVD releases have utilized the full uncut version, which is now unrated. The film has had it's television premiere in the United Kingdom on November 17th 2009 and was broadcast in 3D as part of Channel 4's 3D Week.



Like Blood for Dracula, made by the same crew and cast, and sharing many of the same sets (a cost-cutting measure first used by Roger Corman), Flesh for Frankenstein is an attempt at using a gothic story to comment on power, knowledge and social order. While many adaptations of Frankenstein portray the doctor as a man whose dedication to science for professional glory take him too far, in Flesh for Frankenstein, the Baron’s interest is more self-absorbed: he seeks to rule the world by creating a new species that will obey him and do his bidding.

Plot synopsis

Dr. von Frankenstein neglects his duties towards his wife/sister, as he is obsessed with creating a perfect Serbian race to obey his commands, beginning by assembling a perfect male and female from parts of corpses. The doctor's sublimation of his sexual urges by his powerful urge for domination is shown when he utilizes the surgical wounds of his female creation to satisfy his lust. He is dissatisfied with the inadequate reproductive urges of his current male creation, and seeks a head donor with a greater libido; he also repeatedly exhibits an intense interest that the creature's "nasum" (nose) have a correctly Serbian shape.

As it happens, a suitably randy farmhand leaving a local brothel along with his sexually repressed friend, brought there in an unsuccessful attempt to dissuade him from entering a monastery, are spotted and waylaid by the doctor and his henchman; mistakenly assuming that the prospective monk is also suitable for stud duty, they take his head for use on the male creature. Not knowing these behind-the-scene details, the farmhand survives and finds his way to the castle, where he is befriended by the doctor's wife; they form an agreement for him to gratify her unsatisfied carnal appetites.

Under the control of the doctor, the male and female creatures are seated for dinner with the castle's residents, but the male creature shows no signs of recognition of his friend as he serves the Baron and his family. The farmhand realizes at this point that something is awry, but himself pretends not to recognize his friend's face until he can investigate further. After a falling out with the doctor's wife, who is merely concerned with her own needs, he is captured by the doctor while snooping in the laboratory; the doctor muses about using his new acquisition to replace the head of his creature, who is still showing no signs of libido. Nevertheless, the doctor's wife/sister is rewarded for betraying the farmhand by being granted use of the creature for erotic purposes, but is killed during a bout of overly vigorous copulation. Meanwhile the jealous henchman repeats the doctor's sexual exploits with the female creature, resulting in her graphic disembowelment. The doctor returns and, enraged, does away with the henchman; when he attempts to have the male creature eliminate the farmhand, however, the remnants of his friend's personality rebel and the doctor is killed instead in gruesome fashion. The creature, believing he is better off dead, then disembowels himself. The doctor's children then enter the laboratory pair up a pair of scalpels and proceed to turn the wheel of the crane that is holding the farmhand in mid-air. It is not clear if the scalpels are there in order to release him, or take over when father left off!

The gruesomeness of the action was intensified in the original release by the use of 3-D, with several dismbowelments being shot from a perspective such that the internal organs are thrust towards the camera.


The films staff included many Italians in the production, including Enrico Job as the production designer, pianist Claudio Gizzi for the score and special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi for the special effects. Warhol's contributions to film were minimal, including visiting the set once and briefly visiting during the editing period.


Actor Role Description
Joe Dallesandro Nicholas Stableboy
Udo Kier Baron von Frankenstein
Monique van Vooren Baroness Katrin Frankenstein
Arno Juerging Otto The Baron's assistant
Dalila Di Lazzaro Female monster
Srdjan Zelenovic Sacha/Male monster Nicholas' friend
Marco Liofredi Erik The Baron's son
Nicoletta Elmi Monica The Baron's daughter
Liù Bosisio Olga Maid
Cristina Gaioni Farmer Nicholas' girlfriend
Cristina Gaioni Sonia Prostitute

Writer and director

Screenwriter Tonino Guerra is better known as the author of Fellini's Amarcord and Antonioni's Blowup.

While some Italian prints reportedly give second unit director Antonio Margheriti credit as director of the film, Udo Kier has stated that Margheriti had nothing to do with directing the film. Kier stated that he and the other cast members received direction only from Morrissey, and noted that he never saw Margheriti on the set.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Flesh for Frankenstein" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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