Sunday, 29 March 2009

Frankenstein’s Daughter (1958)

Teenagers, music, dancing, monsters - it’s always a winning formula, isn’t it? Well at least that’s what the producers of Frankenstein’s Daughter thought. This is an extra cheesy slice of 50s horror kitsch, and it’s fun if you’re in the mood.

Trudy is a nice regular high school kid with a nice regular boyfriend. She lives with her kindly uncle Carter. He’s a mad scientist. As his assistant he has a Dr Oliver Frank, and I don’t think I’m giving away too much of a spoiler if I reveal that his real name turns out to be not Frank but Frankenstein. He’s an even madder scientist. He’s the grandson of the original mad scientist of that name and he’s an interesting variation on the Frankenstein character, being a kind of sleazy lounge lizard mad scientist. He spends as much time drooling over Trudy and her girlfriends from high school and making embarrassingly unsuccessful attempts at seduction as he does bringing the dead back to life.

It turns out that the crippled halfwit gardener is actually an old retainer of the Frankenstein family. He also takes a considerable interest in Trudy and her pals, and in his spare time collects dead bodies for his master. The descendent of the great Frankenstein is carrying on the family’s work, but this time he’s going to use a female brain, on the assumption that this will make the monster more pliable. Sadly the monster tuns out to be as homicidally inclined as its predecessors. Trudy tries desperately to convince both the cops and he boyfriend that something sinister is going on, but they all think it’s just the overheated imagination of these Crazy Kids Today.

The plot plays out exactly as you’d anticipate. The acting is as terrible as you’d expect, and the effects are every bit as inept as you could hope for. The mad scientist laboratory is perhaps the most pitifully lame mad scientist laboratory in the history of horror movies. This is all pure cheese. Plus you get the hot rhythms of Page Cavanaugh and His Trio, performing their classic tracks “Daddy-Bird” and “Special Date” - if you’ve ever wondered why Page Cavanaugh and His Trio didn’t go on to become a major international attraction then here’s your answer. They’re as awful as everything else in this movie!

But this is a 1950s teenagers with monsters movie, it ain’t Citizen Kane, and if you have a soft spot for this sort of thing then you should thoroughly enjoy yourself. I did.

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