It’s the second anniversary of the Thursday Horror Picture Show, and since the series started with the greatests splatstick film of all time—Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator (1985)—it seemed only natural to run Paul Morrissey’s Flesh for Frankenstein (1974)—or as it’s familiarly known, Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein. This is the granddaddy of splatstick horror, which, if you don’t know, means an absurdly gory movie that’s played more for laughs than horror. But this one—and its superior companion piece, Morrissey’s Blood for Dracula (1974)—differs a good deal from the films that came afterwards, even if the results are not wholly dissimilar. The best description for the Morrissey films is that they’re a weird, X-rated mish-mash of over-the-top horror, deliberate over-acting and non-acting, art movie visuals, all with injections of soft-core porn and satire. In the case of the original release of Flesh for Frankenstein, it came with the added bonus of 3D. (If only someone would re-issue it in that form so we could see that the apex of the 3D gimmick was reached nearly 40 years ago, with Udo Kier’s liver on the end of a spear dangling over the audience!) Much of the film’s humor is of the so-bad-it’s-good variety—the difference here being that the bad is deliberately bad. It is not accidental that the hero is played by a very out-of-place Brooklynese Joe Dallesandro, or that Udo Kier plays everything at one hysterical pitch, or even that Monique van Vooren just plain can’t act. Perhaps the film’s perversity can be summed up by the simple fact that never once does the name Frankenstein even crop up in this deleriously demented deviation on the story. Not for the squeamish or the prudish.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Flesh for Frankenstein on Thursday, April 19, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.