Flesh for Frankenstein (Paul Morrissey / U.S.-Italy-France, 1973):
(Andy Warhol's Frankenstein; The Devil and Dr. Frankenstein)

The camera descends from a spider's web to welcome the Frankenstein children (Nicoletta Elmi, Marco Liofredi), who rummage through the laboratory and dissect the stuffing out of a doll, finally guillotining it: Their gaze is beguilingly perverse, Paul Morrissey adopts it for the rest of his mordant analysis. The Baron (Udo Kier) experiments with body parts in search of the new Adam and Eve, his wanton wife is also his sister, poised between Sylvia Miles and Madeleine Kahn and essayed, with leonine elegance and no eyebrows, by Monique van Vooren. "I've always looked for beauty... in fact, I insist on it," the Baroness declares, the same goes for Morrissey, whose heightened absurdism is dabbled delicately -- a pile of nude, lifeless juveniles on the lab's tiled floor segues into the lavish dinner table, a lateral tracking shot takes in the opulence and caps it knowingly with a roll of the eyes. Joe Dallesandro and Srdjan Zelenovic are prole pals with matching pimply jaws, the former a Times Square hustler teleported to 19th-century and the latter on his way to becoming a monk; they share a Baudelairian afternoon at the local brothel, where the main jest is patiently set up (Frankenstein needs a head for his stitched-up Adonis, Zelenovic is mistaken for a man "whose overriding urges are sensual" and ambles into a pair of shears). The copious entrails-spillage is lyrically positioned for the 3-D effects and, particularly, the wicked pièce de résistance, with the stitches in the Perfect Woman's (Dalila Di Lazzaro) curving abdominal suture snipped and the doctor finding ecstasy in the new orifice -- Kier delivers his renowned punchline ("To know death, you must fuck life... in the gallbladder") with Bela Lugosi's gravity. Less a break than a continuation in the aesthetics of Flesh and Trash, with some of Morrissey's most extreme views of corporeal commoditization: Armpit-slurping in the bedroom and a pulsating set of guts in a cabinet add up to a furious final tableau, derived adroitly from Shakespeare and Bava's Bay of Blood. With Arno Juerging, and Liu Bosisio.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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