The Film (4/5)
It's been just a handful of years since the death of Jess Franco left a huge gap in the world of classic exploitation cinema. Granted, the era that the greatest of bizarre cult and exploitation has past by decades, but even at the end Franco was churning out his distinct brand of films, not always to great success, but always unique, and always marked by his style.
The last few months have seen excellent Franco releases from Severin and Redemption, and those will seemingly continue to next month's release of Franco's Devil Hunter on Blu through Severin making that the fourth month in a row that a Franco film has come to Region A Blu-ray, making this a sort of "Summer of Franco." This month Redemption Films through their partnership with Kino Lorber will be releasing his 1972 spin on Mary Shelley's most famous creation, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein in it’s 72 minute French cut. This version of the film has the nudity that was censored out of other versions intact.
Jess Franco's early 70's period is the director at his most free, and unhinged, and the results of his films during this period are spectacular. Erotic Rites of Frankenstein is a lesser known effort from that run of films, but while underrated shows Franco at the height of his formidable abilities. The film has a plot that though bizarre is fairly straightforward that Franco uses to create some wonderful imagery from a silver monster, to skull faced worshippers in monk's robes. The film uses colors in a context that could be associated with Mario Bava, and later Dario Argento, and used to great performs the part well. The remaining cast is filled with Franco regulars who handle their parts similarly well, and help to effectively bring Franco’s vision to life.
Erotic Rites of Frankenstein could effectively be considered a merging of Franco's early 1970's cinema with elements of his earlier Diabolical Dr. Z in the world of Mary Shelley. The film opens with Dr. Frankenstein (Dennis Price) experimenting on a corpse with his assistance Morpho (Jess Franco). After a few minutes they manage to resurrect the corpse, who awakens in pain, and screams. Their victory against death is short lived, as moments later they are murdered by the mysterious Melisa, and the newly resurrected monster is kidnapped. Melisa, as it turns out is not working on her own, but under the employ of Cagliostro. Cagliostro wants the monster to kidnap local virgins, so we can dismember them, reassemble their bodies, and resurrect the result to be the perfect mate for Frankenstein's monster so they can breed, and create something unseen in this world.
Redemption Films presents Jess Franco's Erotic Rites of Frankenstein with a very solid 2:35:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The film looks quite good with excellent detail, colors are solid, though a bit faded in places, and black levels are deep. There is a nice grain structure present on the transfer, and only some minor instances of damage from the source.
The audio is presented 2 ways, with a LPCM 2.0 track in English and another in French with optional subtitles. Both tracks are quite good with dialogue, score, and effects coming through nicely.
There aren't many extras on the release, but what's here is substantial. We get a feature length commentary by Video Watchdog editor Tim Lucas that goes into great detail about the film, it's place in Franco's filmography, the production, and more. Redemption include a 3 minute trailer for the film, that also has a commentary by Tim Lucas.
A very fantastic, underrated film by director Franco. The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein is an absolute blast, and the Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.