Rob Rector polishes and tightens his neck-bolts, to give you another long-forgotten classic, Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks, so prepare for another installment of “Paracinema”!

I, Frankenstein, based on its trailer, looks like another Underworld catastrophe that resurrects yet another Universal Studios monster splashed in a new coat of CGI paint.

I never like judging a book by its cover, but the trailer combined with its early January release date, inspires little confidence. Still, there are many circles of Hell it must still pass through to reach the depths of 1974’s opus Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks, featuring a group of actors sadly clinging to the last strands of their career rope, as this is considered by many to be the worst Frankenstein variation ever put to film.

If, while leafing through Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, you ever thought to yourself, “This is OK, but it could really use more dwarves and boobies!”, well, you’d still be pretty pissed at the results. Former Italian leading man Rossano Brazzi (long past the twilight of his career, and perhaps approaching near midnight) stars as the titular Frankenstein, whose been upgraded to “Count” status. His nubile nymph of a daughter is back from college (or whatever 19th Century equivalent is convenient), and she’s brought a friend, in the shapely form of Krista (let’s forget that the name with that spelling was not even really recognized at that time, but points for it being Germanic in origin!). Krista (played by Christiane Royce) is a science student and the Count are conducting experiments in sexual chemistry of their own (the “yuck” factor is rather high considering the age split).

During their courtship, he reveals his research, which involved reanimating the corpse of a primitive ancestor of man recently killed by local villagers (which was as common as raves apparently back in the day). Krista, who digs sciencey things, takes a shine to waking the dead (obvious, by her choice in men). The Count neglects to tell her that his bodies are taken from fresh graves by his necrophiliac dwarf-counterpart named Genz (played by Michael Dunn). It’s that kind of tiny secret that could really hurt a relationship.

Genz is banished to a nearby cottage where, conveniently, both girls like to take naked dips in the local swimming hole. Genz has been passing the time with a newfound friend, Ook, another Neanderthal living in the area (perhaps the government gave them casinos or something nearby, as they were the “true” natives of the land). The two live an Of Mice and Men Lennie-and-George-like existence, in which they work together in the harsh natural landscape. Just replace “picking crops” with “kidnapping, raping and killing young women” and you get the idea.

The film results in a confrontation between Ook and Goliath, the progeny of Frankenstein’s experiments, who proceeds to challenge Ook to a climactic bitch-slapping contest.
That’s about as freaky as Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks gets (originally titled “Terror! Il Castello Delle Donne Maledette” in its native Italy). Sure, it’s filled with 70s-era flesh and absurd exaggerations that marked the era in low-budget fare, but it’s hard to see just how this has gained the cult status its accumulated over the years. It has been not only cradled between Elvira’s bosoms in 1984, but recently found favor with the Cinematic Titanic crew.

Marked with shoddy lighting, long stretches of … nothing, really, it’s not the wild campy ride of something like 1971’s Dracula vs. Frankenstein, (totally worth digging up if you can find it). It’s an amusing novelty, but there are certainly many other titles in which Frankenstein gets his freak on in much more fantastical ways.

Review by Rob Rector, Film Critic