Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (1974)

X | 95 mins | Horror | 1974

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HISTORY

Working titles for the film included Flesh for Frankenstein, The Frankenstein Experiment, Up Frankenstein, and The Devil and Dr. Frankenstein.
       According to a 2 Jan 1996 Village Voice article, director Paul Morrissey first joined Andy Warhol’s Factory in 1965, and served not only as a filmmaker, but as manager to the famous artist-turned-filmmaker, for almost ten years. In 1973, Morrissey directed both Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein and Andy Warhol’s Dracula (1974, see entry) consecutively; however, only Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein was filmed in 3D. The films were shot at Cinecittà studio in Rome, Italy, with financing provided by Carlo Ponti, as noted in a Jul 1974 Coast article. A 14 Jul 1974 NYT article stated that Ponti provided $700,000 for the “two-picture package.”
       In a 3 May 1974 HR article, Morrissey stated that he used a crew of sixty people on the four-week shoot, and prioritized performance issues over the challenges presented by 3D technology. The film was Warhol’s first project to be shot in 35mm, as noted in a 14 Jul 1974 NYT article. According to the Jul 1974 Coast article, the filmmakers utilized Spacevision, a recently developed 3D process that required only a single camera and standard projector, in the place of two cameras and two projectors necessitated by older 3D techniques. In the 3 May 1974 HR article, Morrissey stated that his biggest obstacle on set was not the 3D technology but live sound recording, as Italian crew members were more accustomed to depending on ADR (automated dialogue replacement, ...

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Working titles for the film included Flesh for Frankenstein, The Frankenstein Experiment, Up Frankenstein, and The Devil and Dr. Frankenstein.
       According to a 2 Jan 1996 Village Voice article, director Paul Morrissey first joined Andy Warhol’s Factory in 1965, and served not only as a filmmaker, but as manager to the famous artist-turned-filmmaker, for almost ten years. In 1973, Morrissey directed both Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein and Andy Warhol’s Dracula (1974, see entry) consecutively; however, only Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein was filmed in 3D. The films were shot at Cinecittà studio in Rome, Italy, with financing provided by Carlo Ponti, as noted in a Jul 1974 Coast article. A 14 Jul 1974 NYT article stated that Ponti provided $700,000 for the “two-picture package.”
       In a 3 May 1974 HR article, Morrissey stated that he used a crew of sixty people on the four-week shoot, and prioritized performance issues over the challenges presented by 3D technology. The film was Warhol’s first project to be shot in 35mm, as noted in a 14 Jul 1974 NYT article. According to the Jul 1974 Coast article, the filmmakers utilized Spacevision, a recently developed 3D process that required only a single camera and standard projector, in the place of two cameras and two projectors necessitated by older 3D techniques. In the 3 May 1974 HR article, Morrissey stated that his biggest obstacle on set was not the 3D technology but live sound recording, as Italian crew members were more accustomed to depending on ADR (automated dialogue replacement, or “looping”), and Morrissey intended to use “100% live sound.” Improvisation was not encouraged on set, as it had been on previous Morrissey films, because the horror genre necessitated a more substantial plot. In the HR article, Morrissey stated that the film was delivered within the expected budget and schedule.
       An 11 Apr 1974 DV news item reported that rights to the film were first secured by Herbert Nitke, who formed an entity called Lodi Distributing specifically for the film, to avoid associations with Nitke’s other company which distributed the pornographic film The Devil in Miss Jones (1973). Though Lodi bowed out as the film’s distributor, Nitke “retain[ed] a 50% interest,” along with the new distributor, Bryanston Pictures. According to a 30 Apr 1974 DV news item, Bryanston would premiere Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein on 8 May 1974 in Westwood, CA. The film had previously screened twice as Flesh for Frankenstein at Los Angeles’ Filmex, to sold-out audiences. A 26 Apr 1974 HR news item stated that the film required “a special screen and optical equipment” at each of its engagements.
       Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein was rated X by the MPAA. According to Coast, an MPAA member pointed to the scene in which Baron Frankenstein revives his female monster by having sex with her, and inserting one hand into an incision in her torso, as particularly offensive material that helped earn the X-rating. Though the film remained X-rated throughout its initial release, the MPAA later re-rated it R, as stated in a 14 Jul 1975 Box report.
       The film opened to mixed reviews. The 5 Apr 1974 HR review praised Morrissey’s direction, stating that the 3D technology required to shoot the film helped create a more controlled look than Morrissey had achieved in earlier Warhol films. While the 8 May 1974 LAT review denounced the film’s ironic detachment as “chilling and forlorn,” the 20 May 1974 Newsweek review lauded the film’s intellectual send-up of mainstream audiences’ increasing desire for violence and sex. The film took in $1,003,932 in box office receipts in its first two months of release, as stated in a 14 Jul 1974 NYT article.
       According to a 21 May 1974 HR news item, Bryanston Pictures condemned LAT when the newspaper refused to publish critics’ quotes on advertisements for Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein due to its X-rating. Bryanston vice-president and COO, Ted Zephro, accused LAT of “blatantly censoring public information,” and stated that LAT had defended their policy by explaining that some pornographic filmmakers had invented critics’ quotes to use in their advertisements. Zephro mentioned positive reviews from Playboy, Newsweek, and New York as some of the credible sources for quotes that he would like to see in the advertisements for Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein.
       A 27 Aug 1976 HR news item reported that the film had grossed over $20 million, to that time. Hoping to make another $10 million from a re-issue, Monarch Releasing Corp. purchased the rights to the film with plans to distribute it after another 3D release, Fantastic Invasion of Planet Earth, aka The Bubble (1966, see entry).
       A 10 Mar 1982 Var news item announced that Silverstein International Corp. would be selling all-media rights to both Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein and Andy Warhol’s Dracula to foreign distributors, with screenings scheduled at the American Film Market in Los Angeles, CA, 25 Mar—2 Apr 1982. Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein was available to foreign markets in 3D as well as “flat” versions. According to a 15 Apr 1982 DV news item, Landmark Films planned to reissue Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein in 30 Southern California movie theaters the following day. A 21 Apr 1982 HR report stated that Landmark bought the film from Bryanston Pictures, partly because of a wave in popularity of 3D films, and spent $75,000 to advertise the screenings. After a three-day opening weekend, the rerelease had taken in $300,000 in box office receipts, and Landmark planned to expand the release nationwide.
       According to a 23 Jun 1993 HR article, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY, was restoring Andy Warhol’s feature-length and short films, including Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein. Following the restoration, domestic and foreign “theatrical, TV and home video outlets” would be offered the chance to license the films individually or, in some cases, as packages. HR noted that several stars of Warhol films, including Joe Dallesandro, were expected to promote the restored versions. Proceeds from the sales were to go to the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, specifically towards artists’ grants.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
13 May 1974
p. 4688
Box Office
14 Jul 1975
---
Coast
Jul 1974
p. 65
Daily Variety
11 Apr 1974
p. 1, 4
Daily Variety
30 Apr 1974
---
Daily Variety
15 Apr 1982
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 1974
p. 4, 21
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 1974
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Apr 1974
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 1974
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 1974
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 1976
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 1982
p. 1, 47
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 1993
---
LAHExam
8 May 1974
---
Los Angeles Times
8 May 1974
p. 1, 28
Los Angeles Times
25 Jul 1974
---
New York Times
20 Feb 1974
p. 16
New York Times
16 May 1974
p. 52
New York Times
30 Jun 1974
Section II, p. 1
New York Times
7 Jul 1974
Section II, p. 11
New York Times
14 Jul 1974
---
Newsweek
20 May 1974
p. 105
Rolling Stone
18 Jul 1974
p. 70
Time
10 Jun 1974
---
Variety
27 Feb 1974
p. 18
Variety
10 Apr 1974
p. 30
Variety
10 Mar 1982
---
Village Voice
2 Jan 1996
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Still cam
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
COSTUMES
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus comp and dir by
Rec and published by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Continuity
Tech consultant for Spacevision
1st prod asst
Accountant
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Flesh for Frankenstein
The Devil and Dr. Frankenstein
The Frankenstein Experiment
Up Frankenstein
Release Date:
1974
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 7 May 1974; New York opening: 15 May 1974
Production Date:

Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Widescreen/ratio
3-D
Duration(in mins):
95
MPAA Rating:
X
Countries:
Italy, United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

At his castle, Baron Frankenstein tells his assistant, Otto, that he needs the perfect Serbian nose, and they should be able to find it in town. On the way to his laboratory, Frankenstein runs into his sister Katrin Frankenstein, who is also his wife, and their two children, Monica and Erik. Katrin informs Frankenstein that she had to remove the children from their school, but he interrupts and tells her they’ll discuss it over dinner. At home, Katrin informs her children that she took them out of school because fellow schoolchildren were spreading too many lies about their family. At his laboratory, Frankenstein exhumes a naked, lifeless body from a vat of water. After Otto confirms that he removed the liver and kidneys, the men discard the corpse onto a pile of severed body parts. One day, Nicholas, a worker on Frankenstein’s estate, asks Sacha, a fellow field hand, if he really wishes to become a monk. Nicholas encourages Sacha to have sex before he leaves for the monastery, so that he can understand what he is giving up by becoming celibate. Later, Katrin takes her children for a picnic and happens upon Nicholas who is laying with his lover, a female peasant. Angry, Katrin orders him to report to the castle the next morning. At the laboratory, Frankenstein tells Otto that he needs to find a man with a strong libido, whose head they will use to build a male monster, and says they will find the man at a local brothel. As they sew together body parts, Frankenstein declares that the male monster he creates will fall in love with his female monster, and they will produce ...

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At his castle, Baron Frankenstein tells his assistant, Otto, that he needs the perfect Serbian nose, and they should be able to find it in town. On the way to his laboratory, Frankenstein runs into his sister Katrin Frankenstein, who is also his wife, and their two children, Monica and Erik. Katrin informs Frankenstein that she had to remove the children from their school, but he interrupts and tells her they’ll discuss it over dinner. At home, Katrin informs her children that she took them out of school because fellow schoolchildren were spreading too many lies about their family. At his laboratory, Frankenstein exhumes a naked, lifeless body from a vat of water. After Otto confirms that he removed the liver and kidneys, the men discard the corpse onto a pile of severed body parts. One day, Nicholas, a worker on Frankenstein’s estate, asks Sacha, a fellow field hand, if he really wishes to become a monk. Nicholas encourages Sacha to have sex before he leaves for the monastery, so that he can understand what he is giving up by becoming celibate. Later, Katrin takes her children for a picnic and happens upon Nicholas who is laying with his lover, a female peasant. Angry, Katrin orders him to report to the castle the next morning. At the laboratory, Frankenstein tells Otto that he needs to find a man with a strong libido, whose head they will use to build a male monster, and says they will find the man at a local brothel. As they sew together body parts, Frankenstein declares that the male monster he creates will fall in love with his female monster, and they will produce the first children of a race created entirely by Frankenstein himself. Nicholas and Sacha later visit a brothel, where Nicholas orders one of the prostitutes to have sex with his friend. However, Sacha ignores his prostitute, instead watching Nicholas as he has sex with two others. After a lizard scares the prostitutes outside, Sacha stands in the doorway and encourages the women to come back. Spying on the brothel from afar, Frankenstein spots Sacha and assumes that he was having sex with the two prostitutes and must be quite virile. Frankenstein tells Otto that Sacha is the man they will take. That evening, Sacha and Nicholas walk home through the woods, with Frankenstein and Otto close behind. After Otto clubs Nicholas in the back of the head, Frankenstein decapitates Sacha and declares that his Serbian nose is perfect. The next morning, Nicholas reports to Katrin at her bedroom in the castle. She warns him that she may fire him for improper behavior. Nicholas tells her that he plans to leave anyway, as Sacha was killed the night before. Katrin suggests Nicholas should stay to protect her if there are murderers on the property. She then approaches him and they kiss. While Frankenstein works on his female monster in the laboratory, Katrin has sex with Nicholas. Afterwards, she tells the field hand that he can begin serving dinner in the house. In his laboratory, Frankenstein has sex with the female monster, who is still lifeless, with his hand inside a large incision in her torso. Shortly afterward, Katrin visits Frankenstein’s office to inform her husband that she’s hired Nicholas as their new servant. Later, the children spy on Katrin and Nicholas in bed together. At the laboratory, Frankenstein and Otto animate the monsters with electrical currents, and, in the evening, Otto escorts them to join Frankenstein and his family at the dinner table. As he serves dinner, Nicholas recognizes the male monster as Sacha. In turn, the male monster stares at Nicholas, and Frankenstein notices. Joining Katrin in her bedroom after the meal, Nicholas says that the male dinner guest had Sacha’s face but not his body, and asks her what Frankenstein does in his laboratory. Katrin provides a vague description of Frankenstein’s occupation, saying he works with electricity, and tells Nicholas that the laboratory is closed to anyone but her husband and Otto. Later, the children sneak into the laboratory and find disembodied organs functioning on their own via an electrical contraption. When Frankenstein appears with the female monster, the children sneak into a dungeon to hide. Elsewhere in the laboratory, the maid, Olga, wanders in, and Otto chases her and kills her by ripping out her organs. Frankenstein soon catches Nicholas attempting to sneak into the laboratory and stops him. However, Nicholas seeks out the children who help him find another way in. At the same time, Frankenstein and Otto present the male and female monsters, both naked, to each other. Nicholas and the children spy as Frankenstein orders the female monster to kiss her male counterpart. When the male monster does not exhibit a sexual response to the female, Frankenstein becomes convinced that someone has meddled with his creations. Nicholas wakes Katrin up to tell her that Frankenstein is doing experiments on his friend and the female monster and suggests they escape. Katrin refuses, defending her husband’s experimentation. Nicholas breaks into the laboratory again and talks to the male monster, apologizing for not protecting him on the night of his murder. Meanwhile, Frankenstein arrives at Katrin’s bedroom, and she informs him that Nicholas has been spying on him. In exchange for the information, she demands time with the male monster. Inside the laboratory, Nicholas attempts to free the monsters, but Frankenstein returns in time to stop them and takes Nicholas captive, hanging him by his wrists. Katrin arrives to retrieve the male monster, and Frankenstein shows her his stitches, telling her to be careful with him. Katrin takes the monster back to her bedroom, but when she attempts to have sex with him, he squeezes her too hard and kills her. When Frankenstein steps out of the laboratory, Otto molests the female monster and shoves his hand inside her incision, accidentally destroying her. Frankenstein discovers the body upon his return and kills Otto. Panicking, Frankenstein declares he needs to find a new female. At that moment, the male monster arrives carrying Katrin’s dead body. Frankenstein orders the male monster to kill Nicholas, but the monster attacks him instead. With Frankenstein dead, Nicholas tells the male monster they must go to a doctor together. The monster refuses, and kills himself by pulling out his own organs through the incision on his torso. The children then appear and pick up scalpels. They eye Nicholas, and Erik cranks the contraption that Nicholas is hanging from, lifting him further from the floor.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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