Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 26th, 2018
Theatrical Release Date: France, 1972
Director: Jesus Franco
Writer: Jesus Franco
Cast: Alberto Dalbés, Dennis Price, Howard Vernon, Beatriz Savón, Anne Libert, Fernando Bilbao, Britt Nichols, Luis Barboo, Daniel White, Doris Thomas, Jesús Franco
BluRay Release Date: January 22nd, 2018
Approximate running times: 74 minutes (French “nude” version), 85 minutes (Spanish language “clothed” version)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono French, LPCM Mono English (French “nude” version), LPCM Mono Spanish (Spanish language “clothed” version)
BluRay Release: Nucleus Films
Region Encoding: Region B
Retail Price: £12.99 (UK)
The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein was written and directed by Jess Franco, a prolific filmmaker whose career spanned over seven decades. A few of his more notable films include, Venus in Furs, Vampiros lesbos, She Killed in Ecstasy, Female Vampire and Sinner: Diary of a Nymphomaniac. Key collaborators on The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein include cinematographer Raúl Artigot (The Cannibal Man) and composer Daniel White who worked with Franco more than any other composer.
Content wise, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein is one of three films that are clearly inspired by Universal’s monster movies from the 1930’s and 1940’s. With the other two similar themed films being Dracula’s Daughter and Dracula Prisoner of Frankenstein.
Inspirations aside, this is not your run of the mill homage that brings nothing new to the table. Franco had a knack for taking familiar things and creating something with them that no longer resembled what they once were. And this effortless ability to transform things into wholly new creations also extended to his need to create multiple cuts of a film due to issues related to censorship or where they were being released.
For instance there are two versions of this film, a clothed version with additional scenes that was released in Spain under the title ‘La maldición de Frankenstein’ (The Curse of Frankenstein) and an erotica version that was made for France under the title ‘The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein’. And the differences between these two are more than just adding additional scenes and clothing to scenes originally filmed with nudity. There are a few moments from the French version that were not included with the Spanish version.
And like so many of Franco film’s from this era of his career there would be overlapping of casts and it many instances this was due to him filming actors for multiple films at the same time. The caste for The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein features one of Franco’s most frequent leading men Howard Vernon (The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus, Diabolical Doctor Z.) in the role of an immortal wizard named Cagliostro, Dennis Price (Theatre of Blood) in the role of Dr. Frankenstein, Britt Nichols (The Demons, A Virgin Among the Living Dead) in the role of Madame Orloff and Anne Libert in one role Melisa the bird woman. Also it should be noted that the Spanish version features Lina Romay (Exorcism, The Hot Nights of Linda) in the role of Esmeralda a gypsy woman.
Though there is a clear story that builds to a forgone conclusion. Ultimately the anemic narrative and its short comings play a secondary role to this film’s striking cinematography. Another strength of this film is its haunting soundtrack and use of ambient noises to heighten the mood. Needless to say, the way this film fuses sight and sound creates a surreal experience that is truly unique.
The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors are nicely saturated, flesh tones look accurate, details look sharp, contrast and black levels remain strong throughout and there are no issues with compression. Overall this is the best this film has looked to date on home video.
The French “nude” version comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in French and a LPCM mono mix in English. the Spanish language “clothed” version comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in Spanish. All of the audio mixes sound, clear and balanced throughout. Included with this release are English subtitles for the French and Spanish language audio tracks.
Extras for this release include, an image gallery, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 22 seconds, in French with English subtitles), an interview with Stephen Thrower author of Murderous Passions – The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco titled The Rites of Franco (26 minutes 27 seconds) and the Spanish language “clothed” version of The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein.
Topics discussed in the interview with Stephen Thrower include, Jess Franco’s film’s that were inspired by Universal Monster films, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein and alternate titles that is has been released under, Fumetti (Italian comics) and how they influenced several of Jess Franco’s films, Howard Vernon, Anne Libert, producer Robert De Nesle, Jess Franco’s creative process, background information about The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein / locations / the score, background information about the Spanish language “clothed” version and his thoughts about The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein.
Overall The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein gets a definitive release from Nucleus Films, highly recommended.
Note: Stephen Thrower posted this information about Nucleus Films, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein and The Demons, Blu-ray releases on his Facebook page.
“THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE DEMONS: two peak period Jess Franco movies that no serious fan should be without, now available from Nucleus Films and featuring on camera interviews with yours truly! I’d also say that these two films are well worth buying if you’re curious about Franco but uncertain about where to start. Some will counsel caution and recommend the slightly more sober and conventional 1960s titles, but to hell with all that. Why not throw caution to the wind and grab these two – they’ll give you a fantastic insight into his freewheeling style in the 1970s.
Nucleus majordomo Marc Morris has done a huge amount of extraordinary work restoring THE DEMONS in particular. Here’s a list of some of the work he’s done which viewers and reviewers may not otherwise be aware of:
1. Incorrect aspect ratios on numerous shots fixed throughout.
2. White line frames removed throughout.
3. The soundtrack was out of synch throughout (sometimes by as much as 6 seconds). Marc has fixed this.
4. The soundtrack was missing audio, and in these scenes had been badly looped. Marc has located audio from alternate sources and replaced the annoying looped audio with correct audio where possible.
5. There was some German dialogue on the French soundtrack, which Marc has replaced with the correct French dialogue.
7. There were numerous instances of actors speaking with no dialogue heard on the soundtrack – now fixed.
8. There were numerous instances of dialogue spoken, with the actors’ mouths not moving – now fixed.
9. The dissolve from face freeze frame to skull was completely missing – Marc has added this back.
10. He has also created from scratch an English language master, which is believed to match the original English language export version.
11. German Trailer – On the Kino Blu-ray, this was incorrectly dubbed with random French audio from the movie. This has been replaced with the original German soundtrack.
12. Marc has also corrected the frame rates from 23.976 fps to 24 fps, so if you have exquisitely perfect musical pitch the soundtrack will now match your LP record of Jean-Michel Lorgère’s Trafic Pop!
And finally, look out for the startling fx shot included in the French trailer for Erotic Rites of Frankenstein which as far as I can recall doesn’t appear in any currently available version of the film. Face-ripping!”
Spanish language “clothed” version