Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 12th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: France, 1972
Director: Jesus Franco
Writers: Jesús 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 released: July 28th, 2015
Approximate running times: 74 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono French
BluRay Release: Kino Lorber / Redemption Films
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: On the verge of successfully reanimating the dead, Dr. Frankenstein and his assistant Morpho are murder by minions sent by his rival an immortal wizard named Cagliostro.
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 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. For this release a brand new HD transfer was created from the film’s original 35mm negative.
This release from Redemption Films would mark my third home video release for this title and the first for its fully unclothed French release version. The previous U.S. DVD release came from Image Entertainment in 2005 and that version clocks in at 85 minutes 26 seconds – NTSC running time, while the German DVD from X-Rated Kult clocks in at 81 minutes 47 seconds – PAL running time. The difference in running time between these release which both present the Spanish version and Redemption Films release which presents the French version is the addition of a Gypsy character who is portrayed by Lina Romay for the Spanish version.
When comparing all three of these versions there are marked improvements in many areas in regards to Redemption Films transfer for the film. Most notably is improved image clarity, which is most noticeable during darker / nighttime scenes which at times on those other two releases looked murky. Also there are no issues with compression and DNR is kept in check.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in French and a DTS-HD mono mix in English. There are no issues with distortion, background noise / hiss is minimal and dialog always comes through clearly. Range wise these two audio mixes are rather limited, with the bulk of the mix front and center. Both of these audio mixes are adequate tracks that more then get the job done. Also this release comes with removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (3 minutes 23 seconds, in French with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with film critic / author Time Lucas. Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, how this film is part of a loose trilogy Dracula’s Daughter and Dracula Prisoner of Frankenstein, the cast and other Franco films that they have appeared in, locations featured in the film, how there are two versions of this film; the French cut of the film being Franco’s preferred version and a Spanish version of the film that has additional scenes and is also known for being the clothed version, other film adaptions of Frankenstein and how Franco’s French version is a more adult version due to France allowing more graphic sexual content and his thoughts about the film.
Franco was often known to film several versions of a film and including the Spanish version of the film would have greatly added to this release. And though there has been two aforementioned releases that contain said Spanish version, unfortunately both of these are not from HD sources. Overall The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein gets a strong release from Redemption Films.
Note: This film is also being released by Kino Lorber / Redemption Films on DVD.