Joe Dallesandro is one of those nexus points for so many movies and parts of culture that I love. Born to a Navy man and a mother who was serving fifteen years in a federal pen for auto theft by the time he was five, Joe went from foster homes to knocking out his high school principal and stealing cars just like his mom. He got shot in the leg and when his dad took him to the hospital, the cops arrested the fifteen-year-old and sent him to the Catskills, specifically the Camp Cass Rehabilitation Center. He escaped within a few months and made it back to New York City where he went from nude modeling to being the star of Warhol’s films.
After roles in Lonesome Cowboys, Trash, Heat and Warhol’s two monster films, Joe decided to stay in Europe where he made all sorts of movies in all the sorts of genres that I love. Yeah, there’s the American The Gardener, as well as Serge Gainsbourg’s Je t’aime moi non plus, Savage Three, Killer Nun, Madness, Le Marge with Sylvia Kristel and many more. He even shows up somehow in Theodore Rex. Yes, the same man whose bulge is on the front of the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers and the cover of The Smiths’ first album was in a movie about dinosaur cops.
Anyways, this is the movie that Joe, who never once gave it away, came to Italy to make with Paul Morrissey.
Baron von Frankenstein (Udo Kier) has made his sister Katrin his wife, yet ignores her as he works to create the perfect human being, going through corpses to men and women to craft his Serbian ideal. You know, when he isn’t literally having sex with the body parts of dead women while shouting, “To know death, Otto, you have to fuck life… in the gall bladder!”
He wants Nicholas (Dallesandro) to be the body for his creature, but he escapes and makes his way to the castle, where he begins to satisfy the Baroness. Once she reveals the fact that she only cares about herself, she betrays him and in return is given what she really wants: The opportunity to have sex with the Baron’s creation, who responds by loving her to death. Another even more graphic scene happens when lab assistant Otto literally screws the guts out of the female monster (Dalila Di Lazzaro, Phenomena) causing the angry Dr. Frankenstein to kill him.
I kind of dig that the end of this film echoes both A Bay of Blood and Manson’s quote about “These children that come at you with knives — they are your children” by having the Frankenstein children holding scalpels that they will either use to help or to hurt. The movie doesn’t tell you what happens next.
That A Bay of Blood comparison is easier to make when you realize that one of the kids is played by one of the adorable and murderous kids from that movie, Nicoletta Elmi. In the 70s, if you wanted a frightening Italian red-headed child, you went with Nicoletta, who also appeared in Baron Blood, Who Saw Her Die?, Deep Red and many more. She also played the red-head usher in Demons when she grew up.
Despite his name being on this film, Andy Warhol’s contributions were minimal. He may have visited the set once and looked at the editing for a brief moment. Perhaps a more involved talent was Antonio Margheriti — Anthony Dawson — who claimed to have directed some of the film. He may have just been there so that the film could claim to be Italian, as it would need a director from the country to obtain Italian nationality for the producers.