This is a great film -- no kidding!
Patrick W. Crabtree | Lucasville, OH USA | 04/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you enjoy either old westerns or 40s and 50s horror films, you'll probably love this one. I first saw it on Turner Classic Movies and, at the outset, I had low expectations but, boy, was I fooled!
Clearly, it's a "cult film" of sorts but the film quality is great and the story is a good one. The acting is very good, not hokey at all. It's shot in very high quality color and the aspect is full-screen.
The story: Frankenstein's daughter has escaped Bavaria and has set up shop in a small Western town in the boondocks where she can prey on poor Mexicans to carry out her dad's heinous experiments with the human body. She has a very cool castle built just out of town. This gal is a pure proto-Nazi!
Meanwhile, the amiable bank robber, Jesse James is carrying out his trade when his partner gets wounded and they end up at the Frankenstein Castle for first-aid. BAD CHOICE OF DOCTORS!!!!
The sub-plots are that Jesse is trying to form a new gang (there's some treachery within) and, also, that he falls in love with a beautiful Mexican gal who helps out with the domestic work at the Castle. It all meshes very nicely.
If only out of curiosity, I much encourage you to watch this fine film.
See my Listmania List ("Superb Westerns!") for more good ones.
"I want no credit for the terrible things we are doing here,
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 11/08/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Interestingly enough the line of dialog I used for the title of this review could very easily apply to the film itself as I doubt anyone involved in making this movie was particularly proud once it was released. I had read Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966) was released on a double bill with the film Billy the Kid versus Dracula (1966), both of which were written by writer/producer Carl K. Hittleman (The Return of Jesse James) and directed by William Beaudine (Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla). Now I have yet to see Billy the Kid versus Dracula, but if it's anything like Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter, which I watched last night, I can see why the western/horror hybrid genre never really took off as this film bites it big and bites it hard. Appearing in the film is John Lupton (Man with the Gun), Narda Onyx, Estelita Rodriguez (The Fabulous Senorita), Steven Geray (Spellbound), Cal Bolder, Rayford Barnes (The Three Stooges in Orbit), and Jim Davis (The Big Sky), probably best know as the character `Jock' Ewing from the television series "Dallas".
As the movie begins we learn Maria and her brother Rudolph Frankenstein, played by Onyx and Geray respectively, both of whom are doctors and grandchildren to the original Frankenstein, have taken up residence in an abandoned Spanish mission somewhere in the American southwest for two reason, the first being they were chased out of Europe for their questionable experiments, and the second being the abundance of lightning storms in the area are conducive to their experiments (apparently they've picked up where their grandfather left off, sort of...). Anyway, the experiments aren't going so well as their test subjects, culled from the Hispanic population in the area, keep croaking, eventually driving off the superstitious and fearful peasants (Maria attributes the failures to the lack of good, strong body to work with). Now we switch gears and meet legendary outlaw Jesse James (Lupton) and his muscle bound, meathead companion Hank (Bolder), during a seemingly low point in their careers. Jesse and Hank get an offer from a group called The Wild Bunch (three men, two of them pushing into old age, hardly makes a bunch much less a `wild' bunch, in my opinion) to join them and rob a bank shipment, but the double cross is in and Hank gets wounded. With the help of a spicy senorita name Juanita (Rodriguez), whose brother died under mysterious circumstances at the hands of the Frankensteins, Jesse takes Hank to the mission, presenting Maria Frankenstein with just the test subject she needs. There's some lovey, dovery junk between Juanita and Jesse (Maria ends up getting the hots for Jesse which develops into a severe case of jealously as Jesse only has eyes for Juanita), and eventually Maria and Rudolph get around to performing some brain salad surgery on Hank (none of which is shown), whom they now refer to as Igor...geez...anyway, Jesse gets double crossed again, the law begins snooping around, and things come to a head once Jesse realizes what Maria and Rudolph did to his friend...actually, I didn't see the big deal as they turned Jesse's friend from a mindless, moronic, monosyllabic hulk named Hank into a bald, mindless, moronic, monosyllabic hulk named Igor.
First off I think it's worth mentioning the very title of this film is flawed in that the character in the film wasn't Frankenstein's daughter, but his granddaughter, at least if you're following the plot. Seems a pretty obvious error, but given the shoddy nature of the feature, I suppose it doesn't really matter much as a cruddy film is a cruddy film, no matter what its called. Going into this film my expectations were pretty low as I was mainly hoping for some schlocky fun, but what I got was an extreme exercise in the tedious. Seriously, this film is incredibly boring, exacerbated mainly by the fact the filmmakers took roughly twenty minutes of material and stretched it out to nearly an hour an a half. I'm sure whomever came up with the idea to blend horror elements with western elements together was probably pretty pleased with himself thinking it'd be pure gold, but the execution here leaves a lot to be desired. In reality this film is two parts western film, one part monster movie (we have to wait for an hour before actually seeing the monster), the two never quite meshing together. The performances weren't all that great (Cal Bolder, who played the character Hank, could have easily been substituted with a tree stump), but then again the material was thoroughly rotten so I can't really fault the actors too much. Some of the actors tend to get quite hammy, Ms. Onyx for one, but there was never an over the top aspect I was hoping for to at least spice up the tedium. As far as the directing, the action sequences, what few of them there were, were as dull as dishwater. I think my favorite aspect of the story came early on, when Maria Frankenstein reveals her less than lofty motive behind trying to duplicate her grandfather's experiments. Where her grandfather had visions of creating life from where there was none, Maria seems only interested in creating a hulking minion she can order about, I guess to perform various menial tasks she wouldn't do herself (empty the garbage pails, sweep the floors, kill the occasional intruder, etc.). All in all this is a flavorless, uninteresting feature, one that's about as much fun as a rectal examination with a rusty salad fork.
The picture on this Alpha Video DVD release, presented in fullscreen (1.33:1), looks decent, for an Alpha Video release (the company seems to specialize in releasing public domain features inexpensively onto to DVD and the quality, in terms of presentation, generally stinks). The audio comes across a bit better, at least enough to hear most of the dialog with few problems. As far as extras there's the usual visual listing of Alpha Video DVD releases along with a slew of trailers for some low budget, independent releases, none of which appear very interesting or worthwhile. There are a number of different DVD releases for this film including one with a commentary track with Joe Bob Briggs, released by Elite Entertainment. If you're interested in seeing this film, I'd suggest seeking that version out, as watching the movie with his commentary has to be better than watching it straight up, as I did...
The other half of the "Billy the Kid vs. Dracula" twin-bill
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 08/31/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I think it is safe to say that many more people have heard about "Billy the Kid versus Dracula," the 1966 drive-in flick that had John Carradine hamming it up as the vampire count who is involved in a love triangle with the infamous American outlaw suddenly turned good guy, than have actually seen the film. But somehow I managed to remain ignorant of "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter," made by the same writer (Carl K. Hittleman) and same director (William Beaudine) that same year (1966). Part of the reason that this film has seeped through the cracks of pop culture history is that it lacks the redeeming campy nature of the other film, which was at least laughably bad. This one will just make you wince.
"Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter" flips the situation of "Billy the Kid versus Dracula" with the cowboy coming to the monster this time around. Jesse James (John Lupton) is being pursued by Marhsal MacPhee (Jim Davis; that is right, Jock Ewing himself), so he hides out in Baron Frankenstein's hacienda, which is now being run by his granddaughter Maria (Narda Onyx) and her brother Rudolph (Steven Geray), both of whom have pretty bad fake German accents. She is a chip off the old mad scientist's block, and promptly turns Jesse's less than intelligent sidekick, Hank Tracy (Cal Bolder), into a bald zombie now named Igor. She has been experimenting with brain transplants on the local young boys and that has not been working out so well.
Believe it or not "historically" this film takes place between the disastrous James gang attempt to rob a bank in Northfield, Minnesota and Jesse's death (Jesse even calls himself "Mr. Howard"). There is also the Wild Bunch, led by Butch Curry, so that a large part of this film is a relatively straightforward western. It is only when Hank needs a doctor that Jesse ends up over at the Frankenstein place; however, I defy you to explain why Juanita (Estelita Rodriquez) would take anybody back there now that she has finally succeeded in getting away from the crazy sibling tag team. This film is literally a collision between these two genres, like Hittleman wrote two scripts for two different genres and then mixed them together.
If for some reason you feel compelled to watch this film, then I would strongly suggest you check out the DVD version, which benefits from being presented by Joe Bob Briggs. That alone has got to double the entertainment value of watching "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter." If you decided to do a drive-in double feature by screening both this one and "Billy the Kid versus Dracula," the order in which you view the two films is pretty much irrelevant (i.e., I have no opinion on which order would either provide the most fun or result in the least amount of harm to your cinematic sensibilities)."