Thursday, September 25, 2008

Overlooked Movies: Blood for Dracula and Flesh for Frankenstein

The Udo Kier double feature!

Flesh for Frankenstein

"You have to fuck life in the gall bladder! I made that up! The thing about "Frankenstein" is that it was my first big film, for Andy Warhol, Paul Morrissey, So I asked if a doctor could come to the studio to give me lessons in Latin and teach me technical terms, something people learn in ten years, I wanted to learn in one day! But I learned all of the Latin words, I didn't know what a gall bladder was! So I mixed everything: "Manum" and "Nazum", I was completely crazy!" ~Udo Kier on Frankenstein

In Serbia, Baron Frankenstein lives with the Baroness and their two children. He dreams of a super-race, returning Serbia to its grand connections to ancient Greece. In his laboratory, assisted by Otto, he builds a desirable female body, but needs a male who will be superbody and superlover. He thinks he has found just the right brain to go with a body he's built, but he's made an error, taking the head of a gay aesthete. Meanwhile, the Baroness has her lusts, and she fastens on Nicholas, a friend of the dead lad. Can the Baron pull off his grand plan? He brings the two zombies together to mate. Meanwhile, Nicholas tries to free his dead friend. What about the Baron's children?

We dare you to see...
Brings The Horror Off The Screen... And Into Your Lap.

Fun Trivia:
In the early 1970s director Roman Polanski and producer Andrew Braunsberg, were toying with the idea of working on a new version of the Frankenstein legend, and particularly keen to produce it in 3-D. Braunsberg had approached Paul Morrissey, Andy Warhol’s then-manager and co-founder of The Factory arts workshop, to collaborate on the venture. Unfortunately Polanski then to abandon the project to finish 2 other productions he was committed to (What! and Chinatown) and so Morrissey took over the directorial reins of Frankenstein.

Andy Warhol's name was added to the title of both Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula for promotional and exploitation purposes. Morrissey shared his profit participation with Andy even though he had virtually nothing to do with the making of the films. This marketing gimmick backfired however for Morrissey when Warhol's connection was promoted above all else to the extent that the actual director’s own contributions were almost completely ignored. This caused a great deal of acrimony between Warhol and Morrissey and eventually led to the latter formally severing ties with The Factory shortly after the release of the films.

While Polanski was still attached to the project, Tonino Guerra who famously wrote Fellini's Amarcord and Antonioni's Blowup was commissioned to write a treatment. Morrissey and another Factory writer Pat Hackett wrote the final screenplay based on Guerra's treatment.

Originally filmed in Spacevision 3-Dimensional, although most video presentations found today are in 2D.

Dalila di Lazzarro Flesh's "Bride of Frankenstein" later played the bitchy headmistress of Jennifer Connelly’s boarding school in Argento’s Phenomena.

Fun Quotes:
Baron Frankenstein: To know life Otto, you have to fuck death... in the gall bladder!

Baron Frankenstein: The medical profession would love to claim my achievement as part of their own and call it a giant stride forward of medicine. But they can't. It is a giant stride forward for me!

Baron Frankenstein: We failed! That beautiful Serbian female! Everybody would have jumped - everyone! But maybe that head of that... creature wasn't any good! His perfect nose! His perfect nose! He has the perfect brain, he was the king I wanted, and we failed! We have to try it again! Otto, we have to try it again! I am going to prove that we can do it! We waited for so long!

Blood for Dracula
"I really did starve myself. I did not eat. I had salad or steak sometimes and that's why I'm sitting in a wheelchair in DRACULA: because I really couldn't stand up anymore. I was really weak -- which I liked."~ Udo Kier on playing Dracula

A sickly and dying Count Dracula, who must drink virgin blood to survive, travels from Transylvania to Italy. With a shortage of virgins in Romania and thinking he will be more likely to find a virgin in a Catholic country, Dracula befriends Marchese di Fiori, an impecunious Italian landowner who, with a lavish estate falling into decline, is willing to marry off one of his four daughters to the wealthy aristocrat. You know what happens next...

He couldn't live without a virgin's blood..... ...So a virgin had to die!

Fun Trivia:
The X-rated version contains a bunch more gore as well as a cameo by Director Roman Polanski who was filming What? on a nearby Italian set. He wears the same mustache in both films.

Polanski's cameo happened quite by accident, according to Kier. "Polanski agreed to appear in a cameo because I went away. I had promised a friend of mine, a German director that I would appear in his film. And I kept my promise. So I went away, for one day, and they didn't know what to shoot without me. That's why they shot the scene with my assistant [Arno Juerging] and Polanski. It was not only Polanski in that scene but also Gerard Brach [Polanski's screenwriter], the producer [Andrew Braunsberger] and writer, and all of Polanski's friends. It was a very important day, actually. I went to Austria, played a poet in my friend's film, and came back to shoot."

Italian director Vittorio De Sica also has a role in the film as the old world aristocratic Marchese de Fiori one of the unwitting parents trying to to regain social status through the marriage of one of their daughters.

The Camera Operator was Ubaldo Terzano, a Mario Bava mainstay serving as cinematographer for such classics as Black Sunday, Black Sabbath, & Blood and Black Lace he was also Camera Operator for Dario Argento's Deep Red. The locations employed on this film were also utilized previously for Flesh for Frankenstein as both films were shot back to back.

Kier spoke of the locations to David Del Valle. When asked if the locations were famous villas, he remarked, "Well, Frankenstein was more or less all done at Cinecitta, in the studio. Dracula was done in an actual castle in Frascati, where the famous wine comes from. And it was fabulous because this castle actually had its own story. The owner of the castle was in a madhouse, and his family was renting it out to film crews to make money so they could pay his hospital bills. It was very funny; at one point there were two different film crews working in the same building. Once I went out of a door, dressed as Dracula, and I came out through a secret door, and found myself in the middle of another set, with the cameras running! So I ran in, said "I'm sorry," and I got out! Unfortunately they were not clever enough to keep my little cameo in their film!"

In Italy the credit for both films was assigned to Antonio Margheriti, who in English versions is listed as an assistant director, second unit director and effects makeup man but Margheriti's name was probably used only to circumvent Italian labor regulations. Kier has stated that he and the other cast members received direction only from Morrissey, and noted that he never saw Margheriti on the set. It took decades for Paul Morrissey to be firmly established as the real director of Blood for Dracula.

The combined budget for both films was $800,000.

The actor who played Dracula's manservant Anton, Arno Juerging took his own life shortly after the film's completion in despair over the death of his mother, to whom he was severely attached.

Fun Quotes:
Count Dracula: The blood of these whores is killing me.

Anton, the Count's Servant: Things look promising.
Count Dracula: O, you think so? I have no coffin to sleep in, the kitchen is full with impure meat, we've been travelling for days... No progress!

Rubinia: Well, if you must know, this man is obsessed with marrying a virgin.
Mario Balato, the Servant: O well, you didn't tell me this. So what's he doin' with you two whores?

Mario Balato, the Servant: You should lose that... uh... virginity of yours before he gets to you.


Anonymous said...

I never cared for FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN but BLOOD FOR DRACULA is one of the better Drac movies.

Ever see Paul Morrissey's version of HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES with Peter Cook & Dudley Moore? Hilarious yet surprisingly faithful to the original!

Becca said...

I haven't seen that version yet but It's been on the to watch list for a bit now. After seeing Drac and Frank I'm really curious to see how Morrissey handles comedy.

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