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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Rock 'n' Roll Frankenstein: SE
Rock 'n' Roll Frankenstein: SE
POPcinema // Unrated // September 24, 2002
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by G. Noel Gross | posted October 13, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
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Without Liberace there'd be no Vegas-era Elvis. No sequined jumpsuits. No silk scarves. No outrageous jewelry. That's right, it was Mr. Showmanship himself who schooled The King, for better or for worse, on how to hold court among the jiggling showgirls and jangling slots of Sin City. That's the Elvis Presley writer, director and neuvo CineSchlocker idol Brian O'Hara brilliantly lampoons in his fiendishly irreverent, gloriously gruesome Rock 'n' Roll Frankenstein (1998, 88 minutes, Unrated version). Who even knew it was still possible to make an original, outrageously hilarious spin on ol' Boltneck?! After James Whale's immortal Frankenstein there was Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein and those were all BEFORE we dropped the Big One in WWII. And who will EVER forget Al Adamson's drive-in favorite Dracula vs. Frankenstein or Frank Henenlotter's classick Frankenhooker? Heck, even the blaxploitation era birthed Blackenstein! Point is, this is exceedingly well-mined territory, yet O'Hara expertly manages to simultaneously pay tribute to this rich history while shooting it the finger and jerking the wheel down a deliriously sick, twisted and danged entertaining new road.

The movie: When his last client walks, music promoter Bernie Stein (Barry Feterman) cajoles the family mad scientist, Frankie (Jayson Spence), into a grisly scheme to create the perfect rock star -- one piece at a time. They cannibalize crypts of legends like Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly, Sid Vicious, Keith Moon and, straight from his backyard plot at Graceland, even Elvis. Despite Bernie's desperation-fueled enthusiasm for the project, mild-mannered Frankie continually urges caution, after all, his most successful experiment thus far is a red-eyed, reanimated RAT named Mr. Peepers who despite being a good listener, looks like something an alley cat might projectile puke, gobble up and upchuck again. Yet Frankie dutifully stitches all the meaty chunks of corpse together. Jimi's hands. Sid's hiney. The King's 'do. Then Bernie proclaims his made-to-order star MUST have sex appeal! So off goes his Tommy Chong-esque sidekick Iggy (Hiram Segarra) to relieve Jim Morrison's manhood from the world's most extensive collection of celebrity phalli. But an errant dip in a jar of acid wilts said weenie forcing drug-addled Iggy to IMPROVISE with comically inspired results. While Frankie's Monster, affectionately dubbed King (Graig Guggenheim), is indeed ALIVE, he's also mighty conflicted. This literally recycled rock 'n' roll icon becomes a nearly overnight sensation, but the first sign of trouble comes, oddly enough, at a pet shop. It seems King harbors a deep fondness for gerbils! He really, REALLY likes them. And, later, when pawed backstage by a buxom, horn'd up groupie, he's anxious to indulge his long dormant lust, but there's none of the expected stirring in his loins. At least not at the sight of female flesh. You see, as King so aptly whines, he's been saddled with a "fruity pecker." Therein lies the, ahem, wackiness. A heterosexual rocker at odds with his homosexual equipment that soon starts TALKING to and coercing King into indulging its "unnatural urges." CineSchlockers will love Guggenheim's understated Elvis schtick and doughy naivete that adeptly milk gut laughter even while he's GUTTING folks on screen. Jayson Spence also gives a virtuoso one-note performance as a meek, ineffectual Frankie who enjoys working with human remains a bit TOO much. Oh and, yep, that's O'Hara's voice emanating from below the belt.

Notables: Four breasts. Five corpses. Reanimated cow head. Rampant toking. Gratuitous fast mo. Pickled wangdoodles. Sack O' fetuses. Oral gratification. Gratuitous photo shoot AND rise-to-success montage. Serial phone sex. Booze guzzling. Head crushing. Angry man love. Gratuitous urination. Giant crucifix to the hindquarters.

Quotables: Iggy proudly declares, "A mind is a terrible thing not to get wasted!" King breaks down, "Everything's wrong! I just don't like anything about myself! I mean, LOOK at me! I got jig hands. My legs are too short and I can't STAND my hair!" But finds solace in his music, "I got a funny urge / I don't know how to purge / I'm of two different minds / Giving conflicting signs / I'm feeling so confused / I got the B-O-N-E-R blues."

Time codes: Iggy and pals salvage spare parts (8:19). Lightening bolts herald the birth of The Monster (17:10). King's first public performance (35:05). Frankie's highly scientific work demands only the LATEST in computer technology (45:35). King has a man-to-penis chat whilst on his porcelain throne (46:46). Possible punishment for ALL pedophile priests? (1:05:38). Surrounded by the rodents he adores, our hero's journey takes a ghastly turn (1:23:55).

Audio/Video: Tragically, this transfer has been CROPPED to fullframe from the original widescreen. Festival footage in the bonus material clearly shows the flick being screened in 1.85:1, which only confirms suspicions raised by obviously cramped compositions. Utilitarian stereo track is remarkably crisp and especially showcases the Monster Mashin' tunes.

Extras: Brain-rattling, yet still illuminating and downright silly commentary by O'Hara, Guggenheim, Segarra, director of photography Jay Hillman and producer Steve McLaughlin. The homegrown track is bursting with audio confusion due to the movie soundtrack being dialed much too high coupled with the inherent difficulty of discerning between five male voices all talking over each other. But hang in as it gets easier to fathom by about, oh, the last 20 minutes or so. Certainly worth the headache. A behind-the-scenes reel documents setup and execution of key special effects -- often again and again until the gag finally works (22 mins). Probably most interesting to CineSchlockers will be the unique methods employed to market this sub-zero budget picture. Such as encouraging vagrants to stake movie posters to their shopping carts as they wander the streets of New York. Or there's some great shots of O'Hara stuffing condoms with tiny plastic gerbils and attaching promo cards. It's far from a slick production, but high on fan-friendly content. Also, there's a music video for "I'm a Monster" (2 mins).

As is this distributor's habit, the cover and menu imagery has very little to do with the content. Here it's a sultry blonde clutching an electrified, boltnecked, GREEN Elvis in front of a CASTLE!!! Neither of whom appear in the flick. The marketing folks have also "spiffed up" the original movie title with an ampersand. Yet it's hard to stay too miffed when wading through the ultra-generous trailer vault featuring this fine flick, Psycho Sisters, Demoness, Cremains, The Night Divides the Day, Demon Lust, Santa Claws, Vamps, Nurse Sherri, My Vampire Lover, Erotic Vampire in Paris, Erotic Survivor 2, Vampire Obsession, Erotic Mirror, Roxanna, Pleasures of a Woman, Female Animal, Inga, Seduction of Inga, Play-Mate of the Apes, Witchbabe: Erotic Witch III, Erotic Witch II: Book of Seduction, Misty Mundae: Mummy Raider, TITanic 2000, Gladiator Eroticus, Sexy 6th Sense and Mistress Frankenstein.

Final thought: This instant exploitation classick is an absolute must-own for any self-respecting CineSchlocker. Bring on the sequel!!! Highly Recommended.

Check out CineSchlock-O-Rama
for additional reviews and bonus features.

G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.
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