Sunday, September 9, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Frankenstein Island (1981 - but you'd never know it from looking at the movie)

I don't really know where to start.


To explain, we watched the VOD version of this movie from RiffTrax with Doug, and he was right - the new VOD stuff RiffTrax is doing is every bit as good as the better MST3K stuff.

While the RiffTrax guys strayed from the world of punching-bag-bad movies and have stepped up to big budget Hollywood stuff in this format (and absolutely killed with it), it's still fun to see the old tools come out and see these guys at work.

So...  Frankenstein Island (1981).  

Oh, John Carradine, even your unused b-roll deserved better...

There are many things one could say about this movie, and among those things is the idea I find inescapable that director Jerry Warren, who had spent the mid-50's through the mid-60's creating the exact sort of movie that wound up on MST3K in the first place, was sitting around with his pals and said "Hey, let's do one more!  It'll be great.  Let's make a movie!" and this is what happened.  And so, in a way, I really hope those guys had fun making the movie, because it makes no sense and it's both mind-boggling and boring.

A crew of hot air balloonists (and their dog) are on a 'round the world trip (I don't know) when the balloon crashes and they find themselves on an island populated by (in pulp-film style) leopard bikini'd girls speaking in short, choppy sentences.  Also, there are two really awful looking pirates, zombie-guys dressed like cat burglars in ladies' sunglasses, footage of John Carradine superimposed occasionally over the movie, Dr. Von Helsing still alive and the last living descendant of Victor Frankenstein, Sheila Frankenstein.  That's right.  Sheila Frankenstein.

Ladies, you now have your nom de guerre.

Sheila offers up some brandy and cleavage to our balloon-wrecked heroes

I really have no idea what happens in the movie, and just trying to piece together the movie is kind of making my head hurt.  But suffice it to say, the not-yet-then-dead John Carradine got top billing as the leftover footage from another movie, and eventually The Monster does appear, and he looks terrible.  But you have to wait 80 minutes into the movie before he shows.  Before that, there are innumerable shots of our oddly gray and silver-maned cast walking from place to place in single file.

Like I said, I sort of think the director just knew these people from around Hollywood and said "let's make one of those crazy 'jungle girl island' pictures and just throw in the kitchen sink!"  Short a budget, lighting, convincing performances or a script, they did make that picture, indeed.

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