“But to create life, shouldn’t man leave that to God?” “Here on Earth, man is God.”
Baron Frankenstein (Joseph Cotten) and his assistant Dr. Charles Marshall (Paul Muller) have been working away in the Baron’s laboratory trying to reanimate a dead guy. Frankenstein uses the services of the local grave robber, Tom Lynch (Herbert Fux), and his minions to procure the bodies he needs for his experiments.
The Baron’s daughter Tania (Rosalba Neri) returns home from her studies as a doctor. Now officially she is Dr. Frankenstein. She is greeted by her father and Dr. Marshall. Also at the estate is a handsome but retarded man named Thomas Stack (Marino Mase) who does chores for The Baron. When The Baron and Dr. Marshall are working in the lab Tania comes in and sees the experiment The Baron is working on. The Baron is upset but Tania tells him that she always understood that what he was working on was not experiments using animals but that he was trying to resurrect the dead. She also wants to help her father in his experiments.
When a criminal named Jack Morgan (Petar Martinovitch) is hanged Lynch and his cronies deliver the corpse to Frankenstein. The Baron and Dr. Marshall finally succeed in bringing their creation back to life. Unfortunately Morgan’s brain was damaged and now The Creature (Riccardo Pizzuti) goes on a rampage starting with The Baron. The Creature next attacks a couple lovers. The man gets away but the woman is drowned. The Creature goes on to kill whoever it can get its hands on.
The head of the local police, Captain Harris (Mickey Hargitay), is called to the Frankenstein estate. Dr. Marshall and Tania tell him that a robber broke in and killed Tania’s father. Captain Harris is very suspicious of their story.
Not the least bit put off by any of this Tania wants to continue her father’s work. While The Creature is rampaging the countryside she convinces the love struck Dr. Marshall to offer his brain to be put into the body of Thomas the gentle idiot. Of course they will have to kill Thomas first. If the operation is successful then Tania gets the handsome Thomas with the brain of the doctor. It’s win win for her.
“Lady Frankenstein” was released in 1971 in Italy, 1973 in the U.S. and was directed by Mel Welles and an uncredited Aureliano Luppi. It is an Italian horror film. The U.S. release was shorter by fifteen minutes. I assume they cut out all the sexy parts but I could be wrong. There are different versions of the film out there. The original is 99 minutes long. Some are a little as 83 minutes long. Youtube has a version that is almost totally restored and in good shape.
The film was largely financed through Harry Cushing, but just prior to the start of filming a letter of credit from a film company was not accepted by the Italian banks. The final last-minute $90,000 needed to make the film was obtained from Roger Corman's New World Pictures so technically it is a Roger Corman production even though he was a last minute add on and is uncredited.
The movie is sometimes compared to the Hammer Production style of horror. In a way you could refer to it as a Hammer horror film with sex. There isn’t a lot of sex or nudity but there is some. To be fair just about any period style horror film using Frankenstein, Dracula or the Mummy is going to be compared to either Universal or Hammer.
The movie is a slightly different look at the Frankenstein story. There are still a lot of the standard tropes like the rampaging ugly monster, the laboratory with all its gizmos and the rioting villagers with pitchforks and torches. The main difference is that the monster is incidental to the film. The main focus is Lady Frankenstein’s relationship with her father, her relationship with Dr. Marshall, even her relationship with Thomas the handsome but brain damaged man. She is a woman who is single focused in her mission and will use whatever weapons are at her disposal, be it her brain or her body, to get what she wants.
The financers of the film chose Rosalba Neri as the lead role of Tania Frankenstein in the film. Tania is, in a few words, a nasty bitch. But her love for her father is all encompassing and she will do whatever it takes to restore his reputation. Unfortunately she does a lot of the wrong things. So blind is she in her devotion that she doesn’t see that a monster is still a monster and a monster maker is also a monster.