Friday, January 20, 2012

Film #90: Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966)

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.
Practice makes perfect.
Don’t give up, cause you have friends.

The above are tried and true adages that typically serve to encourage the determined loser. They could also be the motto for the Frankenstein family, thought their pursuits are not nearly as noble as those who usually employ these supportive terms to try and cure cancer, learn a trade, or find solace.
The Frankensteins are as determined as they are crazed, and feature that common trait all serial losers share – an inability to learn from past mistakes.

In this week’s incarnation of the Frankenstein mythology, “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter,” we catch up with Baron Von Frankenstein’s granddaughter Maria Frankenstein. Of course she couldn’t become a nurse or homemaker or whore like any normal 19th century woman. 
Following in the family trade of corpse desecration and murder, Maria and her brother Rudolph are chased out of Olde Europe for resurrecting their forefather’s experiments.

Fleeing to America, the Frankenstein’s set up shop far from the long arm of the law in the wild southwest, converting a huge abandoned mission into their laboratory. 
But her luck is just as good as her ancestors… as in shitty. Many experiments, no successes. Try try again!

Meanwhile misunderstood outlaw legend Jesse James is roving the southwest with dim-witted but mighty friend Hank Tracy; following the legendary shoot out that supposedly killed him and his James Gang.
But he ain’t dead, he reckons, and jumps at the chance to team up with what’s left of another infamous old west gang, The Wild Bunch, for the stagecoach robbery of a lifetime.

Bunch member Butch sends for Jesse and when he arrives informs him there is up to $100,000 traveling through a narrow gulch, a robbery easier than taking candy from a quadriplegic.

But Butch’s brother Lonny won’t have any of it. Jesse James is dead like the papers say! This guy must be an imposter looking to take part of Lonny’s share of the robbery money.

After a brief fight that makes Jesse a hero and Lonny a fool, Lonny defects and double crosses the group by tipping off the local town sheriff of the robbery plans. Seems James has a bounty on his head of $10,000, which Lonny will solely collect if the sheriff catches James. (We know, but he isn’t supposed to believe Jesse is really Jesse… but that is too much plot thinking for this film. Be like Adam Sandler, and just go with it.)

During the heist, the sheriff and his men get the jump on Jesse James and shoot life-partner Hank in the process. Though injured, Hank and his master Jesse escape the sheriff’s trap into the dessert.
Hank needs a doctor, and a beautiful Spanish Rose they meet along the trail tells Jesse and Hank of two doctors who live in her former nearby village – Maria and Rudolph Frankenstein!

Meanwhile in Frankenstein land, Maria and Rudolph aren’t having much luck creating an indestructible man-made man. They’ve already plowed through several villagers, causing a mass exodus of its residents fearful they could be the next victim. It doesn’t help that Rudolph is sabotaging Maria’s experiments every chance he gets, seeing as he doesn’t approve of her black science.

Maria soon realizes the problem is she needs a subject with exceptional size and strength who can survive her physically demanding brain transplant and mind control experiments.
Wouldn’t you know it that just then Jesse James and Hank arrive at her door, a handsome outlaw for Maria, and a giant, strong, wounded idiot for her operating table. It’s like manna from heaven! A new super-strong “Igor” delivered to her doorstep.

Maria puts the moves on Jesse while plotting to turn Hank into our old neck-bolted pal Frank. Meanwhile the sheriff is hot on the tails of Jesse, hoping to arrest the outlaw before any more blood is spilled.

Will Jesse fall for the European charms of Maria Frankenstein?!
Can human life really be created by man?!
What can Brown do for you?
Find out, in the 1966 horror crap-terpiece, “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 1.9 (or 4.8 in schlock-rating)
Chris Dimick reckons:
“Part of me respects the Frankenstein family. But the other part loathes them.

You have to hand it to them, once they get stuck on an idea – in this case, creationism – they just don’t give up. 
The Frankenstein in the original 1931 film was the most honorable and even respectable of the bunch.

He was trying to create a new man from the pieces of dead criminals with the hope that such experiments could cure disease, heal injury, and maybe even scratch off the silver panel of the “why are we here” instant win game of Life. Yeah, he failed miserably when his “monster” creation ran amok through town high on the damaged brain of a criminal. But that wasn’t his fault! His dumb ass assistant got the wrong brain!
And so the obsession began.

Frankenstein was so close, right there fulfilling what he felt was his destiny and calling as a scientist and man. Naturally he had to try again in Bride of Frankenstein. But, ooops, failure again.

This obsession with perfecting the monster into the perfect specimen and proving to the world that not just man, but a Frankenstein, can create life drove a moral scientist to commit the immoral.

In later films, this obsession warrants the Frankensteins, first Henry Von Frankenstein, then son Wolf, and in this film Wolf’s children Maria and Rudolph, to commit despicable acts not to improve mankind, but to sooth their own egos. 

The Frankenstein movies offer some important life lessons:
-Sometimes you fail for a reason.
-Learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them.
-And most importantly, pride and obsession can bring down even the most noble of men.

Over the course of the RDHP, we have screened four Frankenstein films – “Bride of Frankenstein,” “Son of Frankenstein,” “Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed,” and today’s “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter.” 
In each film, Frankenstein has gotten more and more selfish and driven to succeed at any cost. 

In “Must Be Destroyed,” Victor Frankenstein is a raping, murdering monster that, well, must be destroyed. In “Frankenstein’s Daughter,” olde Maria is taking after her grandfather and using helpless, poor village children as live subjects of her experiments. At least the Victor Frankenstein of the original had the common courtesy to wait until people were dead to chop them up and sew them together!

Maria Frankenstein is the most diseased branch of her family tree. In this film she is completely self-absorbed (“How dare an outlaw like Jesse James refuse my sultry advances!”) entirely delusional (“We’ll create an indestructible man who only we can kill and who’ll do our bidding until we rule the world!”) and even barbaric (She heals dum-dum Hank’s gunshot just so she can live-cut open his head and replace his brain with another’s… seemingly just to prove that she could).

It is fitting that Maria is the most low-rent Frankenstein to appear in her family’s film series.
This film was below B-grade level, with a plot that didn’t make sense, horrible acting and subpar production values. In fact, the director of the film, William Beaudine, earned the nickname “One Shot” over the course of his career, since he said it only took one take to film a movie scene.
Well, it shows here.

That said, there is still something fun about JJ Meets FD. The merging of two genres, Western and Horror, is an interesting exercise that made sense in the case of the Frankenstein legacy.
First of all, it was the right time period for both storylines.

Also, the wide open west would have been a great place for Frankenstein’s descendents to set up shop and conduct their horrific experiments away from the prying eyes of East Coast or European civilized society.

Yes, I absolutely hate the fact that Jesse James is portrayed as a folk hero in this film (robbing from the rich to give to the poor; a gentleman with ladies, and a moral leader of men).

In real life Jesse James was a murderer, a thief, a no-good Southern Johnny Reb, and all around piece of shit. But still, the Western lover in me likes some good outlaw mythology.

As a crossover, “Jetsons Meets the Flintstones” type of movie, JJ Meets FD was a blast. As a serious film, sorry to say it takes after its ever descending namesake.
This movie is a failure. It is the work of a madman driven by the unrelenting desire to make a quick success off a classic name.
It’s a monster run amok so evil and unclean that only fire can rid the earth of it.

And yet upon reflection I can’t help but see the kernel of good in it… a kernel buried in all Frankenstein films and relatives… that sometimes the most ridiculous ideas can spawn the most entertaining creations.

N-Rating: 1.0
Nick Rich reckons:
“This movie be some jive turkey!

All you really need to know about this film can be said in the film poster just above my rating:

  • It has a picture of a cowboy that looks nothing like Jesse James in this film. 
  • It has an illustration of a green-faced Frankenstein's Monster, when there is nary a one to be found in this film. 
  • It has a black and white photograph of the 'Monster' attacking a cowboy, when clearly they had the ability to make it color (but to do that would contradict the aforementioned green-faced monster).
  • It has a vampire vixen lunging at a pile of blood. There were no freaking vampires in this film! Come to think of it, there was barely any blood!

Like I said:

Gobble, gobble y'all.

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter doesn't warrant a full Nick review - especially with a newborn in the house! And frankly, I don't really want to justify it with a review. Chris touched on most of its major detractors (i.e. pretty much everything) and even romanticized it a bit due to the coattails it was attached to (he's such a softy). It was a fun viewing due to our color commentary, but unless you're in the mood for an evening of dissing a flick with your friend I would trust this film about as much as this:

Don't believe the poster hype! Fight the power - HACK THE PLANET!!

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you're in the mood to feel like you've wasted an opportunity to use  your sweet movie setup (whether if be a projector and screen or a nice flat-screen and surround sound)... or if you ZZZZZzzzzzzzZZZZZzzzzzz....”

Things We Learned from Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter:
-Only one way to prove you are a James… gunplay!
-The only poison that can poison poison is super-poison.
-Native Spanish speakers talk in English when upset.
-Read Frankenstein the book. It’s different than you’d think.
-Revenge is stronger than a brother’s love.
-The brain beats like a heart.
-Heaven sends murder victims.
-Never visit a doctor who has a “laboratory” instead of an operating room.
-Chris thinks Forrest Gump is a chump.
-Iraq is the past tense of I Rock
-You can aim and shoot a gun with your eyes closed:


Quote of the Viewing:
[Maria just can’t stop lusting after the idea of creating her own private Igor to “do her bidding.” Near the end of the movie, Nick questions just why she needs such a monster.]

Chris: "Come on Nick, you mean you wouldn’t want a huge, hunky, shirtless, indestructible, undead monster that could do your bidding?"

Nick: "If she (Maria Frankenstein) wants a monster to do her bidding, she should just have a kid!"

RDHP Presents:
Famous Meet-ups!

RDHP Presents: 
Famous Meet-Ups!
Jesse James meeting Frankenstein is just one of many incredible “mash-ups” that have occurred in movieland. 
Seems it is not just college high-ons that sit around thinking of odd celebrity meet-up scenarios, and what would happen if. 
Below, the RDHP presents their favorite blank meets blank. Some are amazing pot-filled dreams come true, while others – we wish their creators would meet our fists.

Freddy Meets Jason
The cause of at least 1,000 exploded-heads among horror fans when it was announced in the 1990s.

Jetsons Meet the Flintstones
But ones from way BC and the other’s from way AD! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaa?! Double head explodes!

John Goodman Meets the Olde Country Buffet
So many discarded bones... and not just from animals! People need to keep their hands out of John's bite-zone.

Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman
Also the cause of at least 1,000 exploded-head accidents among horror fans when it was announced in the 1940s. This is a horror-nerd-gasm.

Charles Dickens Meets Edgar Allan Poe
This actually happened in March 1842 when Dickens traveled to Philadelphia to give a lecture.
Poe admired Dickens and wanted to meet him. Dickens accepted, and they met twice to discuss contemporary English and American writers.
We wonder if Poe influenced Dickens’ decision to make Great Expectation (written after their meeting) so dark. We hope so.

Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla
Unfortunately this is a real movie from 1952, by the same director of Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter! William “One Shot” Beaudine strikes again!

DVD Meets Laserdisc
Just when you thought you were cool Laserdisc, out comes your sexier kid sister. Kate Middleton feels your pain.

Alien Meets Predator
Sci-fi’s Freddy vs. Jason packs just as much action and absurdity.

Linda Hamilton Meets the PX90 Work Out
Her T2 physique confused many a horny teenage boy. “Is she hot, or am I just saying that because she could kick my ass?”

Alexander Hamilton Meets Aaron Burr
“I say dear sir you have disgraced my honor. Duel! Duel! I say I say I say, well well well I say!”

Jennifer Parker Meets Jennifer McFly
It could have lead to the complete collapse of the space-time continum and the destruction of the universe when Jennifer from 1985 meet herself in 2015. Good thing they both just passed out.

Ke$ha Meets Gonorrhea
A true match made in trash-chic heaven. Good luck getting all that glitter out of your sores, sweetie.


  1. This looks so awesomely bad. Hopefully Netflix has it.

  2. Netflix does indeed have this... as presented by Joe Bob Briggs! Not that Joe Bob does anything but put his face on the cover and collect the checks.