The Merits of Sin: The Rites of Frankenstein aka The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (1973) (Spain/France)

Insane offering from Jess Franco runs a tad too long but should still be considered a triumph amongst trash film lovers.

Bingo

Just as Doctor Frankenstein and his assistant successfully zap life into his silver skinned formerly dead creation, Cagliostro’s goons break in to the cheap looking laboratory and attack. The attack leaves the doctor’s assistant Morpho (Jess Franco himself) deceased and the good doctor fatally wounded. The goons, a brutish and silent lug and … I shit you not… a blind flesh-eating and squawking bird-woman with a streak of feathers on her naked and caped body and taloned green feathered hands, escape with the beefy monster.

I love your brain, Uncle Jess

The two arrive at the castle fortress of their master and are greeted by Cagliostro (a ridiculously bearded Howard fucking Vernon). The master proceeds to put the monster under his spell through mesmerism and psychic magnetic waves (at least I think that’s what they were rambling about) and commands the creature to head out to the nearby village with his goons and snatch up various beautiful women. He needs these lovely ladies so he can assemble the perfect mate for the monster and their spawn shall be a master race subservient to the evil Cagliostro.

What’s with goofy facial hair and master races

There are a couple roadblocks for the bearded nutjob on his path to world domination. First, Dr. Frankenstein managed to make it into the care of his professional rival Dr. Seward and right before he passed away, he told Seward of his successful experiment and how he must save the creation for SCIENCE! Now Seward may not have any idea what the dying man is jabbering about but it does peak his interest and gets him looking a little deeper (along with his friend Inspector Tanner) into what brought about Frankenstein’s demise. Secondly, Frankenstein’s daughter Vera has come to the village for her father’s funeral and plans on sticking around. That very night she steals her dad’s corpse from the mausoleum and manages to temporarily bring him back to life. She learns of her father’s success and who took his life from the talkative corpse. Vera promises vengeance and to continue on with his work. Vera also catches the eye of Seward, so he’ll definitely be noticing when she vanishes from her home.

For the birds

Knowing where to look, Vera stalks the bird lady and the monster as they sneak about town. The monster snatches up a woman and Vera steps in, commanding him to take her instead (she is blood of his creator and no amount of mesmerizing will let him forget his father), Vera manages to get into Cagliostro’s castle. She’s identified almost immediately and is brain-slaved by the creep soon after. As all this is happening Cagliostro has called his army of evil to him. It’s basically a bunch of white robbed zombies (some skeletons too) and haphazardly dressed up weirdos who don’t do much but wander around the woods and watch as Cagliostro gets up to no good. But they are there and I felt they needed to be mentioned.

I got ya, Bros

Seward and Tanner look into the missing Vera and find her daddy’s body in his old lab. They manage to resurrect him briefly as well and learn just what the hell is going on. They then decapitate the already dead (in fairness he does attack Seward) Frankenstein and head out to Cagliostro’s castle for a final confrontation. On another side note there is inserted footage of a gypsy woman named Esmeralda laying around the woods, trying her best to avoid the psychic call of Cagliostro. It’s completely useless and was only added in well after the film’s completion to get Lina Romay in the film. But I will never complain about anything that puts more Lina Romay in my line of vision.

Subplot sexy

Blurred images and unnecessary zooms pop up from time to time but if you love some Franco in your life, you’ll be more than pleased to see them. Vernon delivers a fantastic wide eyed performance, relishing his role and overacting in the best way possible. The bird lady Melisa will never leave your mind once her greatness is witnessed. The silver painted monster (with some spots obviously passed over) makes some hilarious faces and the women are all easy on the eyes. The film is all over the place but maintains a manic zeal for most of the runtime. There’s a bit of rambling but, again, it’s Franco and we accept him for who he is. 8/10


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