FILM REVIEWS

‘Frankenstein’s Daughter’ (1958)

 

Frankenstein’s Daughter (1958)

Frankenstein’s Daughter is one of those great, nonsensical science fiction movies from the late 50s where the science and motivation of the characters doesn’t make much sense. Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson (which I believe isn’t possible as the story takes place in 1958) wants to continue his family’s eccentric work. But this particular Dr. Frankenstein, hiding in America under the moniker Oliver Frank (Donald Murphy), isn’t as much an insane genius as he is just a jerk. He is taking advantage of poor Professor Carter Morton (Felix Locher) by using his lab, screwing up his research, and drugging his daughter. It sort of serves Morton right for not asking for references. Frank cannot even produce a fake I.D. that says who he is. For a Frankenstein, he is a pretty lackluster mastermind.

When Frank drugs Morton’s daughter Trudy (Sandra Knight), she becomes this sort of Frankenstein’s monster/werewolf hybrid. She runs around town in a bathing suit terrorizing people. This is endlessly amusing to the local police department. When Frank is not drugging Trudy, he is sexually harassing Trudy’s friend Sally (Suzie Lawler). Frank turns Sally into the permanent monster that is inherently promised by a Frankenstein narrative. The monster is a man in a very masculine looking mask. There is noting remotely feminine about the monster, which is not created from the only daughter in the story, which is not Frank’s daughter anyway. A better title would be: Frankenstein is Sexually Harassing Someone’s Daughter’s Friend, Eventually Turning Her Into a Man. I guess that doesn’t fit on the marquee. On the plus side, Frank’s monster is better behaved than his creator; it knocks on the front door of the house before revealing itself.

If this sounds at all complicated, it really isn’t. Because of the thin plot, Frankenstein’s Daughter contains one of my favorite elements to be occasionally inserted into movies from the 1950s: a performance by a rock band. The Page Cavanaugh Trio, a white bred-pseudo rock group, does a couple of numbers to fill out the run time. It’s a nice break in the action for both the actors and the audience. I felt refreshed after their songs, fully prepared to return to watching people run around in masks. Frankenstein’s Daughter is misguided, 50s-sci-fi fun. There isn’t much to it, but it manages to entertain on a lot of levels.

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