Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (DVD)

Starring Marilyn Hanold, James Karen, Lou Cutell, Nancy Marshall, Robert Reilly

Directed by Robert Gaffney

Distributed by Dark Sky Films

If any horror icon has had more incarnations than Frankenstein, I certainly can’t think of who it might be. And now, thanks to Dark Sky Films’ DVD release of Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster, we are treated to yet another version — one in which he’s not a monster put together by a mad doctor, but rather a hybrid man/robot created by Dr. Adam Steele, a scientist, to assist with NASA’s fledgling space program. Add in some Martians who have come to Earth looking for women to repopulate their planet following an atomic war, a slew of bikini-wearing beauties who fit their requirements perfectly, and some groovy Sixties pop tunes, and you’ve got a sure-fire cure for whatever ails you.

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster is pretty typical of the sci-fi/horror fare that was so popular in its day, which means that it’s totally laughable by current standards, but therein lies its charm. After all, we are talking about a movie filmed in 1965, long before special effects reached the quality we’ve come to expect today. In our story NASA has recently begun sending rockets up into space, and one of them is spotted by a group of Martians led by Princess Marcuzan and her right-hand man Doctor Nadir, who are circling Earth in preparation for their woman-snatching operation. Apparently the Princess is the only surviving Martian female. Thinking it’s a missile sent to destroy their spaceship, she orders her men to shoot down the rocket. NASA, in its infinite wisdom, believes it’s just some sort of malfunction and decides to immediately send up another rocket, only this one will be manned by “Frank,” our aforementioned android, whose mission is to explore Mars. Of course the Princess also orders Frank’s ship to be destroyed, but he manages to escape just in time and crash lands on Puerto Rico. Yes, Puerto Rico!

The Princess, realizing someone has survived the attack and fearing their ship has been spotted, has her men follow Frank to Puerto Rico. Now, I’ve seen a lot of cheesy spacesuits and weapons in movies, but those wielded by the Martians in Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster take the cake. Their “guns” are nothing more than silver painted fire hose nozzles with mirrors on the end. Priceless! But they do inflict a bit of damage on poor Frank, and he winds up with half a pizza-face and a short-circuited brain, causing him to go on a killing spree. Meanwhile, the Martians have begun rounding up all the voluptuous babes they can find. Interestingly enough, the Puerto Rico depicted in Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster doesn’t seem to have any actual Puerto Ricans living there, just a bunch of nice-looking American tourists who do nothing but party on the beach.

Once onboard the ship, the women willingly go along with the Princess’ plan, which seems to involve little more than them lying down and being covered with sheets as part of some sort of purification ritual. What’s not made clear is exactly with whom they will be mating. Is it the bald, pointy-eared Martians themselves or Mull, the “Space Monster” of the title, whose presence on the ship makes no sense whatsoever since he’s kept locked up and is barely seen during the course of the film until the anti-climactic climax when he meets up with Frank, who has in the meantime been re-programmed by Dr. Steele to be good again.

This was director Gaffney’s first and last feature film. None of the writers or producers did much afterwards either. Perhaps that’s because, truth be told, Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster is really only half a movie. Never in all my movie viewing have I seen a film with more stock footage in it. Literally 50% of the scenes are from other sources! But then again, considering the quality of the stuff that comprises the film itself, that’s probably a blessing. Nonetheless, it’s been ages since I had a better time watching a movie than I did with Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster.

I wish I could say the same of the extras, but as you might expect for a feature like this, there are none other than a few trailers and a still gallery.

So we’re left with the dilemma of how to rate a movie like this. Sure, the acting, makeup, sets, and effects are sub-par (while the visible seams on the “bald” Martians are probably the worst you’ll ever see, Mull doesn’t look too bad all in all). But the fun-o-meter is off the charts, and the snappy soundtrack earns it even more points. I guess it all boils down to personal preference. If, like me, you have an appreciation for movies that are so bad, they’re good, then Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster is one DVD that is definitely deserving of a spot in your collection. In fact, I’m going to go pop some popcorn right now for a second viewing — care to join me?

Special Features
Still gallery
Theatrical trailers

3 out of 5

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Debi Moore

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