Monday, March 2, 2009

Frankenstein, Monique Von Vooren and Mom

A couple of weeks ago I visited my family in San Antonio. One night my mother and I were surfing the pay channels and came upon "Flesh for Frankenstein" on Flix. It's one of my favorites, and the credits were still rolling, so we settled down to watch. I explained to Mom that it was originally released in "Spacevision" 3D, so there would be a lot of things being thrust toward the camera.

Mom got into the picture's mood immediately. The Play-Doh special effects, the deadly serious, heavily accented pronouncements of Udo Kier and Monique Von Vooren, contrasted with Joe Dallesandro's sullen Brooklyn-ese, all were amusing. Claudio Gizzi's lush, mournful score provides surprising gravitas to the campy goings-on. I was worried how she might react to the sex, but it too is so far over the top you can't help but laugh. Particularly amusing is Dallesandro's long monologue while Von Vooren is noisily sucking his armpit!

Here's Mom and me on my seventh birthday. We don't look like horror hounds, do we? But Dad traveled on business a lot, so Mom would take me and my sisters to the local drive-in theatre where we'd enjoy such epics as "The Fearless Vampire Killers," "The Green Slime," "Dracula Has Risen from the Grave" and the magnum opus, "Night of the Living Dead." Well, I don't know how much everyone else enjoyed them, but it started me on a lifelong devotion to the horror genre.

And of course there were the horror comics and magazines, board games like Green Ghost (which you played in the dark), and "Creature Features" on Saturday nights on WSJV-TV. It was a good time to be a horror kid. The release of Universal's classic films to television resulted in a horror renaissance, affecting every aspect of popular culture from music to television to breakfast cereal to greeting cards!

Mom's a big fan of the vampire genre (as am I) and we enjoy watching "True Blood" on HBO. We can't stand action vampire films, for the most part. The first "Blade" is okay, but vampires are meant to be sinister and seductive, not kickboxers. I'm crazy about the Hammer classics, especially "Vampire Circus," one of the lesser-known installments in the series. It's got great vampire action, incest, pedophilia, plague...and circus acts! Who could ask for more? See the Lynne Frederick post above for more.

But back to "Frankenstein." There's another family connection. My sister and her husband went to a campus screening of it at Purdue University...on their first date! When I moved to LA in 1980, it was still being screened at midnight at revival theaters in the 3D format, and I could kick myself for not having gone.

And what of Monique Von Vooren? She had a strange career, performing in lots of mainstream American television in the 1950s and 60s (game shows and variety shows!) before appearing in "Frankenstein," Pasolini's "Decameron" and Gershuny's "Sugar Cookies." Her last appearance to date was in "Wall Street" and she's still active in East Coast social circles.

We'll let Udo Kier have the last word: "Make him unconscious!"

1 comment:

seditious1 said...

Cool site, dude! Makes me wish there was still a drive-in for me to go to!


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