Tonight in rep screenings: Frankenstein double feature | Bleader

Tonight in rep screenings: Frankenstein double feature

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Frankensteins Daughter (1958)
  • Frankenstein's Daughter (1958)
Tonight marks the last program of Michael W. Phillips’s Shock Theater series, which has screened (from film!) a double feature of old-school horror every month since June. It’s an interesting project, taking movies long seen mainly in drive-ins or basements and reviving them in respectable, communal conditions. As seen from an archival print and on an old screen, the slapdash qualities of, say, Nightmare Castle or Beyond the Time Barrier, seem domestic or personable. In any context, these films are distinctly handmade where so much genre entertainment no longer is.

Screening tonight are the Italian-made Lady Frankenstein (1971) and the American-made Frankenstein’s Daughter (1958). The first depicts the unhealthy romance between Frankenstein’s daughter and servant—some might be curious to know that it features the great (well, probably not in this movie) Joseph Cotten as the elder Frankenstein. According to IMDB, the second isn’t actually about Frankenstein’s daughter, but rather his “insane grandson attempt[ing] to create horrible monsters in modern day L.A.” (IMDB also informs that “director Richard Cunha recently recalled that, upon seeing the makeup for the title creature just before filming, he was so disappointed he left the set and broke down in tears.”)

The premises of both films suggest weird and personal re-workings of a popular myth. Of course, this sort of thing goes on regularly—and hermetically—in the netherworld of fan fiction, but it seems almost agreeable within the safer confines of poverty row. These films were made with the goal of reaching a larger audience, and it’s always interesting to see no-rent filmmaker try to reconcile his vision with what he thinks a mainstream viewer wants to see.

The program begins tonight at 9:00 at the Wicker Park Arts Center. Admission for both films is $5. Phillips hopes to have another Shock Theater event some time in 2012.

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