Even though I've seen his distinctive, panty-moistening, angular mug pop up in countless films over the years, I don't think I've ever seen him in a motion picture where his unique brand of European madness was the focal point from start to finish. In the wonderfully lurid Flesh for Frankenstein (a.k.a. Andy Warhol's Frankenstein), it's all Udo, all the time. I know, you're thinking to yourself, what's an Udo? Oh, you silly mongoose, he's not a what, he's a man, a flawless German man. And unlike a lot of folks out there, especially those you fidgeting in the dark, I never really bought into any of that depression era malarkey that stated that Germans were the so-called "master race." However, in the case of Udo Kier (Verführung: Die grausame Frau), I'm afraid to say it, but he is in fact better than everyone else. Well, at least when it comes to acting totally meshugana in a laboratory setting he is, as no-one comes close to touching the uncut crazy Udo puts out there in this Paul Morrissey-directed 3-D gore-fest (I'll take "Arterial Spray" for 2,000, Alex). Unflinching in his commitment to the deeply warped cause of his loopy character, Udo utters his deranged dialogue with an unwell grace. Sniveling, uncouth, and megalomaniacal, yet beautiful and alluring at the same time, Udo manages to make his mad scientist seem likable, even when he's penetrating the gallbladder of his girl zombie in full view of his bug-eyed lab assistant. What am I talking about? If anything, his unseemly encounter on the dissecting table with his "Serbian goddess" was probably one of the most romantic scenes I've ever seen. Of course, you should take everything I just said with a grain of salt; after all, I am on the cusp of being officially declared mentally ill in the province of Manitoba. Okay, maybe not "ill," but I'm definitely unstable.
The girl zombie (Dalila Di Lazzaro) with the perforated gallbladder languishing amongst the tubes and electrodes of the film's primary laboratory is a shining example of healthy womanhood. The boy zombie, however, is another story completely. Unsatisfied with the quality of the heads floating around in the towns and villages on the outskirts of his castle in Vojvodina, Baron Frankenstein (Udo Kier) and Otto (Arno Juerging), the Baron's sycophantic lab assistant, are determined to find a head worthy of their hunky torso. Hoping to complete his boy zombie so that it can mate with his already put together girl zombie, Frankenstein needs to find a head that boasts a Serbian nose ("the perfect nasum"), yet, at the same time, has the brain of a sex maniac (a head that contains the brain of a prudish blacksmith will not do).
Where will they find a head that is suitable for Baron's specific needs? How about a bordello? It just happens that the Baron knows the location of one. The Baron and his lab assistant stake out the entrance of a local bordello, and wait for a body sporting the right kind of head to walk out the door. Luckily for the Baron, Nicholas (Joe Dallesandro), a viral stableboy, and his friend Sacha (Srdjan Zelenovic), a wannabe monk who despises sexual intercourse, are getting their orgy needs fulfilled by a gaggle of affable prostitutes, well, Nicholas is anyway; Sacha is basically sulking in the corner, pressing his unlicked penis against the modestly hairy surface of his Serbian inner thighs.
Unfortunately, though, it's Sacha's head that catches the attention of the picky Baron (he was rather taken by his pronounced Serbian nose). Removing it with a pair of specially designed head clippers, the Baron and his lab assistant leave Nicholas unconscious on the side of the road next to Sacha's now headless body. Groggy and confused (he was out cold before his pal's head was chopped off), Nicholas wanders off to meet with Baroness Katrin Frankenstein, an eyebrowless vixen played by Monique van Vooren (Sugar Cookies). Yeah, that's right, he has an appointment to see the Baron's wife and sister (they have two kids together) at their castle. You see, before the head lopping incident, Nicholas and the Baroness were constantly running into one another. And since her brother won't impale her vaginal tract with his aristocratic penis anymore, she decides to hire the strapping stableboy as her new man servant/boy-toy.
The Baroness, eager to show off her latest slice of chiseled man candy, and the Baron, itching to unveil his girl zombie and boy zombie (who have been dressed in orthopedic corsets and puffy shirts), the Frankenstein's sit down for supper. Suffice it to say, the awkwardness that transpires over the course of the meal is off the charts in terms of off-kilter one-upmanship. Since no-one is gonna come right out ask me who I thought came away from the bizarre show and tell victorious, I'll just go ahead and state that I thought the Baron won the day when it came to outdoing his spouse/sibling. He did, after all, make two people from scratch. All the Baroness did was hire a man to have sex with her on a semi-regular basis. The look on Nicholas' face when he sees that his friend's severed head has been transplanted onto the body of one of the Baron's zombies is pretty consistent with the trauma that normally accompanies that painful moment when you discover that the head of someone close to you has been relocated to a completely different torso.
While Nicholas tries to figure away to rescue Sacha's head from a life of ghoulish servitude, the Baron and Otto are down in the lab trying get their walking corpses to mate with one another. Repeatedly instructing his female zombie to kiss his male zombie, the Baron grows increasingly frustrated by the male zombie's lack of arousal after each command to "kiss him" fails to bare any erectile fruit. Unaware that Sacha's brain is not wired for sex, the Baron starts to loose it. Blaming everything from the blood they used to outside agitators, the Baron is determined to get his zombies to procreate, as it's his dream to create a race of superior beings with Serbian noses.
The way the Baroness went to town on Nicholas' armpit–and when I say "went to town," I mean to imply that she was practically inhaling his axillary cavity with the whole of her mouth–was vulgar and unladylike. Not only was her questionable dining etiquette setting a bad example for her children, the excessive slurping sound she made as she mock devoured his sweaty cavity was wrong on almost every imaginable level. Watching her irregular approach to lasciviousness via a two-way mirror, the Frankenstein children, a creepy brother and sister duo whose genitals have yet to reach the operational phase of their existence, will probably hump erratically as adults thanks to their mother's untoward display.
The same goes for Otto, whose thrusting outlook has, no doubt, been somewhat sullied by the Baron's proclivity for poking pulsating wounds. Wounds, pulsating or otherwise, should not, I repeat, should not be penetrated by foreign objects, especially when they're in the process of healing. The human body has been outfitted with an abundance of pre-cut wounds to penetrate, ones that have been designed to absorb a wide-array of physical entities, so the need to create new wounds is completely unnecessary.
However, the mind of your average mad scientist works differently than most people. The desire to insert things into places that weren't meant to have things inserted into them seems to consume the entirety of their being. After dismounting his female zombie (he pleasured himself utilizing her abdominal wound as a makeshift vagina), Baron Frankenstein says to Otto, "to know death, you have to fuck life in the gallbladder." Briefly removing the modesty patch that covers her actual vagina, as if to say, I have no interest in this puckered mound of opulent flesh, Otto, imitating his master, begins caressing the stitches that snake seductively along the female zombie's succulent stomach with his tongue. Once his misguided attempt at foreplay is over, he's ready to pierce her wound. Of course, all doesn't go as planned (he's not as experienced as the Baron when it comes to performing gash-based cunnilingus), and the dumbfounded lab assistant has nothing but a floor covered with vital organs to show for his oral trouble.
With his slicked back hair (floppy bangs are for charlatans and child molesters), his eyes, which are constantly oozing a steely brand of Teutonic determination, don't merely look at you, they devour every inch of your pathetic aura, whether you're a hunky stableboy with an anachronistic accent or a jealous underling with low self-esteem, and his exquisite bone structure is as sharp as the barbs on Gitane Demone's gag-style harness (its knifelike precision ridicules your uncouth lumpiness with every sauve glance), Udo Kier is a revelation as Baron Frankenstein, the dreamiest sociopath to ever don a lab coat.
Now, I've seen a lot of cinematic kooks over the years announce that they plan on creating an entire race of zombies whose sole purpose is to carry out their brainsick bidding, and, in most cases, you laugh at them. But when someone of Udo's stature uses a word, like, say, "bidding," you take them seriously.
While there's plenty of camp to savour in Udo's portrayal of the world's most famous unlicensed surgeon, and I use the word "camp" affectionately, it's not all self-parody. The genuine sense of surprise he shows when his male zombie's primary sex organ fails to become engorged with blood after being kissed by his female zombie was rather touching, and the manner in which he pimped out his male zombie to his cock-starved sister allowed the doctor to display his rarely seen tender side.
The statuesque Dalila Di Lazzaro (Phenomena) may not utter a single word as the repeatedly poked and prodded female zombie in Flesh for Frankenstein, but the profound length of her legs, the unequaled symmetry of her refined Italian features, and her overall gorgeousness more than made up for her lack of verbalized dialogue. Besides, what kind of dialogue would she have uttered anyway? Other than: "My nipples are chilly, could someone get me a sweater?" or "I was wondering, yeah, is there anyway I could get my modesty patch upgraded? It's making my pussy itch like a motherfucker," I can't think of anything her character might want to express orally. No, I think stone-faced and well-proportioned was the way to go for Miss Di Lazzaro, as it gave her female zombie a real sense of muted disquietude.
Oh, and one more thing, Di Lazzaro's performance reminded me of my acting debut when I played a guard in a grade five production of... (holy crap, I can't remember the name of the play). Anyway, I recall being so excited over the fact that they were gonna let me make my own costume, that I totally forgot that I was going have to stand in front the entire school. Sure, all I had to do was stand there while holding a spear (an old ski pole spray painted silver). Plus, I was going to be wearing a mask for the duration of my scene (a cardboard box covered in tinfoil). But still, I was terrified. Now imagine having Udo Kier lying on top you, finger-banging the bejesus out of your gallbladder, while Paul Morrissey and a bunch of Italians (the film was shot just outside of Rome) stand off to side watching. It makes my guard duty sound like a walk through a butterfly-infested estuary.
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