Friday, January 6, 2012

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter

I know what you're thinking: With a title like that, how can it miss? Well, it can. It can miss like the proverbial country mile. It can miss like John Starks in Game 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals. There's good crap and there's bad crap. We are mostly devoted to the good crap but, every now and then, I come not to praise but to warn. So let it be with Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter.

So, we're somewhere in the southwest, where Frankenstein's Daughter has set up in some castle because apparently the lightning is better there. And, as so often happens when the Frankensteins move into the neighborhood, people start disappearing -- or so we are told by "Juanita," a fair young maiden who lives in a pequeno pueblo, or so they tell us, since she seems to be in her late thirties and from somewhere in the Valley.

Cut to a big lunkhead bare-knuckle boxing. He's not Billy the Kid -- the guy in the mustache is Billy the Kid. Hank is the name of his muscular and frequently shirtless companion. Hank boxes, Billy shoots someone. The two somehow wind up enmeshed in a bank robbery but then not in a bank robbery and now some guy wants to turn them in for reward money. The villagers near the castle in Alburquerque or wherever bitch more about lost relatives. Frankenstein's Daughter rants about her grandfather's creation. Yak yak yak yak. Yup, cheesy exploitation movie that suddenly bogs down into a dull talkathon. It's like the Tarantino part of Grindhouse, but worse.

Somehow Lunkhead gets shot and so Jesse James comes to town. Somehow Lunkhead goes to Miss Frankenstein for medical treatment. Both Frankenstein's Daughter and the Hollywood Carhop Senorita are deeply enamored of Jesse James. Usually, when a lady meets a man with a large mustache who always wears a suit and is devoted to his muscular and frequently shirtless companion -- especially when said companion is significantly younger and quite stupid-- she knows better than to be come enamored but, hey, hope springs eternal. And Frankenstein's Daughter does have a classic, Frankensteinian use for a giant, musclebround, brainless guy. She even changes his name from Hank to Igor. In fact, that kind of seems the part of creating a monster she's most adamant about: The name. Well, and the killing. I suppose it's a good thing all the old Frankenstein movies were in black and white -- it spared us knowing that rainbow-striped plastic helmets of the type worn by a metally deficent pre-teen on his birthday we crucial to the "creating new life" process.

Listen, I know it sounds appetizing. But, trust me, it's not. It is a very, very bad film. And not in the Run D.M.C. sense of "bad meaning good," but in the sense of bad meaning just plain shitty. Not even a case of Spanish absinthe and a brick of sour diesel chronic could make Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter bearable. And that's saying a hell of a lot.

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