|The "Frankenstein Island" wrap party didn't go as planned.|
It's surprising that a movie set on a scenic island populated almost entirely by attractive young women wearing only leopard-print bikinis could be this bad. It has so much going for it.
But in this case, the movie is "Frankenstein Island," which while made in 1981, would have seemed cheap, tacky and hopelessly outdated in 1951.
Just imagine how it seems 30 years later.
Actually, you don't have to imagine. "Frankenstein Island" is back, this time as the latest video-on-demand offering from Rifftrax, the post-"Mystery Science Theater 3000" movie-riffing project of MST3K alums Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, who were the show's movie-mocking leads during its Sci-Fi Channel years.
Originally conceived to riff on recent Hollywood films, Rifftrax has devoted a bit more attention in the past year to vintage B-movies that would have been perfect targets for MST3K. Recent Rifftrax titles include 1978's "Buffalo Rider" (think "Grizzly Adams" without a plot) and "Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe" (1990), starring former pro wrestler and future conspiracy theorist Jesse "The Body" Ventura as a bounty hunter from outer space.
The most unintentionally hilarious of the bunch is "Frankenstein Island," but that just means Mike, Kevin and Bill have even more material to work with.
The writer/director responsible for "Frankenstein Island" is Jerry Warren, whose 1966 movie "The Wild World of Batwoman" is one of the strangest films ever to get the MST3K treatment. In fact, "Frankenstein Island" is full of past MST3K offenders.
Katherine Victor ("The Wild World of Batwoman") plays Sheila Frankenstein, who is carrying on her grandfather's work, whatever that was, because in this movie it's something way less straightforward than reanimating corpses. She's joined by veteran character actor Cameron Mitchell ("Space Mutiny"), who seems to have been paid for one day of work and spent all of it in a cage.
Also on hand is Steve Brodie, who appeared in "The Wild World of Batwoman" and "The Giant Spider Invasion."
Tain Bodkin, who had a small part as an apocalyptic preacher in "The Giant Spider Invasion," shows up, too. In his first scene, he does an impression of a fire-and-brimstone preacher for no apparent reason other than to remind us of his earlier role.
What viewers in 1981 made of that is a mystery.
Finally there's horror icon John Carradine, who at this point in his career was crippled with arthritis and taking small roles in terrible movies. He portrays the disembodied spirit of Dr. Frankenstein, a part that probably took half a day to shoot and didn't require him to be on set with the other actors.
The plot goes something like this.
A hot-air balloon crashes on a remote island, stranding four men and their dog. But they're not alone. There's a tribe of women in leopard-print bikinis who spend all of their free time dancing and carrying logs. The rest of their time they spend trying to avoid capture by a few slovenly thugs who kidnap them for Sheila Frankenstein's experiments, which have something to do with reviving her 200-year-old husband Dr. Van Helsing. (Try not to think about that.)
Or maybe Sheila is trying to turn people into werewolves. I'm really not sure.
Anyway, the props literally look like dollar-store Halloween accessories, which they literally are, and Carradine seems confused whenever he appears, which is exactly how this movie left me.
It's a deliriously bad film, and Mike and the guys are in top form making fun of it.
You can download "Frankenstein Island" for $9.99 at Rifftrax.com.