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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER (1958) -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle


I remember reading one of those capsule-review books that deemed director Richard Cunha's 1958 monster thriller FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER so bad as to be "practically unwatchable." Well, there's no denying it's definitely bad in a variety of ways. But for those of us who happen to like that quality in certain films, "unwatchable" it certainly isn't.

Cunha's list of films also includes GIANT FROM THE UNKNOWN, MISSILE TO THE MOON, and the ever-popular SHE DEMONS, all of which share a similar appeal as low-budget fare with a certain something that just makes them fun to watch despite how lacking they may be in production values and polish.

For this effort, he continues the classic "Frankenstein" saga, this time in the form of the famous scientist's unhinged grandson, Oliver (Donald Murphy), who now goes under the name "Mr. Frank." 

Oliver works as an assistant to benevolent old research scientist Prof. Morton (Felix Locher, familiar to "Star Trek" fans from the 1967 episode "The Deadly Years") but is really just using the old man's home laboratory to create an artificial being out of dead body parts as his forefathers did before him.

Meanwhile, Prof. Morton's cute teenage niece Trudy (Sandra Knight) is an unknowing test subject for Oliver, who slips her a formula that turns her into a "Miss Hyde"-type monster who runs around the neighborhood in a nightgown or bathing suit, terrorizing old ladies and such.

Her boyfriend Johnny (the great John Ashley, HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER, BEACH PARTY, BRIDES OF BLOOD) scoffs at her hazy memories of being a stalking beast, as do their friends Don (Harold Lloyd, Jr., son of the famous silent film comedian) and Suzie (sexy blonde Sally Todd, a former Playboy Playmate of the Month). Suzie will eventually throw boyfriend Don over for the scheming Mr. Frank, who plans to kill her and use her head on his patchwork creature.

From this brief description alone, one gets an idea of what a crazy mixed-up story this is, made all the better by earnest performances, an often downbeat and even noirish atmosphere (some of the black and white photography is actually quite good), some wonderfully wild scenes of Trudy during her monster rampage, and one of the worst monsters of all time, big-lug actor Harry Wilson (who specialized in brawny thug types) as "Frankenstein's Daughter."

Once we're told that the late Suzie's head has been transplanted onto the body of Oliver's monster, Wilson assumes the role under a badly-applied heavy makeup complete with lipstick-smeared lips and what appears to be a nylon jumpsuit with black rubber gloves.

It's quite a sight, seeing him do a sort of robotic walk while advancing on his hapless victims who must all back away slowly enough for him to catch them.

More fun comes when Prof. Morton persuades Trudy to have a pool party to cheer her up. Here, Page Cavanaugh and His Trio perform "Daddy Bird" and "Special Date" with vocal help from Harold Lloyd Jr. while Johnny and Trudy cook hot dogs for a gang of "teens" made up of MILFs and guys who look like they have their own teenage kids.

As the police and a not-too-bright Johnny close in on Oliver's nefarious undertakings, Donald Murphy keeps things hopping with his deliciously dastardly performance. Likable Sandra Knight, who would later co-star with then-husband Jack Nicholson in THE TERROR, wanders through the film in a daze, while John Ashley is his usual awesomely faux-Elvis self.

Director Cunha, who could keep things hopping even on a rock-bottom budget, delivers a film that looks good (thanks in no small part to The Film Detective's terrific new restoration--bonus features listed below) and has enough nutty plot twists to keep us mildly agog for the full running time, especially when that wildly improbable "female" monster is stalking the screen.

Naturally, those who don't enjoy bad movies as much as us junk-film junkies may very well agree with that old assessment of FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER as "practially unwatchable." But if you do get a kick out of them, this one should be right up your dark alley.

Buy it at

Full Commentary track with Author/ Historian Tom Weaver
Full Color Booklet with original essay by Author/ Historian Tom Weaver
"RICHARD E. CUNHA: FILMMAKER OF THE UNKNOWN" - A new career retrospective from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures featuring an archival interview with director Richard E. Cunha
"JOHN ASHLEY: MAN FROM THE B'S" - A new career retrospective featuring film historian C. Courtney Joyner 

Frankenstein’s Daughter
The Film Detective

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Original Release: 1958 (BW)
Not Rated
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Language: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
SRP: $24.95 (Blu-ray) / $19.95 (DVD)
Discs: 1
UPC Code:  760137658283 (Blu-ray) / 760137658191 (DVD)
Catalog #:  FB1014 (Blu-ray) / FD1014 (DVD)


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