Cal Bolder, John Lupton, and Narda Onyx in Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966)


(director: William Beaudine; screenwriter: Carl K. Hittleman; cinematographer: Lothrop Worth; editor: Roy Livingston; music: Raoul Kraushaar; cast: John Lupton (Jesse James), Narda Onyx (Maria Frankenstein), Cal Bolder (Hank Tracy/Igor), Estrelita (Juanita Lopez), Jim Davis (Sheriff McPhee), Rayford Barnes (Lonny Curry), Steven Geray (Rudolph Frankenstein), Roger Creed (Butch Curry), William Fawcett (Jensen), Felipe Turich (Manuel Lopez), Rosa Turich (Nina Lopez); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Carroll Case; Embassy Home Entertainment; 1966)

“For those who pine for bad illogical camp films, this one is more than inviting.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

William “One-Shot” Beaudine’s (“Voodoo Man”/”Spook Busters”/”The Face of Marble”) companion piece of schlock to his “Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula,” is just as big an incoherent mess. Carl K. Hittleman once again turns in a lame script. It’s a futile camp exercise that blends together into one movie a legendary horror classic with a legendary Western classic outlaw tale. The brain-dead concept has Jesse James (John Lupton) turning up at the American southwest lab of Maria Frankenstein (Narda Onyx), who is the granddaughter of the monster-making Baron and not the daughter as the title mistakenly indicates.

As the silly tale goes the emboldened Dr Maria Frankenstein and her nervous brother, Rudolph (Steven Geray), are two research scientists who had to flee their native Vienna when wanted by the authorities for their illegal experiments and show up at an old abandoned mission in the southwest because it’s isolated and there are plenty of electrical storms. All the Mexican peasants flee the area after three of the young boys of the village have mysteriously “sickened” and died after going to work for the Frankensteins. The Lopez family only hangs around long enough so that the feisty Juanita (Estrelita) could see her deceased brother’s body. But the Frankensteins wouldn’t let her see the body because they claim his “sickness” contaminated it. The Lopez family patriarch forces them to leave the area. While fleeing in the woods they meet outlaw Jesse James and his wounded strongman best friend Hank Tracy (Cal Bolder). They just escaped a trap set by Sheriff McPhee’s (Jim Davis) in a stagecoach stickup they partnered with the three members of the Wild Bunch, as a disgruntled member of the Wild Bunch named Lonny Curry (Rayford Barnes) ratted the robbery out to the sheriff to collect the $10,000 reward for Jesse and to reform. Juanita observes that Hank will die unless treated by a real doctor and since the wanted outlaws can’t go into town, she disobeys her father’s orders and takes them to the mission doctors. Maria welcomes them, even when she learns they are famous outlaws, and believes someone strong like Hank will be perfect for her monster-making experiment to transplant an artificial brain of the original monster creation by the Baron. The shrill Maria goes about turning Hank into her zombie slave Igor, who will obey all her commands including killing anyone she asks him to. Even though Hank is now Igor, Jesse remains at the mission to try and rescue his friend. Juanita has fallen head over heels for Jesse, despite Hank also having a crush on her, and decides to get Sheriff McPhee to go out to the mission and rescue Jesse when she feels he can’t handle the evil Frankensteins by his lonesome. Juanita knows full well that even if the sheriff rescues Jesse, he’ll still arrest him and since he’s wanted for murder a rope awaits him. That just shows you what kind of confused gal this Juanita is, who promises to wait forever for her man–which certainly seems the case. And, I might add all this fervor is only after one or two kisses. I can only imagine what she would promise if the lovers had a chance to hit the sack.

The B-film low-budget trashy venture is slightly better than its companion piece because all the thesps are equally awful and it gives the film a more even-handed look at being idiotic than having a John Carradine around to be so flamboyant and calling unnecessary attention to how inept is the film. For those who pine for bad illogical camp films, this one is more than inviting.