aka Return from Death: Frankenstein 2000
(Frankenstein 2000 – Ritorno Dalla Morte)
Director – David Hills [Joe d’Amato], Screenplay – Joan Russel [Joe d’Amato], Photography – Frederico Slonisko [Joe d’Amato], Music – Piero Montanari, Special Effects – Paul Goodman & Larry Rapetti. Production Company – Filmirage.
Donald O’Brien (Ric), Cinzia Monreale (Georgia Danson), Richard Harsh (Dr Thomas Martin), Dan Dustman (Hans Lecter), Mark Frank (Kurt Hoffner), Mark Quail (Erik), Maurice Poli (Fritz Hoffner), Joe Pittsbergh (Albert Malder), Max Tazusky (Paul Zimmer), Walter Travor (Judge Strolls), Robin Tazusky (Stephen Danson), Robert Milton (Dr Peter Mayer), John Wood (Professor Grover), Susan Baker (Mirna)
In a small Austrian town, the large, hulking and slow-witted Ric works for Georgia Danson, a newcomer to town who manages a videostore. She is menaced by three motorcycle-riding toughs who force their way into the store but Ric saves her. They later return and break into her home where they take turns raping her. With Georgia left in a coma, Ric is found unconscious at the scene and blamed for the assault. The involvement of the others is covered up by corrupt security officers because one of the attackers is the son of the town’s benefactor Hoffner. Ric is brought in to see Georgia by doctors as part of an experimental treatment in the hope this might wake her out of her coma. Afterwards, the two security officers break in and fake Ric’s suicide by hanging in his cell. However, Georgia is able to bring Ric back from the morgue table with her psychic powers. He then stumbles through the town, killing her assailants and those who have covered up the crime.
Frankenstein 2000 was one of the films from Italian director Joe d’Amato. Throughout his three decade career, d’Amato hid behind over a dozen pseudonyms (here, for instance directing as David Hills, while writing the script and working as cinematographer under two other different names). He worked in many genres – from giallo thrillers to cheap sword and sorcery films (the Ator series), zombie films and mid-80s post-holocaust action films. It is however for his extensive output of erotic/pornographic films that d’Amato is most well known (although Frankenstein 2000 is not one of these). D’Amato is regarded as the most prolific Italian film director of all time, having directed nearly 200 films between the 1970s and his death in 1999. (See below for Joe d’Amato’s other genre films).
The impression the title Frankenstein 2000 gives you is of an updated Frankenstein film. The science that drives the Frankenstein story is firmly rooted in the 19th Century and appropriately this is where most of the film versions have been kept. There have been a number that have tackled the idea of updating the story including Dr Franken (tv movie, 1981), Frankenstein’s Baby (tv movie, 1990), Mr. Stitch (1995), the Dean Koontz Frankenstein (tv movie, 2004), Frankenstein Reborn (2005), Frankenstein’s Bloody Nightmare (2006), Frankenstein (tv mini-series, 2007), The Frankenstein Syndrome/The Prometheus Project (2010), Closer to God (2014) and Frankenstein (2015). That said, the 2000 after the title here seems of no particular significance – there is nothing to indicate the film is set in the future from when it was made, for instance – and mostly seems thrown in to capitalise on what would have been the nearing date of the millennium back when the film was made.
However, the Frankenstein aspect of the title is confusing – for one, this is a Frankenstein film without any Dr Frankenstein. Instead, we get what appears for most of the running time as a mundane story about a gang of petty motorcycle hoods who harass and rape a woman (Cinzia Monreale). If you are wondering what part of the Frankenstein story this relates to, then so am I. After 45 minutes of the film, the crooked security guards break into the prison where the innocent simple-minded handyman (Donald O’Brien) is being held – for some reason the town’s jail also happens to be located in the hospital – and conspire to hang him in his cell. The raped woman is lying in a coma a few floors above – Donald O’Brien was brought in to see her by doctors in the belief that this would somehow cause her to awaken (the thought apparently never occurred to them that confronting her accused attacker might cause trauma). She also has psychic powers and uses these to resurrect O’Brien from the morgue table and send him out to kill those who raped her and the others who covered up their crimes.
D’Amato delivers a capably shot and edited film – for some reason, it all takes place in an Austrian village. However, the film suffers from indifferent writing – there is Mark Frank’s rather laughable cry of “shit, I lost my contact lens” as his two friends are busy raping Cinzia Monreale, which kind of detracts from what should be a disturbing scene. There are bad performances, most notably from the thickly accented Maurice Poli. Worse though are the makeup effects, which cause Monreale’s visions of her daughter’s head being severed to lapse into absurdity every time we see them, something that would not appear to be the effect the filmmakers were aiming for.
The film was directed by Joe D’Amato (1936-99), a prolific director in the Italian exploitation industry whose career was predominantly in pornographic films (including a number of the other Black Emanuelle films and several other films starring Laura Gemser). He made over 200 films and is known under a variety of different pseudonyms. His other genre films include:- the giallo Death Smiles on a Murderer (1973), the erotic/cannibal films Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977) and Papaya, Love Goddess of the Cannibals (1978), Blue Omega/Beyond the Darkness (1979), Anthropophagus/The Grim Reaper (1980), the erotic/zombie film Erotic Night of the Living Dead (1980), the erotic/voodoo/cannibal film Sex and Black Magic (1980), Absurd (1981), the erotic/zombie film Porno Holocaust (1981), the sword and sorcery film Ator the Invincible (1982), the post-holocaust film Endgame (1983), Ator the Blade Master (1984), the post-holocaust film 2020: Texas Gladiators (1984), the Ator film Quest for the Mighty Sword (1989), Contamination .7/Creepers/Troll 3 (1993), the pornographic reincarnation film Chinese Kamasutra (1993), the pornographic Ghosts in the Castle (1994), the pornographic Marquis de Sade (1994), the pornographic Tarzan X (1994) and its sequel Tarzhard: The Return (1998), the pornographic ghost film Erotic Bluff (1995), the pornographic caveman film Homo Erectus (1996), the pornographic psycho-thriller Primal Instinct (1996), Hell’s Angels/Demons of Lust (1997), Hell’s Angels 2/The Seven Sexy Sins (1997) and Hell’s Angels 3/The Devil’s Lair (1998), a series of pornographic vignettes set in Hell, the pornographic Greek myth films Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (1997), Hercules: A Sex Adventure (1997), Olympus, Refuge of Gods (1997), Samson in Amazon’s Land (1997), The Sexual Adventures of Ulysses (1998) and Love and Psyche (2000), Kamasutra (1997), a pornographic film with fantasy elements, the pornographic Queen of Elephants (1997) about a female Tarzan, a pornographic version of the story of the Phantom of the Opera with Phantom (1998), Elixir (1998), a pornographic film involving a youth serum, Eternal Desire (1996), a pornographic version of Highlander (1986), and Experiences (1999) and Experiences 2 (1999) about a woman sucked through her computer to participate in a series of erotic interludes across time.