Why yes, I do have a Mill Creek 50 pack, why do you ask?
I was expecting Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter to be a lot worse than it actually turned out to be. It’s not sexy like Lady Frankenstein, but if anything, it’s closer to being a feminist Frankenstein because the fact that Maria Frankenstein (Narda Onyx) has two X chromosomes is nearly a non-issue. Maria and her much older brother, Rudolph (Steven Geray), on the run from Europe, have moved their dastardly operation to the American Southwest. Maria has the old Frankenstein case of hubris we see in all Frankenstein films, but Rudolph doesn’t agree with her experiments. Why he’s with her at all, why, that’s just good writing.
One of the locals, Juanita (Estelita Rodriguez, in her final film before her mysterious death), has lost a brother to the Frankenstein la-BOR-atory. Although all her fellow villagers have left town in fear, she waits around hoping she will see the Frankensteins get what is coming to them.
She may get her chance when she meets the outlaw Jesse James (John Lupton), who didn’t die when he was supposed to in real life, but survived and continues on the run with his dimwit buddy Hank (Cal Bolder). Hank gets shot during an attempted stagecoach robbery while working in conjunction with what is left of The Wild Bunch, then Hank and Jesse run into Juanita, who falls in love with Jesse and takes them to Maria. See, Juanita thinks Maria is a doctor in addition to being an evil scientist. Maria also falls for Jesse, who really is a pretty gentlemanly outlaw, although I don’t see the physical attraction because the actor looks like my ex-husband.
Anyway, Jesse wants Juanita, but so does Hank. Unfortunately, Hank gets turned into a monster and is forced to do Maria’s bidding. Will Juanita get her revenge? What about the sheriff (Jim Davis) and that dude Lonny (Rayford Barnes; forgot to mention him) who are after Jesse? How did Jesse James stay on the run this long when he keeps telling everyone who he is? Doesn’t anyone notice that the Frankenstein mansion is a big ol’ matte painting?
Nothing really stands out as audacious here, unless you count the multi-colored army helmets Maria and her victims wear during the operations, complete with neon lights hanging off the sides. This is just a big neon sign to tell us we aren’t meant to take this movie seriously. It’s good solid B-movie entertainment. Sure, the acting gives it the feel of a high school play, but it’s a thoroughly watchable high school play. And even though it is a Frankenstein movie, it’s more of a western, complete with lots of horses, old west town scenes, gunplay, and desert scenery. The only thing missing is a cathouse with fancy ladies!
I actually quite like the idea that Jesse James survived the assassination attempt by Robert Ford and went on to have more adventures. The director (William “One Take” Beaudine) made a companion piece, Billy the Kid Meets Dracula, but if you ask me, they could have made a whole series of weird west Jesse James pictures. Jesse James meets the Aztec Mummy. Or El Chupacabra. Or El Mascadaro. Jesse James in the Whaley House. Jesse James and the Secret of the Alamo Basement. Jesse James Versus the Sunnyvale Toys R’ Us Phantom. You get the idea. Hollywood, are you listening? I want points.