My quest to find my “so bad it’s good” movie has, at this point, turned into a saga. During my time participating in the So Bad It’s Good Blogathon from Taking Up Room, I have selected a film I thought would earn the coveted title, only to have that film fall short of my expectations. But I haven’t given up, as I still believe my “so bad it’s good” film is out there somewhere. When I reviewed Sea Change, I said the movie sounded so “bonkers”, I had to check it out for myself. I had a similar experience when I discovered the 1966 film, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter. Based on that title alone, the movie sounded “bonkers”, a well-known criminal from the “wild, wild west” crossing paths with someone from the story of Frankenstein. I hadn’t seen a film where the western and horror genres combined, so I curious to see how this story would turn out. I was also curious to see if Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter would finally be my “so bad it’s good” movie.
Things I liked about the film:
Maria’s house: Within this movie’s dialogue, Maria explains how her house formerly belonged to a missionary. Though the space is more reflective of Maria’s taste in design, I was impressed with the set! Despite only three rooms being shown on screen, my favorite room was the sitting room! The walls and massive fireplace were covered in a light-colored sandstone. A large medallion with carved images sits over the fireplace, boasting a darker metal hue. Red armchairs and curtains nicely complimented the sandstone. These details added elements of elegance and European flair to the desert!
The inclusion of science: In stories from the western genre, science isn’t often found in the script. In fact, the only times I’ve seen science included in western stories are during school lessons or whenever a medical situation takes place. Maria is a scientist from Austria, who just so happens to be related to the same Frankenstein from Mary Shelley’s novel. She is driven to make her experiment work, using an artificial brain that was passed down through her family. Despite the film’s science being poorly written, I appreciate this story adopting a more unique identity. I also appreciate the creativity this movie’s creative team attempted.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Poorly written science: As I previously stated in this review, the science in Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter is poorly written. It honestly made the characters sound like they didn’t know what they were talking about. While performing one of her experiments, Maria explains to her brother why they moved to the United States. She says there are more “electrical storms” in the United States than there are in Austria. What Maria failed to remember is how thunderstorms can take place anywhere, as clouds can congregate to create the effects of a typical storm, such as lightening. This made Maria’s trip seem kind of pointless.
A misleading title: I mentioned in this review’s introduction how the title of Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter sparked my curiosity, as it made the movie sound “bonkers”. Personally, I thought the film would feature Jesse James in his younger years interacting with the daughter of Frankenstein’s monster. However, the title turned out to be a lie. Maria is Victor Frankenstein’s granddaughter. When Jesse meets Maria, forty minutes into the movie, nothing happens after their initial meeting. They don’t fall in love or form some sort of alliance. If given an honest title, this film would be called “Jesse James Meets Juanita”.
Delayed reactions: Though not a common flaw, there were a few times where actors presented delayed reactions. When Juanita’s family first meets Jesse and his friend, Hank, both men are running from the law. Hank has a very noticeable injury, which is getting worse by the minute. But it takes Juanita about five to ten seconds to acknowledge Hank’s injury. I’m not faulting the actors, as they tried their best with the material given. I will fault the screenwriting, as there could have been a stronger sense of urgency written into the script.
Lack of horror: In this review’s introduction, I said I was curious to see a movie combine the western and horror genres. But when I watched the film, the western genre was emphasized. To me, it felt like the movie’s creative team wanted to take their western story seriously, instead of finding a balance between the horror and western genres. When the horror elements were utilized, it seemed like they were used to tell a rehashed version of Mary Shelley’s story. Even though I appreciate the creativity attempted, I wish the delivery was stronger.
My overall impression:
For five years, I have been searching for my “so bad it’s good” movie. Throughout this search, I have found films that were either ok or disappointing. With Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, there were a few times I found myself giggling. But I wouldn’t say this movie is “so bad it’s good”. To be honest, this film was built on a gimmick. Though that could work with the right creative talent, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter didn’t have a strong delivery. It felt like the movie’s creative team wanted to take their project seriously. This made the film feel more like a generic western. The inclusion of the horror genre added some creativity to the movie. Unfortunately, the horror elements were not utilized well. With this review for the So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, it feels like I took a step in the right direction! Hopefully, those steps will lead me to my “so bad it’s good” movie!
Overall score: 4.9-5 out of 10
Have you seen or heard of Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter? Would you like to see more westerns combine other genres? Please let me know in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!