They should have never met.
When outlaw Jesse James (John Lupton) and his friend Hank Tracy (Cal Bolder) get ambushed during a robbery, they barely manage to escape. With the authorities on their trail and Hank severely wounded, they seek shelter at an old monastery which just happens to be inhabited by Mary Frankenstein (Narda Onyx), the granddaughter of the legendary European mad scientist.
With a title like ‘Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’, one might expect schlocky, trashy B-movie fun. But instead, we get a bunch of silly B-movie nonsense played with a very straight face. For a movie trying to bring a serious mixture – again, which such a title, can you actually believe this flick was meant to be taken seriously? – of western and horror, the wild west aspects are remarkably unadventurous and terror, or horror for that matter, isn’t anywhere to be spotted either. So what are we left with? Things to laugh with in a bad-movie-way? Forget it. ‘Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’ is a snooze-fest with a dull script and wooden performances that even fail to entertain.
The only thing of interest in this film, is a fairly enjoyable matte painting of the old monastery up on a hill. That’s about it for the special effects in this film. How about the set design of Mary’s laboratory? Well, resurrecting braindead people apparently needs the use of what looks like a WWI rasta-colored helmet of some sort. And of course, some inexplicable goofy-looking electronic devices. Exciting experiments they are not.
So, Mary Frankenstein and her brother/colleague-doctor Rudolph Frankenstein (Steven Geray) have fled their country. What else are misunderstood genius scientists to do? Now they are to be found somewhere in the good old wild west, conducting their experiments on superstitious villagers. Local beauty Juanita Lopez (Estelita Rodriguez) is on to them, so she tries to warn Jesse. To no avail, as Mary already has her mind set on turning the wounded Hank into Igor by means of a brain-swap in order to create ‘the perfect brute to do her bidding’, or something. Naturally, she succeeds in turning him into a moron.
The acting and filmmaking in general might be a bit better then what, let’s say, Herschell Gordon Lewis was pulling off at the time, but at least his films had gore and, well, plots bonkers enough to entertain. Director William Beaudine made over 350 movies in his filmmaking career. I wonder if any of them are any better than ‘Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’.
Trailer on YouTube.
Special Features: Cheezy Flicks Trailers / Intermission Time! (2 drive-in cartoons)