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Paul Morrissey (1938 - )

Related: Andy Warhol - American cinema - director - Chelsea Girls (1966) -

poster by Alan Aldridge for Chelsea Girls (1966)

Biography

Paul Morrissey (Born 1938 in New York City) is a film director. He became associated with Andy Warhol, who inspired Morrissey in new, more bold directions with his filmmaking.

Joe Dallesandro frequently stars in Morrissey's films. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Morrissey [Jul 2005]

Flesh for Frankenstein (1974) - Paul Morrissey, Antonio Margheriti

  • Flesh for Frankenstein (1974) - Paul Morrissey, Antonio Margheriti [Amazon.com]
    If you're in the properly receptive mindset to appreciate the artistry of director Paul Morrissey's Flesh for Frankenstein, you may experience an unexpectedly delightful shift in attitude while watching the film. At first it appears that Morrissey is indulging in an exercise of pure camp (and it's true, he is), but then it hits you: underneath all the wretchedly awful dialogue and seemingly deliberate bad acting, it's clear that Morrissey and his cast are up to something wonderful. Not only is this a seductively beautiful film to watch--even the abundant bloodshed and gory scenes of dismemberment are esthetically striking--but it's been conceived with astute intelligence and a wealth of refined humor, while maintaining connections to the resonant themes of the Frankenstein story. In this case, Baron Frankenstein (marvelously overplayed by Udo Kier) is a rather twisted fellow, married to his sister (Monique van Vooren) and determined to create the perfect man and woman from the assembled remains of selected corpses. He's created a sexy female, but his male specimen's got the brain of a young man who aspired to be a monk, making sexual arousal a bit of a challenge! The dead man's friend (Morrissey discovery Joe Dallesandro) intervenes to disrupt the Baron's mad experiment, and it all leads up to a climactic laboratory scene of gruesome and tragic death, all worthy of Morrissey's splendid operatic staging.

    Originally filmed in 3-D with outrageous scenes of in-your-face carnage, the film is enjoyable as camp horror, but it's equally entertaining as an exercise in pop-art symbolism and socio-political satire. This becomes even more evident from the wonderful audio commentary track featuring Morrissey, a very witty Udo Kier, and the stuffy but erudite critic Maurice Yacowar, whose insightful analyses make it clear that this is surely not a typical horror film. It's trashy but exquisite, and quite worthy of inclusion in the Criterion Collection. Once you've seen this, you simply must move on to its companion film, Blood for Dracula. --Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com

    see also: Antonio Margheriti

    More films

    1. Trash (1970) - Paul Morrissey [Amazon.com]
      "Why do you have to be unconscious?" asks Holly (played by Holly Woodlawn) while fingering the unresponsive crotch of her passed-out junkie boyfriend, Joe (Joe Dallesandro). Joe passes through a series of flaccid sexual encounters until, on account of his drug habit, he hits rock bottom as Holly is forced out of frustration to consummate with one of his discarded beer bottles. A radical and infinitely more compassionate departure from producer Andy Warhol's art-as-commodity (or commodification) discourse, director Paul Morrissey set out to make a reactionary antidrug film (originally titled Drug Trash), but the film instead turned into a sweaty, cinema-verit้ black comedy about the pitfalls of, to use a popular catch phrase of the time, "dropping out" of society and, inevitably, losing all hope of human intimacy. In this case, dropping out is not so much an escape as it is a further complicity: rather than an exercise in free will, one form of mindless consumer addiction has simply exchanged with another. As a time capsule, societal criticism, and cult oddity all in one, grab this from the trash heap of film history on your way out of a burning building. --Christopher Chase for amazon.com

    2. Blood for Dracula (1974) - Paul Morrissey, Antonio Margheriti [Amazon US]
      Filming on Blood for Dracula began on location in Italy on the same day that filming of Flesh for Frankenstein ended, and knowing this enhances one's appreciation of director Paul Morrissey's delightfully twisted--and defiantly artistic--approach to violent, campy horror. Originally titled Andy Warhol's Frankenstein and Andy Warhol's Dracula, both films are blessed by Morrissey's opulent visual style (he and his Italian cinematographer worked wonders with modest budgets), and both showcase Udo Kier and the languorous hunk Joe Dallesandro in opposing roles. Here we find Udo Kier as Count Dracula, looking even more ashen than usual and desperate for the blood of virgins to restore his waning health. He travels to Italy and stays at the fading estate of a once-wealthy family, and the presence of four lovely, sexually inexperienced daughters turns out to be a recipe for disaster. It so happens that only the youngest daughter is actually a virgin, and by process of elimination Dracula discovers that non-virgin blood makes him violently ill! Dallesandro plays the resident handyman--handy in more ways than one, as the daughters have learned--who dares to protect the remaining virgin from the Count's bloodsucking exploits, and as usual director Morrissey finds ample opportunity to combine sex and gore with outrageous sensibility and logic of plot. As in the case of Flesh for Frankenstein, this Criterion Collection DVD restores the film to its original director's cut, presented in its original aspect ratio with a supplemental commentary by Morrissey, Kier, and critic Maurice Yacowar. Kier is particularly delightful, observing during one gruesome scene that "vomiting looks great when you've got a tuxedo on." --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com

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