Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie: One of the Worst of ’84

This post has been updated to correct glaring spelling and grammatical errors, and added a few pics and a video. I should never blog when I’m tired.

For my entry in Forgotten Filmz’s Films of ’84 blogathon, I’m covering this odd, and awful thing, Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie, which you can watch here (if you can stand it being a bit out of sync):

There’s not a great deal positive to say about this final product: it’s universally thought to be one of the worst offerings of ’84, a horror spoof about Transylvania town leaders trying to repossess the Frankenstein castle, just as the eponymous family happens to come back to reanimate the monster. Despite an impressive cast of formerly impressive talents such as Donald Pleasance, Yvonne Furneaux, Aldo Ray, and Zsa Zsa Gabor, the aging talents could not save this one. Zsa Zsa’s role was edited down to a few seconds of a flashback scene. For Furneaux, it had been a long time since her great performance in The Mummy (1959) and it shows.

Tillie was brought to you by: the producers of this nonsense.
Tillie was brought to you by: the producers of this nonsense.

Tillie was filmed in Mexico, at the same Mexico City studio as other, better, films of 1984 such as Dune and Conan the Destroyer. The production company was S. A. Filmier, a Mexican firm that specialized for its three-film run in the 1980s in getting American movies made in Mexico. They were responsible, in addition to Tillie for Quell and Co. (not to be confused with the trendy little company, whom I endorse, selling easy-on-the-eyes ways to keep your devices de-cluttered) in 1982, an underrated, but by that point anachronistic, Western, and Drug Runners in 1988, which seems to be to the Miami Vice-style narco-cop genre that is what Tillie is to, say, serious art films, which I simply must blog about soon:

June Wilkinson in her younger days
June Wilkinson in her younger days

Behind the camera there were some pretty interesting dramas going on, as June Wilkinson (playing “Randy”) remembers it: Pleasance didn’t like Gabor, though he was too polite to call her out on whatever was bothering him; and director Myron Gold had conflicts with Furneaux, who apparently was able able to manipulate the set so that the last scene was shot as she wanted, rather than what Gold envisioned. (The final scene was supposed to be done in the rain)  Also, Wilkinson remembers that Aldo Ray was in between some of his famous struggles with alcohol, and had been offered a role in one of 1984’s great films, Dune, but that he was dropped from Dune when he fell off the wagon.

All this to say that this is a pretty cheap comedy, which has little to recommend it, but completist fans and lovers of old, obscure films–and those of us trying to keep such films in circulation–might find some fun stuff to savor here.

3 thoughts on “Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie: One of the Worst of ’84

  1. I couldn’t believe Donald Pleasance was in this thing! Honestly, I had never heard of it until you asked about reviewing it. My morbid curiosity may just have to check it out.

    Thanks for being part of the blogathon!

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