Although I had been reading monster magazines (well, looking at the pictures mostly) since the "teen" years of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, it wasn't until the late twenties and early thirties numbers that I was actually allowed by my parents to have one of the "awful things" in the house. My Dad was the first to realize that my zeal for monster 'zines would not likely subside any time soon, so he finally acquiesced to me buying my first issue of FM -- but that is a story for another time.
FAMOUS MONSTERS #28 (May 1964) was a memorable issue for many reasons (and that's another part of the story for another time), but one article in it not only filled me with the usual wonderment like many of them did -- but it actually, for some unknown and fear-buried reason . . . disturbed me.
Now, I was used to seeing all sorts of critters and creatures in previous issues of FM, including those in other monster mags like Charlton's HORROR MONSTERS and MAD MONSTERS and Blaisdell and Burns' FANTASTIC MONSTERS OF THE FILMS. I was used to melting faces, contorted limbs and burned bodies, all that could just as easily come from the local morgue as from a monster movie magazine. But is was a 6-page article on, of all things, a Frankenstein movie, that really creeped me out.
It retrospect, it was probably the pure incongruity that threw me off in the feature entitled, The Most Horrible Frankenstein. Here was an article and pictures from a film, a French film at that, showing yet another version of the Frankenstein story, and depicting a monster that was both goofy looking and a little terrifying. Maybe something got lost in the proverbial translation?
Shot in black and white in Bretagne, France, TORTICOLA CONTRE FRANKENSBERG (Torticola vs Frankensberg was the international title) is a short film (35 min.) directed by Paul Paviot and released in 1952 by Le Films Marceau/Pavox films. It was actually intended as a parody of the Frankenstein films, possibly inspired or influenced by the ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN horror comedy released a few years earlier (1948) in the states. Torticola is translated as "Twisted Neck" and probably refers to the hanging victim that was used to put the creature together on the operating table.
The square-domed creature's head, complete with hair that could have come out of of Barbara Steele's dressing room was the creation of one, Hagop Arakelian, who went uncredited in the film. The makeup was completed with a pair of driving gloves and a burlap sack.
At the time I didn't even have the slightest thought that I would ever see this film. But, almost 50 years later, there I was, watching it on my computer screen after stumbling across someone's video upload at an archive site.
Here is the article from FM #28:
And here is the video of Torticola contre Frankensberg: