An international smorgasbord, adapted from a Swedish children’s novel by Allan Rune Petersson. A West German-Czech co-production with a multinational cast, it was made as a TV serial then edited into a hard-to-follow feature. A feelgood fable, it nevertheless has a ruthless streak unthinkable in a Western kids’ film.
Red-headed orphan Max (Martin Hreben) flees a cruel circus and seeks refuge at Castle Frankenstein, where Henry F (Boleslav Polivka) has created beings with watery or fiery characteristics (Eddie Constantine, Tilo Pruckner). Albert (Gerhardt Karzel), his newest monster, has a zip in his forehead a la Young Frankenstein; given a frozen genius brain, he comes to life as an amiable lunk with Hugh Grant dentition. The monster wants a mate and the bigoted villagers keep going on the rampage. A blacksmith-inventor tries to exploit the monster and Max tries to help Albert romance a winning chemist (Barbara De Rossi, of Nosferatu in Venice).
Also on hand: Count Dracula (Ferdy Mayne, reprising his role from The Vampire Happening) who can fly by day or night, the eponymous aunt (Viveca Lindfors, smoking cigars), a minion Igor (Jacques Herlin), a ghost lady (Mercedes Sampietro), librarian Mr Talbot (Flavio Bucci, of Suspiria) who might be a wolfman in the longer version (he’s the Wolf Man in the book) and sundry circus/village characters who pop up to partner off with the leftovers at the end. Czech director Juraj Jakubisko (Bathory) is just a referee. Bereft of their original voices, the cast rely on their looks. Settings are on a level with the locations used by Jean Rollin or Jesus Franco for monster rallies and there’s genuine affection for the characters, but it’s still a mess – with obvious lacunae and a tendency to have people run around in panic whenever plots collide.