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Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) is about to be executed by the
guillotine when he asks for a priest (Alex Galleir) to tell him what has really
As a young man (then played by Melvyn Hayes), Victor's parents
had died, & he decides to take his scientific education into his own hands
(since he is rich enough to afford himself only the best) & thus advertizes
for a tutor he finds in Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart). Soon though he has
succeeded over Paul in terms of knowledge, but keeps him in his employ anyways
as a perfect assistant. Victor's & Paul's experiments soon center around
the reviving of dead animals, & with considerable success, too, then Victor
decides not merely to return life but to create it ... which is where his
experiments take a considerable turn into the macabre & involve massive
graverobbing & acquiring bodyparts from the gallows as well as doubtful
Eventually Paul even decides to quit the experiments for good, but
decides to still stick around Victor's manor to watch over Victor's bride to
be, his impoverished cousin Elizabeth (Hazel Court).
Even without Paul's
help, Victor's experiments on creating life go on, until only a brain is
missing ... & to that end, Victor invites professor Bernstein (Paul
Hardtmuth) one evening & accidently pushes him down a balcony to his
death ... in order to have a most brilliant brain for his creation.
about this, Paul gets upset, &, when getting into a rowe with Victor about
it, the brain is damaged ... but Victor carries on anyhow, until one evening
the creature (now played by Christopher Lee) is revived prematurely by freak
lightning, at first almost kills its own creator, then escapes into the woods
& kills a blind man (Fred Johnson), before Paul, who went after it with
Victor, is able to shoot it in the head. This should be the end of it, &
after they have buried the creature, Paul, feeling there is no longer need to
watch over Elizabeth, leaves castle Frankenstein ...
But of course it's not
easy to keep a good creature down, & Victor has woon dug it up &
revived it by advanced brain surgery ... & when Victor's servant Justine
(Valerie Gaunt) wants to blackmail Victor into marrying her when she learns
Victor is going to marry Elizabeth, the creature even becomes Victor's partner
in crime when it kills Elizabeth ...
On the evening before the wedding, Paul
returns to castle Frankenstein for the celebration & to reconcile with his
old friend ... but to his horror finds him still conducting his experiments.
Realizing it's too late to talk Victor out of it now, Paul heads for the
authorities, but by then Victor's creature ahs already freed itself, threatens
Elizabeth, & ultimately gets into a fight with Victor, who pzuts all effort
into pushing his creature into his own acid tank ... where it quickly
Back in the cell with the priest, Victor tries to desperately
convince the priest the story about the creature is true - the creature which
only Victor & Paul have seen & are still alive - but to no avail, &
even Paul denies that such a creature has ever existed ... which makes Victor
look like a raving madman, & eventually he is sent to the guillotine ...
(then) recently had British smallfry production company Hammer had ome
success with the sci-fi-horror-films The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)
& Quatermass 2 (1957), but Curse
of Frankenstein was the film that finally & really put Hammer
onto the map (& would spawn the studio's long production line of gothic
horrors that ranged from the great to the forgettable):
Curse of Frankenstein
to this day stands out as a supreme example of gothic horror moviemaking, in
all its glorious gory colours, profiting vastly from Terence Fisher's tight
direction & his underastanding of the use of colour in the context of a
horror movie - then by no means new but a novelty. The film also vastly shifts
away from Universal's
romantic depiction of the story (Frankenstein
from 1931, a classic in its own right), by turning Frankenstein himself into
the actual monster, & relegating the voice of reason to the supporting
character of Paul ... which of course works splendidly mainly to the
magnificent performance of Peter Cushing (until then only known as a tv actor
in Great Britain).
Cushing would repeat his performance of Frankenstein 5
more times as well as assuming the roles of other key Hammer-characters
(most notably Van
Helsing in Hammer's Dracula