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The Curse of Frankenstein
Frankensteins Fluch

UK 1957
produced by
Anthony Hinds, Michael Carreras (executive) for Hammer
directed by Terence Fisher
starring Peter Cushing, Hazel Court, Robert Urquhart, Christopher Lee, Valerie Gaunt, Melvyn Hayes, Paul Hardtmuth, Noel Hood, Fred Johnson, Claude Kingston, Alex Gallier, Michael Mulcaster, Andrew Leigh, Anne Blake
screenplay by Jimmy Sangster, based on Frankenstein by Mary W. Shelley, music by James Bernard, conducted by John Hollingsworth

Frankenstein, Hammer's Frankenstein, Frankenstein (Peter Cushing)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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 happened ...

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 sources.

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.

Learning 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 dissolves.

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 ...

 

Only (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 series).

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
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starring
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out now on DVD