A relentless Dr. Frankenstein is bound and determined to discover the power of reanimating dead human tissue. Ignoring all warnings this madman attempts the impossible and creates a new reanimated man out of dead body parts. But this creature is all but a success as it hungers for murder and carnage.
Directed in 1957 by Terence Fisher and stars Peter Cushing as Doctor Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as the creature. The Curse of Frankenstein was the first of the “Hammer horror” collection and is what launched a new wave of classic monster films in the 50’s like Dracula and The Mummy.
The Curse Of Frankenstein is a film that received a great deal of criticism when it was released. Next to Universal coming down hard on Hammer Films to not replicate their trademarked monsters, British critics thought the film was too grotesque and lacked story. However the film did relatively well in America. It’s a good example of how horror can transcend the norms of what is considered “too far” in gore or violence. Compare this movie to the 1931 classic and it’s far more gruesome. Even by today’s standards the film is tame. Horror just stays ahead of the times.
What I like about this movie is how Dr. Frankenstein slips further into madness and wickedness. Peter Cushing is amazing in his portrayal of the character, of course Cushing was good in pretty much everything he did.
The dude is a complete monster and has total selfish reasons for anything he does. From the very beginning he displays signs of carelessness towards everything and everyone around him. He cheats on the woman he’s supposed to marry. He doesn’t even think twice when it comes to robbing graves for his research. He just takes and takes in order to succeed. Even going to the point of murdering someone in order to make his creature. He’s pushed to the limit of morality.
One scene that depicts Victors madness is when they first grave rob a criminal that was executed. The eyes and face have been pecked to shreds by the crows so Victor disposes of the brain. He doesn’t even think twice about this and just cuts the head off and throws it into a vat of acid. But what he does during this entire process that sets the attitude of the entire movie. Victor has blood on his hands after the decapitation. Instead of using a towel he just wipes it off on his coat jacket. As if everything that isn’t his research doesn’t matter. The blood on his chest is like a symbol for the carnage he spreads.
When Victor finally does succeed, the creature (of course) is violent and goes on a killing spree. Christopher Lee plays the creature and it’s a far different kind of monster than the Universal series.
The first appearance of the creature is a memorable scene. As Victor enters the room and the monster is standing there wrapped in medical wraps. The monster rips the bandages off his face and the camera zooms in the dead face of Lee! I love the diseased cataract eye and decaying skin. Even the way the monster was created is much different than the original film. Instead of the cliche castle dungeon laboratory with the electronic devices and great bolts of lightning. We have the body sitting in a huge vat of liquid. It’s a more realistic science experiment but doesn’t create as good atmosphere as the original film.
The Curse of Frankenstein is a great film and a good bit of history for any horror enthusiast. I love the saturated colors and deep sounds of Hammer Horror. It brought back the classic monsters to a new audience and may have been the last time it will ever truly happen. Universal is attempting to re-establish these monsters once more but the 2017 film The Mummy was a crappy action/horror film. For some reason I don’t think new generations will buy into these re-vamping of the classic monster films. The Curse of Frankenstein will live as a personal favorite of mine.