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The Curse of Frankenstein – Classic Review

The Curse of FrankensteinThe Curse of Frankenstein – Another Hammer classic and the first of their Gothic horror movies for which the studio would become famous for. Directed by Terence Fisher, who would later make “ Dracula” and starring Peter Cushing as Victor Frankenstein as well as Christopher Lee as the Creature. It was released in 1957 and was an instant box office hit despite the rather conservative reviews of the British press “for sadists only” declared the Telegraph and “among the half dozen most repulsive films I have encountered” cried the Observer. Not very flattering for a movie as ground breaking as this.

Curse of frankenstein - Peter CushingAs with the production of “ Dracula” which followed this, the story veers from the original source material, which in this case is the stunning novel by Mary Shelley. However that doesn’t stop this from being a damned good yarn laced with some wonderful gallows humour; look out for the “pass the marmalade dear”.

The story begins with Frankenstein telling his confessional to priest in a prison cell. The story then shifts as we learn that at the age of fifteen the young Victor inherited his father’s title and estate and appoints himself a science tutor Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart) and together they work with only one goal in mind, the reanimation of the dead. After successfully reanimating the corpse of a dog Victor persuades a reluctant Paul to not just reanimate a human corpse but to build the perfect man. One could read a homosexual subtext to this and no doubt there is one, however I shall leave that to better qualified people than I.

Together Victor and Paul steal the body of a highway man but Victor requires his creature to have a “lifetime of knowledge” and murders Professor Bernstein (Paul Hardtmuth) for his brain. This is too much for Paul to bear and both he and Victor fight which results in the brain being damaged. However on a stormy night a stray bolt of lightning activates the Creature, unhinged, it attempts to strangle Victor before it can be restrained. In the morning, though, it’s a different story, they discover that the Creature has broken loose and escaped killing a blind man and his grandson before being shot by Paul. Undeterred by these events Victor exhumes the body of the Creature and attempts to revive it.

curse of frankenstein poster

A fabulous movie, and as stated earlier, ground breaking, simply for the reason that it dared to show blood in full glorious technicolour. Simply one of the finest of Hammer’s movies

Sources: Barnes, A. Hearn, M. The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films, 4th edition (2007) Titan Books, Titan Publishing, London.

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