Monday, August 11, 2008

The Evil of Frankenstein

Freddie Francis | 1964 | 84 mins | UK

In perhaps his most famous role for Hammer Film Productions after Dr. Van Helsing, Peter Cushing returns in this (third of seven, I think?) Frankenstein film as the Baron himself. Destitute and penniless but as debonair as ever, the Baron has been kicked out of yet another town for stealing cadavers and decides to return to his old haunt of Karlstaad to see if any of the precious belongings in his chateau can be sold off to fund his further experiments. He finds the chateau (more of a castle, really) looted and left in total disarray, but not so uninhabitable that he can’t start up his old lab again, thank heavens.

When he and his loyal helper have to flee the town after an altercation with local officials, they end up taking shelter in a nearby cave, generously shared with them by a sexy local deaf-mute girl. Lo and behold, Frankenstein’s long lost monster is found to be trapped in an icy crevasse in the cave, just waiting to be dug up, thawed and reanimated.

At this point, assorted corrupt local politicians and a shady hypnotist named Zoltan get mixed into the muck while Peter Cushing tries to keep his terribly sophisticated head above water.

The Frankenstein makeup isn’t stellar in this film, and the monster is not so much scary as “there” – a dull but necessary reminder of why it is that the townspeople are supposed to be so scared of Baron Frankenstein. His icy disregard for their petty morals and foolish rules about what’s to be done with the dead are more chilling by far!

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