“ Genre: Horror / Theatrical Release: 1967 / Suitable for 12 years and over / Director: Terence Fisher / Actors: Peter Cushing, Susan Denberg, Thorley Walters ... / DVD released 2007-01-01 at Optimum Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, PAL „
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Yet another decent Hammer Horror Production, that though not up there amongst the greatest horrors of all time, it certainly a lot of fun and added a twist or two to the idea of Frankenstein's Monster. This time Frankenstein's monster was a woman, and rather than just focusing on the physical changes, it also focuses on the idea that the soul and memory can also be transferred from one body to another. It stars Peter Cushing and has support from Thorley Walters and Susan Denberg.
At the start of the film, a man is executed, and his son called Hans sees it. Years later, Hans works for Frankenstein, alongside Dr Hertz as they attempt to reveal the secrets of life. Hans is a normal guy, though he does have a bit of a temper.
However, after a fight in which a man is killed by three local men, Hans is wrongfully arrested and tried for murder. He is then found guilty and sentenced to death. His girlfriend, Christina is heartbroken and after witnessing the execution, she kills herself.
Now Frankenstein has a body and a brain. He uses the body of Christina and the brain of Hans and with Dr Hertz, sets about bringing his new creation to life. After having success, Christina wakes up and is a seemingly new person. But soon, it becomes apparent that both souls have also been transferred, and both want revenge on those who blamed them.
This is a cut above most other Hammers, and a lot of other films because of the suggestion that the soul can be isolated and moved. Even Martin Scorsese mentioned that this was one of his favourite films at the National Film Theatre in 1987 because he thought the idea was a brilliant one.
It boasts some pretty chilling moments at times, with plenty of gore and death for fans of horror. Peter Cushing is on his usual top form as Frankenstein and he has cracking support from Thorley Walters as the bumbling Dr Hertz. Really a very good Hammer film that plays on atmosphere at times, and has a good revenge plot to add to the horror.
Film - Frankenstein Created Woman
Year of Release - 1967
Director - Terence Fisher
Stars of the Film - Peter Cushing, Susan Denberg, Thorley Walters
Continuing to watch my collection of Hammer films, I came across the intriguingly titled Frankenstein Created Woman from 1967. I didn't have a great deal of hope for it being a great film, but with Peter Cushing as its star, I knew it would at least be watchable. Cushing has a presence and a quiet charisma that draws the viewer's attention and I have enjoyed watching many of his movies over the years.
In this one, he plays Baron Frankenstein, an eccentric scientist living in a fairly rural area in Europe, which is probably Switzerland. He has two employees - the wonderfully grandfather-like Doctor Hertz (played by Thorley Walters) and the younger Hans (Robert Morris), whose father was executed on the guillotine when Hans was a boy.
In one of the Baron's daring experiments, Doctor Hertz successfully brought Baron Frankenstein back to life after being dead for an hour. To celebrate this achievement, they send Hans to the local pub-cum-café for a bottle of champagne. The establishment is run by a man and his daughter Christina (Susan Denberg), who Hans is dating.
Christina is deformed with a scarred face and a twisted body which impairs her walking, but Hans sees past this and they are in love with each other. But not everyone is so kind to her, as is illustrated by the arrival of three local young "gentlemen" - Anton (Peter Blythe), Johan (a young Derek Fowlds) and Karl (Barry Warren) - who tease and bully her. This leads to Hans attacking them in her defence, which is followed by a string of events, which I will let you discover.
The plot was full of shocks and surprises to me. I thought I had worked out the whole story after the first twenty minutes, but I was completely wrong and it went off in a totally different direction. This is why I am not revealing any more of the plot, as it will enthral you as it did me. It is a fascinating and at times horrific story, but a captivating one that quickly draws you in. You can't help but feel strong affection for Christina, the Baron and his team - and nothing but revulsion for Anton and his pals.
The acting varies from okay (Denberg) to very good (Cushing, Morris and Blythe especially). The locations and sets are good at building up an atmosphere, as the closed community of the village adds to the tension. Its guillotine standing proudly on the hill is a stark reminder to everyone of the possible consequence of any crime they may wish to commit.
There is quite a lot of violence, though I didn't feel any of it was gratuitous. The film has had both a 12 and 15 rating in the UK and I feel this is about right. My 13-year-old watched some of it and I felt it was borderline appropriate for her to see.
The violence is realistic and effective. The only part that was uncomfortable viewing for me was the decapitated head (I won't mention whose, so as to avoid spoilers!) towards the end, which was obviously a prop - and not a very convincing one at that. But it was so bad, it made me laugh, which slightly diminished the tension and drama that had been steadily building up until then.
This is one small fault though, in a film which I really enjoyed - and much more than I had been expecting to. The story is excellent and the duration of the film flies by, because of this. Like a book where you can't help but keep turning pages, you want to watch this and find out what happens next.
To any fans of Hammer films, 1960s horror or Peter Cushing, you should watch this. To everyone else - why not give it a try? You may be pleasantly surprised, like I was. It was also a clever twist on the original Frankenstein story, with enough shocks and surprises to hold your attention.
8 out of 10. Recommended.
I own this as part of The Hammer Collection, but it is available as a single DVD for £3.98 from Amazon UK.