The Horror of Frankenstein (1970 UK)

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The Horror of Frankenstein (1970 UK)

Post  BoG on Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:55 pm

With this, the 6th Hammer Frankenstein film, the film series went back to its roots, in a way. It's kind of a remake of their own The Curse of Frankenstein, updated to fit the wry sensibilities of the late sixties/the seventies, self-aware of its own absurd presentation. It also seems evident that Hammer intended to restart the series with a new, younger Frankenstein (Ralph Bates); this was the first one without Peter Cushing (the previous film was Frankenstein Must be Destroyed). This retells the story of how Frankenstein inherited his father's estate, went to the best university and then decided to go it on his own during summer break, eventually creating this film's version of the monster (David Prowse).

As the new Victor Frankenstein, Bates is snarky, sarcastic, and callous, with very dry line delivery; he's the sociopath we'd seen when Cushing was at his most abhorrent. The tone, however, is that of a dark comedy. Bates alternates between bedding his maid (Kate O'Mara) and casually murdering various other characters who might make public his radical work. The operative word here, however, is "might." One victim, his supposed friend, does threaten to reveal Frankenstein's secrets, but in other cases, Frankenstein seems to kill just for the hell of it. The first two-thirds of the film is interesting as we get to know this amoral young scientist who never seems to take anything seriously and always seems to operate on a lark.
The appearance of the monster takes everything a step back; the creature looks like what he really is, a bodybuilder with a lame skullcap which is supposed to suggest an extra-large cranium. We're left with an unconvincing monster, plunging the film into mediocrity for its final third. Veronica Carlson as Elizabeth is rather wasted in a simpering role; she's beautiful but serves no function for the entire film. Most of the actors, especially Dennis Price as the ambitious graverobber, do well in their roles. Jon Finch (Frenzy) is in an early role as a classmate of Victor's who eventually becomes the local police chief.  BoG's Score: 7.5 out of 10
Frank Trivia: Produced & Directed by Jimmy Sangster in his first directing effort after a career of screenwriting such Hammer fare.
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