Hammer Films: “The Curse of Frankenstein” (1957)

Curse of Frankenstein

Universal Studios kicked off their classic monster saga with Count Dracula himself, but Hammer Films began with a darker adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel, directed by Terence Fisher. “The Curse of Frankenstein” is told in a flashback as Baron Victor von Frankenstein is about to face the guillotine for his heinous crimes.

Victor Frankenstein is just as determined and passionate as Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) in 1931’s “Frankenstein,” but nowhere near as sympathetic. Victor not only robs graves, but commits murder when necessary to obtain the body parts he needs. He also betrays his fiancé (and cousin?) Elizabeth (Hazel Court) with his chambermaid. His friend and colleague, Dr. Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart) eventually becomes disgusted with Victor and wants to walk away from him, but is worried about what will become of Elizabeth.

The culmination of Victor’s research is a soulless Creature played by Christopher Lee. There are some similarities to the Boris Karloff monster in that Lee is tall and given a green complexion. He also sports random scars, two different colored eyes, and a mop-top hairdo. Of course, the Creature escapes and crosses paths with an elderly blind man, but this Creature isn’t looking to make any friends. Paul shoots and apparently kills the Creature, but Victor insanely brings life to it yet again. Victor even uses the Creature to dispose of his mistress, who was putting the screws to him to get married.

The Creature eventually goes after Elizabeth. Victor does save her (he also accidentally shoots her) and his creation falls into a tub of acid, dissolving all traces of its existence. All of the Creature’s murders get pinned on Victor and Paul chooses to not corroborate his story. Paul departs with Elizabeth and leaves Victor in his cell to meet his fate. The films ends with the implication that Victor is beheaded.

The first sequel, “The Revenge of Frankenstein” opens with Victor being rescued from his executioners by goons looking for a payday. Dr. Stein, as he now calls himself, is eventually discovered and beaten to death, but he is resurrected by his protégé. Victor finally became somewhat sympathetic in “Frankenstein Created Woman” when his first female creature (who is quite attractive) only kills those who deserve to die. She then commits suicide and Victor actually looks disappointed by what has transpired. He goes back to being a fiend in “Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed” when he blackmails a young couple into assisting him and he rapes the girl. And I think everybody knows that David Prowse played the simian like creature in “Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell.” Cushing and Prowse would famously be reunited in “Star Wars” as Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader respectively.

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About domcappelloblog

New York based screenwriter.

Posted on August 6, 2013, in Hammer Films, Horror and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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