Wednesday 31 October 2007

The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) Terence Fisher

While Ed Wood was massacring horror and science fiction movies in Hollywood, Hammer Films in England were reinventing them. The Curse of Frankenstein was their launching pad and for years it was the most profitable homegrown movie. Inevitably there would be a sequel and The Revenge of Frankenstein proved to be the second in a series of seven, made a single year after the original. Terence Fisher returned to direct, Peter Cushing reprised his role and Jimmy Sangster is the man with the pen putting the story together. There's no Christopher Lee this time out but that's hardly a bad combination even without him.

In 1860 the young, virile and bare chested Peter Cushing version of Baron Frankenstein was condemned to death by guillotine. As you can imagine this doesn't quite have the effect intended. When a couple of drunken graverobbers dig up the coffin to sell the body they find a priest without a head instead. The Baron is on the loose and working under a new identity. Now he's Dr Stein and he's busy stealing all the other doctors' patients in Carlsbruck.

Naturally he's also up to all his old tricks. He has a new 'monster', this time a more perfect looking one: huge and pristine. He also has a willing donor of a living brain to transplant into this new being: his helper Karl who brain is imprisoned within a damaged and malformed body. He even acquires a young assistant, Dr Hans Kleve, who recognises the Baron from his previous escapades under his real name some years earlier and wishes to study under him.

The story is just as you'd expect it, there isn't a lot of gore or cool effects (though there are a couple of brains being dropped into glass jars), there's little in the way of subplot and nobody really does much except Cushing. There's not even anything really in the way of revenge, other than a quick monologue by the Baron at one point. In other words it's a palatable Frankenstein tale but it's not much to write home about.

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