EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN
third Frankenstein movie is one of the few films from the illustrious
studio to have escaped me until now, and so I was particularly
interested in this new release - the first time the film has
been available on DVD or, indeed, video in the UK. My expectations
for the film were, however, not that high, and by and large
it proved my suspicions correct.
Ignoring the previous films in the series, Evil of Frankenstein
opens with a spot of body snatching, as the Baron (played as
usual by Peter Cushing) continues his experiments with heart
transplants. When a fanatical priest wrecks his lab, Frankenstein
and assistant Hans head off to his old home town of Karlstaad,
where he plans to use the possessions in his old castle to finance
a new laboratory. However, on arrival he discovers that his
castle has been ransacked by villagers.
What's more, thanks to a Bjork-like peasant girl, he finds the
frozen body of his monster (who's continuity-wrecking creation
we see in a lengthy flashback). But attempts to revive it fail,
and he turns to a carnival hypnotist, Zoltan, to bring the creature
back to consciousness. This he does, but Zoltan is a bad egg,
and uses his hypnotic control of the monster for his own nefarious
As the above synopsis suggests, John Elder's screenplay runs
the gamut of genre clichés, and it is this that lets
the film down, making it probably the weakest entry in the series.
There are moments of interest - the fact that Frankenstein is
here shown almost as a sympathetic figure is unusual for the
series (Cushing's doctor was rarely anything but ruthless) and
the corruption of local officials (and blind ignorance of religious
figures) is also notable. But on the whole, the story is slight,
and simply moves from one predictable moment to another.
the plus side, the film looks gorgeous, and is generally well
acted - Cushing obviously gives it his all, and Peter Woodthorpe
is an effective foil. The monster, unfortunately, is a poor
effort. The make-up is modelled vaguely on the Universal/Karloff
original, but is so crudely executed as to look like little
more than a mask - wrestler Kiwi Kingston probably wasn't much
of an actor, but even Karloff might have struggled to convey
feeling in this get-up.
Evil of Frankenstein is an agreeable enough affair -
hardly Hammer's finest, but certainly entertaining. The DVD
features trailers for the film and Brides
of Dracula and a brief stills gallery but is otherwise
devoid of extras.
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