Monday, March 2, 2009

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Director: Terence Fisher

Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Hazel Court, Robert Urquhart

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: The creature created by man and forgotten by nature!

Plot: Victor Frankenstein builds a creature and brings it to life. But his creature behaves not as he intended.

My Rating: 9/10

Would I watch it again? 'chyeah!

#1 on Hammer Horror (1957-1976)

This is the Hammer Studio's first color Gothic horror film that set the stage for a gazillion others through to the mid seventies. For the first time audiences saw a Frankenstein monster in color with gore and some trussed-up ladies for eye candy. It was a great combination that served them well for more than 15 years.

Besides the color, the biggest difference between this Frankenstein and the previous Universal pictures is that Peter Cushing's Baron Victor Frankenstein is a selfish, side-blinded scientist with no concern for anyone or anything other than his work. He's manipulative and cold and Cushing brings all of these qualities out with a brilliant precision.

How about these two exchanges. The first is with his bride-to-be, Elizabeth. She'd like to spend more time with him, as he seems most happy and playful when discussing his "work".

Victor: You'll be asking soon if you can help me with my experiments.
Elizabeth: But I would. I would like that more than anything in the world.
Victor: Well, who knows, my Dear. Perhaps you will....One day.

Victor's last line could be very innocent but I seriously doubt it. He would have no qualms of using her parts for an experiment and that's just way too fucking cool. And he says it with such tenderness and elegance.

How about this one. He's been nailin' his maid for who knows how long and she's jealous since Elizabeth showed up. Victor had promised to marry her, after all.

Justine: I'm going to have a baby

Victor: Why choose me as the father? Pick any man in the village. Chances are it'll be the right one.

Icy cold, man, icy cold and I'm loving every minute of it. This guy is ruthless and he's consistent.

Great opening matte painting that really sets the mood.

Something else they improved upon the Universal classic is the makeup of the monster. He actually looks more like he's been made up of various limbs and such. His head looks like it's been battered and decomposing. While I LOVE the original Karloff makeup, this is more effective in terms of realism. And speaking of the monster, he's much more sympathetic. I really felt sorry for him. There's more of an emotional appeal here than there had been before.

It's been a while since I last watched this and I'd forgotten how genuinely good it is. It's a remarkable piece of work that, if you remotely like this sort of thing, you will absolutely love it. Like most Hammer films, it looks great, feels great, the costumes, acting, music, everything is top notch and with a great story done differently than you're used to, you just can't go wrong. I'm really looking forward to re-visiting the sequel, THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1959). After that, there are FIVE more sequels that I have not seen. So there's six more to go and Cushing is Baron Frankenstein in all but one. Can't wait to tear into those.

Here is the order of the Hammer Frankenstein Pictures:

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
The Revenge of Frankenstein (1959)
The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)
Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)
The Horror of Frankenstein (1970)
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)

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