Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Best served cold

Revenge of Frankenstein from 1958, directed by Terence Fisher and written by the other half of that familiar team from early Hammer, Jimmy Sangster.

Hammer knew when they were on to a good thing and this sequel was knocked out just one year after the Curse of Frankenstein, and yes I am doing the Frankenstein movies out of order but I'm watching them as I get hold of them. In the same way as the Hammer Draculas had to find a new way to revive the Count for each successive film here they have to spirit Peter Cushing's Baron Frankenstein away from the guillotine so that he can set up shop in a new town and start practising medicine as the not at all suspicious sounding Dr Stein. While he is popular with both society ladies and the patients of the workhouse hospital, he also has his secret laboratory and has soon recruited Francis Matthews to assist him in bringing life to his new creation. 

Frankenstein skills have advanced and this time he has fashioned a perfect male body into which he transplants the brain of his deformed servant, Karl. At first all goes well but once the creature (Richard Wordsworth) has escaped and encountered a sympathetic society lady his body betrays him and starts to revert back to his deformed shape. The usual mayhem ensues and once again the mob is soon turning on the villainous Baron. Fortunately Francis Matthews is on hand to save the day and rescue Cushing who escapes to London to start again as Dr Victor Franck. Apparently Baron Frankenstein shares Count Dracula's belief that if you spell your last name slightly differently no one will notice. Works every time.

Peter Cushing makes Frankenstein a nastier person in each film and Richard Wordsworth gives us a very sympathetic creature. His slow degeneration recalls his iconic performance as the doomed astronaut Victor Carroon in the movie version of the Quatermass Experiment. Elsewhere Michael Ripper has again beaten everyone else to the punch in the Hammer Michael Ripper drinking game. Here he makes up one half of a comic pair of drunken gravediggers with Lionel Jeffries filling the other role. The gore of the first film is mostly missing and all the bosoms are well hidden with little or no heaving to be seen. Not a bad outing for the Hammer monster but maybe only three out of five twitching disembodied hands.

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