Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Evil that Men do

Frankenstein must be Destroyed from 1969, directed by Terence Fisher and written by Bert Batt. And yes I am out of order with these Hammer Frankensteins.

I'm a bit confused by the basic plot to this one. Baron Frankenstein wants to learn the secrets of brain transplantation from his colleague Doctor Brandt. However Brandt is an inmate in an asylum with his brain slowly being destroyed by some disease or tumour. So in order to get the secret the Baron has to blackmail Simon Ward and Veronica Carlson to help him abduct Brandt and transplant his brain into Freddie Jones' body. Which leaves me wondering what piece of knowledge Frankenstein lacked because he seemed to do a pretty good job of the transplant by himself. He certainly doesn't carry out the procedure in order to help an old friend because by this stage the Baron is a thoroughly nasty and completely self centred piece of work.

Which brings me to the troublesome scene in the middle of this movie where he rapes Carlson. A scene that was not in the script and was added by the producers against the objections of Cushing, Carlson and director Fisher. Clearly there was a shortage of the trademark Hammer heaving bosoms and the producers wanted some titillation for the the American distributors. It's a nasty scene that has no relevance or comeback on the rest of the plot. It's never referred to again and all the characters carry on as if it never happened, which of course from a script point of view it hadn't. Watching recent episodes of Game of Thrones reminds me that the depiction of rape within popular culture is just as prevalent and troubling now as it was in the sixties. I can only imagine how much trouble and embarrassment this caused the kind and gentlemanly Peter Cushing, and what a horror it must have been to film for Veronica Carlson.

Frankenstein doesn't make his creatures any more and seems to be set on brain transplant as his main area of research. Perhaps this reflected public concern about organ transplant in the 1960s, the first successful heart transplant took place in 1967. Freddie Jones does get to lumber around with a neat scar around his scalp but it's disappointing that Hammer have replaced gruesome creature makeup with unpleasant sex scenes. Just one our of five surgical stitches for this offering. Let's hope for better from The Evil of Frankenstein.

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