Friday, October 19, 2007

The Revenge of Frankenstein

Yes, you’re getting a Peter Cushing two-fer. Sit there and enjoy it, bucko. This, by the way, was his second turn as Baron Frankenstein for Hammer Films, and while he doesn’t quite have the role perfectly nailed down like he would in later films, he’s got the main bits down pat, and brings his usual charm to all the proceedings.

Set right after the first film, it opens with the Baron facing the guillotine for the murders committed by his creation. He manages to escape, and makes his getaway to another small town elsewhere in Germany. For those not big on European history, I should point out that Germany was not actually a unified nation until the middle of the 1800s, and spent most of its history existing as a collective of city states. This lack of unity provided an ideal living situation for any mad scientists living at the time, who found it much easier to pack up all their things and find a new home elsewhere than their modern day equivalents do. Really, fleeing to a new town within a hundred miles or so is a good deal better than having to travel all the way to Argentina, don’t you think?

Naturally, once he arrives (under the clever pseudonym Dr. Stein), his experiments continue, though he’s been able to refine things quite a bit. Outside of a few scars, he’s now able to make his new attempt look perfectly normal, unlike the ghoulish monster played by Christopher Lee in the first film. In a nice twist, he even has a living, willing subject ready to provide a brain, as his assistant suffers from partial paralysis and wants the new body so he can function like a normal person. It all seems to be coming together a bit too well, so you just know it’s going to end in a good deal of tragedy. Exactly what form this tragedy takes I will not reveal, but it simply wouldn’t be a Frankenstein movie without at least one angry mob of villagers forming at the end ready to carry him off, and this film does not disappoint in that regard.

This is not Hammer’s best Frankenstein movie by any means, but I haven’t really seen them doing an actual bad one. They managed to change up each of these films enough to keep them fresh right up until the company folded close to two decades after this one, which is something they didn’t always manage to do with some of their other franchises like Dracula. This probably shouldn’t be the first one you check out, but you’ll enjoy it all the same.

Rating: ** ½

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