Hammer Horrors – The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Knowing that they couldn’t replicate the monster make-up from Universal’s classic Frankenstein series, British film studio, Hammer took a different tack and made Baron Frankenstein the real monster of the piece. This was hinted it in Universal’s series but Colin Clive’s Baron Frankenstein, although driven by his work at the cost of his personal life, didn’t come close to Peter Cushing’s Baron in terms of ruthlessness. Where Clive’s Baron would rob from graves to secure body parts, Cushing’s Baron gets his own hands dirty by resorting to murder.

Both versions are excellent movies and although Universal’s has the edge simply because of Boris Karloff’s stunning performance as the monster, Hammer’s film comes a close second. Christopher Lee’s make up has been described as looking like a car crash and perhaps for this reason he is unable to create sympathy with the viewer, but then the film doesn’t take that direction –   Lee’s monster shambles about like an ill coordinated  drunken lunatic. One heavily cut scene involving the monster coming across a blind man in the woods is a direct play on a similar scene in Universal’s original movie.

 

At the end of it all though, Curse of Frankenstein is a classic movie that any horror fan worth his/her salt will want to seek out. It made a mega star of Peter Cushing and was the first time those two horror heavyweights Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing appeared on screen together.

 

A great screenplay from Jimmy Sangster and effective direction from Terence Fisher makes this movie one that will be watched over and over again. It’s just a pity the DVD release doesn’t contain any real extras – this is, after all, an important film in the history of British cinema and kickstarted Hammer’s horror cycle.

 

 

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One Response to “Hammer Horrors – The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)”

  1. Hi Gary!
    Just noticed this post and wanted to say how true it is, the marked differences between the two adaptations. Karloff’s is classic! 😉 I heard that because Universal had the copyright to the makeup of how to design the Frankenstein monster, that’s why Hammer films couldn’t do as good a job with the appearance–was watching the TCM Stephen King at the Movies show when they brought this up. Love old horror films! 🙂

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