Wednesday, October 17, 2012


We now take a look at Hammer’s first color horror film
and their first film featuring the story of FRANKENSTEIN.
The worldwide success of this film led to several sequels
and the growing studio’s new versions of Dracula (1958)
and The Mummy (1959) and established Hammer as
the preeminent studio for horror.

(I'm the Frankenstein Monster and I approved this message!)

(Click to Frankensize)

In Hammer Film Productions’ movie THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957), the true monster of the story is the Doctor--played brilliantly and twistedly by Peter Cushing in his most villainous role.  The Monster, in this case, is played by Christopher Lee as a violent psychotic.  The kind of mindlessly violent creature who is more force of nature than relatable living being.

(Click to Frankensize)

In the beginning, Baron Victor Frankenstein awaits execution or murder in prison.  There, he tells the story if his life to a priest.
At a very young age his father’s estate is passed on to him when his father dies.  Young Frankenstein (hee-hee) is then mentored
by a man named Paul Krempe who begins to help Victor’s natural leanings toward science advance.
Eventually, after successfully bringing a dead dog back to life,
Victor proposes that they create a human life from scratch.

(Click to Frankensize)

Krempe tries to assist Victor with his pursuit, but eventually drops out because he cannot tolerate the continuous search for human remains.  The body of the creation is assembled from a corpse found swinging on a gallows, hands and eyes purchased from charnel house workers.  And for the brain, the all too essential mind of this new life, Doctor Frankenstein plans to murder a distinguished professor so that the monster can have his mind.

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And so he has the professor over in the guise of a friendly visit, but pushes the man from the top of the staircase, killing him in what appears to others to be a simple accident.  Once the professor is buried, Victor tries to steal his brain, but Krempe, who now is actively working against Victor’s ambitions, fights Victor and the brain is damaged in the scuffle.


Finally, with all of the parts assembled, including the damaged brain of the murdered professor, Frankenstein brings the Monster to life.  Because he is uncontrollably violent, Victor locks the Creature away but it escapes and murders an old blind man.  Victor and Krempe hunt down the Monster, shoot it and bury it.

(Click to Frankensize)

Once Krempe leaves, Frankenstein digs up and revives his creature, using it to murder his maid, Justine, when she threatens to tell authorities about his experiments.  Eventually, the Creature escapes again and threatens Victor’s bride, Elizabeth.  Victor attacks the Monster again, causing it to fall into a vat of acid and completely destroying it, leaving no proof that it ever existed.  Victor is then imprisoned for Justine’s murder.

Frankenstein begs Krempe to testify to the priest and jailers that it was the creature who killed Justine.  Krempe refuses and Victor is led away to his execution.

(Click to Frankensize)

Universal Studios fought to prevent Hammer from duplicating aspects of their 1931 film, and so make-up artist Phil Leakey to design a look that bore no resemblance to Boris Karloff’s original Monster as created by Jack Pierce.  On May 2, 1957, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN opened at the London Pavilion with an X certificate from the censors.

The film was remastered by Hammer films with its original aspect of 1:37:1 known as “The Academy Ratio” used on films up to 1953.  The restored frilm includes the previously banned eyeball scene, but not the head in the acid bath scene which remains lost.

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Unlike the Universal FRANKENSTEIN series, in which the Monster was the focus and recurring figure, it is Baron Victor Frankenstein who was the featured player throughout the Hammer series, while the Monsters varied.  And it was Peter Cushing who always played Victor except THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN, which was merely a remake of the original THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN.

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Warren Publishing in 1966 adapted THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN as fumetti.  And was adapted into a twenty page comic strip published in two issues of the magazine THE HOUSE OF HAMMER.  It was drawn by Alberto Cuyas from the script by Donne Avenell (based on John Burke’s novelization)  The cover of the second issue featured a painting of the Baron being attacked by his Monster by Brian Lewis.

(Click to Frankensize)

For many years THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN was the most profitable film ever produced in England by a British studio.

(Click to Frankensize)

A plethora of informative sites worth citing:

The censored eyeball shot:

The entire movie is available at Dailymotion, here:

Even better: Turner Classic Movies is offering THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN on for your viewing pleasure (alongside a hoary host of HAMMER HORROR to boot):

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 on TCM
8pm - HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)


11pm - THE MUMMY (1959)

12:45am - THE GORGON (1954)

2:15am - THE DEVIL’S BRIDE (1968)


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