We jump across the pond for the next Frankenstein instalment for the Sci-Fi Chronicles. I’ve previously reviewed their first title, The Curse of Frankenstein, so today I’m looking at Hammer’s second Frankenstein film, which sees returning star Peter Cushing reprising his role as Victor Frankenstein.
Frankenstein escapes the guillotine with the aid of his loyal hunchback servant, Karl (Oscar Quitak), and changes his name to Stein. They set themselves up in the town of Carlsbruck and immediately continues his macabre experiments, all while serving as a doctor to all the classes of the village, treating them all with wit and charm, while ignoring the rest of the medical community.
Things don’t go completely smoothly for the doctor, however. He is approached by a young doctor, Kleve (Francis Matthews) who has recognized Frankenstein. He promises his silence, though, if he can become Frankenstein’s (now living under the name Stein) pupil. An agreement is reached, and the two begin to work together in earnest.
I find these films much more gothic and well-written than their Universal counterparts. These films are filled with colours and troubling images; including a pair of observing eyes and an arm floating in a solution, brought to life by electricity.
Stein plans to place Karl’s living brain into a new, perfect body he has created (he also has another secret project he’s been working on. But, more trouble arrives in the hospital, working home of the doctors, when the lovely Margaret (Dr. No’s Eunice Grayson) comes to work there. From the off, surprise, surprise, both Karl and Kleve are rather taken with her.
But the work must continue!!
The experiment appears to be a success and the new Karl (Michael Gwynn) is a medical miracle as far as Stein is concerned. Karl, however, doesn’t want to be a medical marvel and doesn’t want to be stared at, something that happened far too often with his deformed body, so with the unwitting help of Margaret he escapes. Kleve, in the interim worries aloud to Stein about one of his smaller experiments on a chimp that seems to be going wrong, predicting what will become of Karl!.
When violence and death ensues, the attention of the public is caught, including the doctors Stein ignored before, and they learn who he really is. When his newly informed patients attack him, Kleve removes Stein’s brain from his battered body and puts it into a new body (Peter Cushing as well) and takes up residence in London as Dr. Franck.
I love the Hammer horror films, and this one was no different, the stories are stronger, though the imagery from the Universal films are more iconic.
Still, I am looking forward to seeing what waits ahead as I dig through a couple more of the Hammer Frankenstein films soon!!!