The Sci-Fi Chronicles brings me to yet another entry into the Hammer horror films, this time it is Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. While gaudy and blood soaked Technicolor bring us back to the world of Frankenstein, again played by a restrained Peter Cushing, who plays the character stronger this time, a sharp wit, devious mind, arrogant and a strong will and undeniably a stronger entry into the catalogue than the previous film, I think at this point, Frankenstein has over stayed his welcome at Hammer.
Cushing’s Frankenstein has settled into a new town, but it brings about a dearth of old familiar problems, bodies, help, and the a series of troubling experiments that lead to horror and inevitable confrontations. At no point in the series, has he seemed to have learned anything from past experiences, and yet, the way he is portrayed doesn’t quite seem obsessive and driven…
Settling into the new village, he takes a room in a boarding house run by Anna (Veronica Carlson), who is having a relationship with the rather androgynous looking Doctor Karl Holst (Simon Ward), who works in the local asylum, but has an illegal drug trade on the side. Frankenstein learns of this, and blackmails the two of them into helping him.
Apparently, housed within the asylum, is a Dr. Brandt (George Pravda), someone Frankenstein, through the course of his experiments has been in contact with, and someone, who has perfected the brain transplant that seems to have eluded the Baron to this point.
Driven by his arrogance, and pursued by an equally arrogant investigator, Frisch (Thorley Walters), Frankenstein removes the Doctor from the asylum, but as these things happen, he is dying, and Frankenstein must perform a brain transplant, removing Brandt’s brain and placing it into the body of the ill-fated Freddie Jones’ character, Professor Richter. This sequence is probably the most exemplary one in the film, because despite the fact that you don’t actually see the cutting into the skulls, or the removal of the brains, a splendid use of sound effects when the saw is at work, and the squelching sound of a brain’s removal makes for a horrific sequence.
An equally horrific sequence, and one that seems glaringly out-of-place in the film, is Frankenstein’s rape of Anna. This one scene doesn’t jibe with the rest of the film at all, seems disgustingly out-of-place, and serves only to make the audience despise Frankenstein. Until this point in the series, the viewer has only had to contend with Frankenstein’s mad genius and his drive to create life from the dead, reanimating already deceased beings, this violation of a living soul, for so base a desire, seems completely out of character not only for Frankenstein, but the Hammer films themselves.
Things unravel quickly, as they always tend to in these films, and Richter/Brandt leads Frankenstein into a final (?) confrontation, that sees the two of them destroyed once and for all (?).
After this one, perhaps it’s time for something a little lighter from the Frankenstein story…