Baron Victor von Frankenstein
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Unlike his novel counterpart, Frankenstein is now a baron that lives in Karlstaad, Switzerland and who is more cold-hearted. In his film debut, Frankenstein is a villain rather than hero. Frankenstein cheats on Elizabeth with his maid, Justine and is almost sociopathic in his methods of creating the Monster. Instead of using the parts of corpses, he brutally murders people for parts of his creation. But Frankenstein's reign of terror does not end there, instead he uses the Monster to kill off his obstacles, like Justine who plans to reveal her affair to Elizabeth. Towards the end of the film, Frankenstein becomes slightly more anti-heroic when he helps his friend Paul Krempe, the de facto hero of the film to kill the Monster, but Frankenstein is still punished for his crimes.
These are the most common traits in portrayals of Frankenstein in Hammer films, but his character is in some films altered to be more heroic. This is rare, however and Frankenstein is most often depicted as a sinister, ruthless man obsessed with his researches. His villainous nature is sometimes emphasised even further, such as in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed where he is portrayed as a rapist.
Hammer Frankenstein has his film debut in the Hammer version of Mary Shelley's novel, entitled The Curse of Frankenstein. He is portrayed by Hammer star Peter Cushing who would portray him in many sequels.
Frankenstein starts off as a mild-mannered baron with a friend, Paul Krempe (a version Henry Cleval) who tries to stop Frankenstein for going to far with his experiments. Frankenstein murders a professor in order to create his monster. Frankenstein cheats on his fiancée, Elizabeth with his maid, Justine. When Justine is impregnated, Frankenstein has the Monster kill her. Frankenstein soon reluctantly destroys the Monster and is sentenced to the gallows.
In the film's sequel, The Revenge of Frankenstein the Baron escapes the gallows with a maniacal dwarf to create a new creature. As part of their deal, the dwarf has his brain implanted in the new creature, not realising that side-effects of the transplant are homicidal mania and cannibalistic urges. This is when Frankenstein becomes slightly more anti-heroic rather than villainous when he tries to stop his evil creation. In the film he uses the alias, "Dr Victor Stein".
In The Evil of Frankenstein, contrary to what the title suggests, Frankenstein is made into more of a hero than usual. Many fans do not consider this film part of the same canon as it is harder to reconcile with the ongoing continuity of the series.
In Frankenstein Created Woman Frankenstein is viewed as less of an outright villain but more of a secondary, yet titular character, concerned with transplanting souls. He does try to stop the havoc he has caused, though he is too late.
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed featured an elderly baron, who on this occasion is more openly insane and evil. Finally resorting to murder to make a new monster, his creation (Freddie Jones), turns on him and apparently destroys the villainous baron once and for all.
Hammer then did not want a further direct sequel as the plots were becoming too similar, but as the character was still perceived to be popular and viable they remade the first film as a black comedy entitled The Horror of Frankenstein. This is the only Hammer film to feature an adult Frankenstein portrayed by a different actor, Ralph Bates, as a younger yet equally devious villain with humorous attributes (Melvyn Hayes played the youthful Frankenstein in the original film).
It was then that Hammer decided to end the franchise with one more film entitled Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell. In the film Frankenstein is working and living in a mental asylum, but uses various schemes to get contraband and privileges from the asylum's corrupt manager. Frankenstein begins murdering patients to build another monster, which is obviously insane. The film ends with Frankenstein vowing to continue his experiments with the dead. This film is notable for being set in an earlier era than the previous Peter Cushing Frankenstein film, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed and period medical instruments were used for greater accuracy.
Baron Victor von Frankenstein's fate remains unknown.