The Evil of Frankenstein
|The Evil of Frankenstein|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Freddie Francis|
|Produced by||Anthony Hinds|
|Written by||John Elder|
|Music by||Don Banks|
|Edited by||James Needs|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|8 May 1964 (USA)|
The Evil of Frankenstein is a 1964 film directed by Freddie Francis. It stars Peter Cushing and New Zealand wrestler Kiwi Kingston. The film's version of the Monster is noted for resembling the one in Universal Pictures' original Frankenstein series of the 1930s and 1940s, including the distinctive laboratory sets as well as the flat-headed look of Jack Pierce's monster make-up which had been designed for Boris Karloff. Earlier Frankenstein films by Hammer had studiously avoided such similarities for copyright reasons. However, a new film distribution deal had been made between Hammer and Universal. As a result, Hammer had free rein to duplicate make-up and set elements.
A child witnesses an intruder steal the corpse of one of her recently dead relatives. Terrified, the child flees from the cabin where she is hiding. Running through the forest, a hand reaches out to her. The girl screams and runs away. The figure is revealed to be Baron Victor Frankenstein.
The body-snatcher takes the corpse to Frankenstein's secret laboratory. The Baron tells his assistant, Hans, to pay the man. When the body-snatcher asks what he will do with the body, Frankenstein says he intends to cut out the deceased man's heart, remarking; "He won't be needing it".
Meanwhile, a local priest discovers the theft and is morally outraged. The young child of the deceased who witnessed the theft identifies both the body-snatcher and his employer. The priest angrily confronts each in turn, and interrupts Frankenstein's attempt to restore life to the heart, smashing vital equipment in the lab. Forced to leave town because of their experiments, Frankenstein and Hans return to the Baron's hometown of Karlstaad, where they plan to sell valuables from the abandoned Frankenstein chateau to fund new work. Nearing the village, the pair nearly run over a wild-haired, deaf-mute young woman, who is being accosted by a couple of thugs. Hans tries to help her, but she flees to the hills. The men find a festival is in progress and are able to pass through the village unquestioned.
Upon their arrival, the chateau is found to have been apparently looted by the locals and the laboratory appears to be in ruins. As Hans pours the Baron a drink, Frankenstein recounts to Hans the events that led to his exile:
Ten years prior, he had brought a being to life. While reasonably functional in most aspects, the creature would eat nothing but fresh, raw meat and wantonly killed local livestock, eating their entrails. A police constable and some farmers encountered the creature with Frankenstein in the woods, and shot at both of them. Frankenstein suffered a grazed arm, the creature a non-lethal head wound. Baron Frankenstein was arrested, while the creature escaped to a nearby mountain (he is seen falling into a crevice after the sound of another gunshot). Frankenstein was briefly imprisoned, charged with assault of a police officer and having committed acts of heresy. He was fined and exiled, since up to that point the creature had not caused any human harm. The flashback sequence ends with the Baron lamenting the destruction of things humanity does not understand (a theme he repeats throughout the film).
The following day, the Baron and Hans enter Karlstaad for a meal, donning festival masks as a precaution. They enter a crowded inn and place an order. While waiting, Frankenstein spies the corrupt Burgomeister wearing one of his rings and is outraged, causing a scene which forces a hasty departure. The authorities have now recognised him, so the Baron flees with Hans through the village festival, eventually hiding at the hypnotist, Zoltan's, exhibit. The arrogant Zoltan clashes with the police and is arrested, covering the escape of Frankenstein and Hans.
Later that evening, Frankenstein bursts into the Burgomeister's apartments, again outraged at finding the corrupt official has largely stolen for himself Frankenstein's "confiscated" valuables. During his tirade, the police (led by the constable who had originally shot the creature – now the Chief of Police) breaks in to arrest the Baron. Frankenstein manages to escape. He and Hans retreat to the mountains where they again encounter the deaf girl. She leads them to her makeshift shelter in a cave to avoid an impending storm and soon, all go to sleep.
Sometime later, the waif awakens and skulks off, awakening Frankenstein. Curious, he searches through the cave and finds his original creation frozen inside a glacier. Calling Hans, they build a fire; thaw the creature out; carry it down the mountainside to the chateau; and restore it to life. However, the creature's brain, while functioning, will not respond to commands. Frankenstein, desperate to restore active consciousness to his creation, comes up with the idea of obtaining the services of Zoltan, the hypnotist, to reanimate the creature's mind. Zoltan has been banished from Karlstaad for not having a license to perform. After clever psychological manipulation by the Baron, he agrees to the task.
Zoltan is successful but has less than scientific interests at heart. With the creature responding only to his commands, Zoltan uses it to rob and take revenge upon the town's authorities. Frankenstein evicts Zoltan, who then instructs the creature to attack Frankenstein. He wards off the creature's attack with an oil lamp, frightening it. The creature in turn brutally kills Zoltan, who is blocking its path.
The creature quickly goes into a fit of violent rage. The Baron orders Hans to get the girl out of the room while he tries to confront his creation. In the middle of its rampage, the creature rips apart the electrical components which had been used to resurrect it, causing a fire to break out in the laboratory. Frankenstein tries to give the creature a dose of chloroform to subdue it, but it drinks it instead. Disgusted and poisoned, the creature stumbles, knocking over bottles of flammable liquids and causing a switch to short-circuit and explode into flames.
Hans asks the Baron if he can hear him, but Frankenstein orders Hans to get away from the place while he tries to shift the rubble blocking the doorway. The creature stumbles about in terror of the surrounding flames. Realizing that there is no other way out, the Baron grabs a chain and launches himself into the midst of the inferno in a desperate attempt to find another exit.
From a distance, the villagers see Hans and the girl fleeing from the chateau. They look back to see black smoke pouring out from the tower where the laboratory is. Suddenly there is an explosion and half of the tower is thrown over the edge of the cliff. Seeing this, Hans murmurs to himself that; "They beat him after all"...
The fate of Baron Frankenstein is unknown.
- Peter Cushing as Victor Frankenstein
- Peter Woodthorpe as Zoltan
- Duncan Lamont as Chief of Police
- Sandor Elès as Hans
- Katy Wild as Rena
- David Hutcheson as Burgomaster of Karlstaad
- James Maxwell as Priest
- Howard Goorney as Drunk
- Anthony Blackshaw as Policeman
- David Conville as Policeman
- Caron Gardner as Burgomaster's Wife
- Kiwi Kingston as the Creature
Additional American release cast
- Steven Geray as Dr. Sergado
- Patrick Horganas David Carrell
- Maria Palmer as Rena's mother
- William Phipps as Rena's father
- Tracy Stratford Rena as a child
The film breaks continuity from the preceding film, The Revenge of Frankenstein. Denis Meikle described the break: "Any pretext of a connection to The Revenge of Frankenstein is dispensed with in a brazen display of contempt for continuity. A flashback creates a prior history that is wholly unrelated to the last Sangster script and is instead plundered from Universal's Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman."
For the U.S. television release there were additional scenes featuring characters that did not appear in the original film and have no interaction with the main characters. Patrick Horgan plays a reporter who questions a doctor (Steven Geray) about Baron Frankenstein. There are also scenes of the deaf-mute girl (Tracy Stratford) and her parents (Maria Palmer and William Phipps), none of whom ever appear in the film again.
Howard Thompson of The New York Times wrote, "For the first half, the latest Frankenstein go-round has a succinct pull and a curious dignity ... the picture begins to say something about superstition and hypocrisy. Then it simply goes hog-wild (monster gets drunk) and heads for the ash heap." Variety gave the film a lukewarm review, writing that the direction was "deft enough over the more preposterous patches" and that there was "always something going on," but that the dialogue sometimes provoked unintended laughter and that some of the supporting cast "tend to ham it up to the make-believe's detriment." The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote that the monster made "a welcome return to tradition in a close approximation of Boris Karloff's celebrated make-up" and that the Baron's lab equipment was "as photogenic as ever," but that the film was "sadly tatty" in all other respects, concluding: "Saddled with an uninspiring cast, and a Bavarian village so stagy that the villagers rhubarbing away into their Olde German beermugs seem almost real by comparison, Freddie Francis finds the going too uphill by half."
Allmovie's review of the film was mixed to negative, calling it "dismal" and "the worst of Hammer Films' Frankenstein series". Other reviews have been more merciful in their reception. The film currently holds a three star rating (6/10) on IMDb and an average 50% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Home video release
In North America, the film was released on 6 September 2005 along with seven other Hammer horror films on the 2-DVD set The Hammer Horror Series (ASIN: B0009X770O), which is part of MCA-Universal's Franchise Collection, with two films per each side of the discs. In 2015, the set was released as a 4-DVD set putting two films per disc due to major glitches the original set had. This set was re-released on Blu-ray on 13 September 2016.
- Hallenbeck 2013, p. 124-126.
- Hallenbeck 2013, p. 135.
- Meikle 2008, p. 139.
- Thompson, Howard (June 18, 1964). "'Evil of Frankenstein' and 'Nightmare'". The New York Times: 29.
- "The Evil of Frankenstein". Variety: 6, 102. April 22, 1964.
- "The Evil of Frankenstein". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 31 (365): 92. June 1964.
- Robert Firsching. "The Evil of Frankenstein – Review". Allmovie. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
- "The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)". imdb. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- "The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Hallenbeck, Bruce G. (2013), The Hammer Frankenstein: British Cult Cinema, Midnight Marquee Press, ISBN 978-1936168330
- Meikle, Denis (2008), A History of Horrors: The Rise and Fall of the House of Hammer, Scarecrow Press, ISBN 9780810863811
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