EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE (director: Freddie Francis; screenwriter: Anthony Hinds/based on the story by Mary Shelley; cinematographer: John Wilcox; editor: James Needs; music: Don Banks; cast: Peter Cushing (Baron Frankenstein), Peter Woodthorpe (Prof. Zoltán the Hypnotist), Duncan Lamont (Karlstaad Chief of Police), Sandor Elès (Hans, Frankenstein’s Assistant), Katy Wild (Beggar Girl), David Hutcheson (Burgomaster of Karlstaad), Kiwi Kingston (Monster), James Maxwell (Priest); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Anthony Hinds; Hammer/Universal; 1964-UK/USA)
“It’s only the solid professional acting ability of Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein that gives this pic any credibility.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This is Hammer’s third entry (The Curse of Frankenstein-1957/The Revenge of Frankenstein-1958) into the Frankenstein series, and it’s a disaster. After six years elapsed Hammer decided to have second-rate director Freddie Francis, who has little feel for horror stories, replace their star horror film director Terence Fisher, and under his helm the pic is clumsily done losing any connections with the previous films. Also, the weak script and hammy acting and the cheap production values add to the film’s amateurish look. The film had no spice or fun to it, and seemed tedious. It’s only the solid professional acting ability of Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein that gives this pic any credibility (and he wasn’t that great, either), before it ends in a pyrotechnical fireball. Hammer, in an agreement with Universal, abandons the Phil Leakey-Fisher conception of the Monster as created by Jack Pierce for Boris Karloff, and here uses the weaker and less effective one prepared by Roy Ashton.
Baron Frankenstein and his young loyal assistant Hans (Sandor Elès) must flee a German village when a local priest (Maxwell) discovers them doing the work of the devil by attempting to create a man from the parts salvaged from the dead. Hans stays with the older and much traveled baron because he possesses knowledge that can’t be learned at the university. The deranged genius baron decides to return after ten years to his ancestral castle in Karlstaad, despite fleeing from there under threat of arrest. Upon returning he discovers his home has been ransacked by the police chief (Lamont) and the burgomaster (Hutcheson). The baron unsuccessfully tries to get his possessions back from the burgomaster, as he wishes to sell his valuable paintings to restore his lab. But, instead, he ends up fleeing from the police chief and hides out in a mountainous retreat with a mute beggar girl (Wild). He is astonished to find that the Monster (Kiwi Kingston) he created when he lived before in Karlstaad, remains alive frozen in a glacier. When the baron, after thawing it out, can’t seem to succeed in reviving it he gets an egotistical hypnotist, Professor Zoltan (Peter Woodthorpe), who has come to the town for the carnival, to stimulate its brain. It works in bringing the Monster back to life, but the Monster turns violent and can only be calmed when the baron chloroforms it. But Zoltan soon shows the baron that only he can get the Monster to obey, and with that edge talks himself into a three-way partnership with the baron and his assistant. Zoltan has the Monster, unbeknownst to the research-minded baron, steal gold from the villagers and get revenge on the burgomaster and the police chief for kicking him out of town during the carnival. The Monster goes further than what Zoltan wanted and murders the burgomaster and kills a constable, whom is mistaken for the police chief when he dons the chief’s uniform as a joke.
Warning: spoiler to follow in the next paragraph.
After the baron’s arrest for the murders he escapes and the Monster is returned to the castle by the mute girl, whom the Monster favors. But the Monster gets drunk on the baron’s collection of booze and goes up in flames after destroying the lab and rejecting Zoltan’s hold over him by putting a stake in the greedy professor’s heart.
REVIEWED ON 11/5/2002 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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