I’m continuing with Hammer Films this month, as I look at their version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. After inheriting his family’s wealth, Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) uses the money to fund his research, assisted by his longtime friend and tutor Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart). However, Paul becomes increasingly concerned when Victor becomes obsessed with creating a new living being out of dead body parts, with Paul being particularly concerned with the well-being of Victor’s cousin and fiance Elizabeth (Hazel Court). However, Victor continues with his work and brings life to his Creature (Christopher Lee).
Like Horror of Dracula, which was made a year later, The Curse of Frankenstein is Hammer Films’ own take on a story that was previously made famous as one of the Universal Monsters. However, the big difference here is that The Curse of Frankenstein focuses much more on the man, than the monster. In fact, it can probably be argued that Peter Cushing’s titular character is the true monster of this story, especially when he resorts to murder to get the body parts that he needs.
The film is about two thirds complete when Christopher Lee, under heavy prosthetic make-up, makes his debut as The Creature. Other than the greenish grey skin, this version of Frankenstein’s Monster differs greatly from the more famous Boris Karloff version, with Lee being much more of a walking corpse. Because of how long it takes for the creature to show up, it almost seems like a bit of an afterthought, especially since Christopher Lee gets less than half an hour of screen time in the film. However, it is quite obvious that Peter Cushing is the true villain of this version, with the monster merely being a mindless killing machine.
The Curse of Frankenstein probably isn’t as iconic a film as Horror of Dracula, however it is still a different take on an iconic story.