Monday, 18 June 2012
Frankenstein Created Woman (1967) - Review
I'm currently working my way through the 1950s-1960s output of British studio Hammer. The most recent Hammer DVD I've seen is Frankenstein Created Woman and, like most of the movies produced by this fabulous studio, I was rather impressed. Here's why.....
Frankenstein Created Woman is the third in the series of Hammer adaptions (using the word pretty fast and loose, I know) of Mary Shelley's famous 1818 novel. In this one, the chief premise of the film is asking what the relationship is between the body and the soul when, after Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) is revived back to life by his assistant Doctor Hertz (Thorley Walters), he becomes obsessed with "defeating death". And the major feat achieved by the film is that, amongst all this heavy meta physical exploration, the story keeps its feet firmly on solid narrative soil. The plot contrives in astonishing ways - in the form of a middle act court room scene - to provide a wonderfully twisted, Frankenstein-themed rendition of Romeo and Juliet. As our two star crossed lovers, Hans (Robert Morris) and disabled Christina (Susan Denberg), fall foul of fate in their attempts to be together.
There are extras, of course, in the form of the three aristocratic bullies who populate the film's more violent scenes. The three men - looking, and sounding, remarkably like the Droogs of A Clockwork Orange (FCW predates Kubricks classic by four years) - are the main villans of the piece, thereby allowing Fisher to explore the darker, more intriguing desires of Baron Frankenstein. Cushing is as on form as ever, playing the same cold, calculating Baron that has populated so many beloved Hammer pictures.
Fisher, despite his always subtle direction style, conjures up some striking images and keeps things moving fairly briskly for a Hammer production. While Bernard Hamman's score has a growing presence, becoming far more menacing as proceedings darken into what would, in modern day terms, be described as a slasher movie.
Of course, the script is also exploring class conflict and the nature of sexuality. But let's leave that to the academics and just enjoy Susan Denberg, in her one, notable screen role, advance on some poor chap, meat-cleaver in hand.