The Curse of Frankenstein
The Curse of Frankenstein – 1957 | 82 mins | Horror | Colour
Beginning in his teenage years just after the funeral of his father, the film initially follows the education of the young Victor Frankenstein (Melvyn Hayes) by his new tutor Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart). The Baron’s thirst for knowledge is unquenchable, and it isn’t long before tutor and pupil are on an equal footing. At this point, their scientific experiments turn to life itself, and they successfully revive a dead puppy. Though pleased with the results of this experiment, Victor reveals to Paul that his ambitions stretch further, his ultimate goal being to create a human being from dead tissue.
Appalled by the idea at first, Paul grudgingly agrees to help Victor in his quest, their first task being to find a suitable body with which to begin their work. Victor, in fact, has already discovered one: a recently hanged highwayman, whose body they cut from its roadside gibbet once night has fallen. Far from being a perfect specimen, the highwayman’s eyes have been pecked out by birds, so Victor begins the search for replacements, along with the other various anatomical bits and pieces required to complete his creation, including a new pair of hands and, of course, a brain.
The latter unfortunately eludes the Baron (Peter Cushing), but so driven is he by this point that he determines on murdering a brilliant professor Bernstein (Paul Hardtmuth), whom he invites to his castle, so that his creature will be born with ‘a lifetime’s knowledge’. A quarrel between Paul and Victor follows when Paul discovers the origin of the brain and the means by which it has been procured. In the subsequent struggle, the jar in which the brain has been placed gets smashed. Undeterred, Victor picks out the shards of glass from the organ, determined to carry on. But, as we later discover, the damage is extensive. From here on in, things take a distinctly ghoulish turn as the Baron, having been abandoned by Paul, strives to complete the task at hand on his own. Paul, meanwhile, stays on at the castle to protect Elizabeth (Hazel Court), the Baron’s cousin and intended, who has come to stay, but who remains ignorant of her fiancé’s experiments.
Finally, after various setbacks, Victor succeeds in animating his creature (Christopher Lee), but the damaged brain means that it is not only an imbecile, but also a psychotic one, attempting to strangle the Baron on sight. As to be expected the creature escapes and goes on the rampage in the local woods where it kills a blind woodsman and his grandson. It is eventually caught, after having half his face blown away by Paul’s gun, and buried in the woods. The Baron isn’t above grave robbing, though, and once Paul has left the castle, he digs up the creature’s body so that he can continue working on it. At this stage, Justine the maid (Valerie Gaunt) attempts to blackmail Victor into marrying her by threatening to disclose his work to the authorities, a situation Victor quickly remedies by locking Justine up in the same room as the creature, with the expected results.
Things finally come to a head on the eve of Victor and Elizabeth’s wedding when Paul returns to take part in the celebrations. Victor shows him the crude advances he has made with the creature, which compels Paul to tell the authorities what the Baron has been up to in his laboratory. While they argue outside Elizabeth’s curiosity finally gets the better of her, and she decides to sneak a peek at her intended’s workplace, only to discover the creature. Running to protect his beloved, Victor races to the roof where he battles it out with the creature who, after being set alight with an oil lamp, is pushed through a skylight into a convenient vat of acid where all trace of him disappears. All of this leaves the Baron with the task of explaining who committed the murders, especially as Paul and Elizabeth deny all knowledge of the creature. The picture ends with the Baron, now a raving wreck, being led away to the guillotine.
Terence Fisher: Director
Ted Marshall: Art Direction
Anthony Nelson Keys: Associate Producer
Jack Asher: Cinematography
Molly Arbuthnot: Costume Department
James Needs: Editing
Michael Carreras: Executive Producer
Henry Montsash: Makeup Department
Philip Leakey: Makeup Department
James Bernard: Music
Anthony Hinds: Producer
Max Rosenberg: Producer
Bernard Robinson: Production Design
Jimmy Sangster: Script
WH May: Sound Department