The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) [31 Days of Hammer Horror Review]

With Halloween looming large at the end of the month, and Hammer Horror recently making its return to the world of comics courtesy of the fine folks at Titan Comics, we figured now was the perfect time to take a look some of the fantastic Hammer back catalogue.

So this month, Jules is planning to watch every single Hammer Horror movie and share his thoughts with you fine, horror loving people.

You can check out the rest of our “31 Days of Hammer” by CLICKING HERE.

Released: 1958
Starring: Peter Cushing, Francis Matthews
Director: Terence Fisher

The first true Hammer horror to benefit from a sequel, Revenge of Frankenstein sums up how bold the studio were in those early days.

Universal had obviously run their version into the ground, crowbarring their flat-topped creature into a succession of unworthy sequels and team-ups.

Hammer on the other hand, looked more to Mary Shelley’s original novel for inspiration and instead of making it all about the monster, choose to focus on the life and works of Baron Frankenstein himself. Narratively it makes total sense, as the Baron was always the real monster.

It’s still a daring decision to make though. Christopher Lee had thankless task last time competing with Karloff’s classic, but through a combination of his remarkable physical acting and some memorable makeup, his fairly brief screen time still was enough to create a classic.

This time around, there’s no creature to hang the story on, but if anything, this proves that you don’t actually need one.

After escaping the guillotine with the help of his hunchbacked follower Karl, Baron Frankenstein had set himself up with a new medical practice in Carlsbruck under the new identity of Dr Stein. Working with his new assistant Dr. Hans Kleve (a wonderfully slippery Francis Matthews), the Baron is every bit as driven to create life as ever.

Transplanting the deformed Karl’s brain into a young, fit and healthy body seems simple enough, but it’s not long before he’s got a body count behind him, adding to the list of victims of Frankenstein’s obsession.

He might not be a traditional Frankenstein’s Monster, but Michael Gwynn carries off the right mix of pathos and intensity here. He’s not a creature, but Karl was doomed from the moment he rescued the Baron from the gallows and it’s the human moments Gwynn gives him after the brain transplant seems to be successful that make his transformation into a killer so effective.

As good as he is, Revenge Of Frankenstein is very much the Peter Cushing show. So much in fact, that he’s more of an anti-hero in this. He’s witty and charming, with just a hint of aloof sociopath hidden behind that affable exterior. He’s aristocratic, but not so much that you dislike him and just in case there was any doubt who you were meant to root for, an epilogue showing he’s escaped again and is now practicing in London is set up purely for a cheer at the end. And he deserves it.

Rating: 3.5/5.

JULESAV The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy

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