Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
Baron Frankenstein, returns from the ‘dead’ and starts swapping bodies and souls all over the shop. He puts the soul of his former assistant, Hans – wrongly executed for murder – into the body of a disfigured young girl, patches her up and things start to go pear-shaped when Frankenstein’s rather beautiful creature begins to hunt-down those actually responsible for the murder he/she/it (?) swung for…..
Oddly enough, the one Frankenstein movie in which Baron Frankenstein himself is not particularly pivotal. The movie is less about the Baron himself and more simply about the revenge of an innocent man executed for a murder he didn’t commit; thus, looking almost like an episode of “The Twilight Zone” in historical dress. This movie is full of ghastly images in bright technicolor – the opening sequence is notably brutal. Furthermore, the guillotine on the hill outside the town seems to haunt the cinematography …..and I love the way the camera jerkily moves back to that image, set against the bleak sky, throughout the film.
I always like the characterisation in Terence Fisher’s films and this picture is no different. Thorley Walters plays the loveable, boozed and ‘muddled’ Dr Herz; a real contrast to the cold and efficient Baron (Cushing in his usual splendour) but unfortunately under his terrible spell. Hans is played by the competent, if melodramatic, Robert Morris. The 3 town playboys who bear the brunt of Hans’s bloody revenge are a joy to watch – watch out for a young Derek Fowlds as one of them – and add an element of childish excitement to the whole thing. The ‘woman’ of the movie’s title is Susan Denberg who really does nothing more than walk around and look pretty….a bit of a waste.
The movie is well-edited (murder scenes in particular) and the script very tongue-in-cheek – even for a hammer production.
On the downside, a predictable if abrupt ending and a bit of a pot-holed plot bring the film down a notch or two. More could have been done with a female monster too; the sexual themes are alluded to but left mostly unattended…we are left feeling the ‘woman’ is just a bit of a gimmick.
But, overall, an enjoyable old-fashioned hammer romp and despite his comparatively minor role, Cushing still manages to bowl you over. The quintessential Baron Frankenstein indeed.
hotdog rating: 7/10