Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)

Article 2781 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-18-2008
Posting Date: 3-25-2009
Directed by Terence Fisher
Featuring Peter Cushing, Shane Briant, Madeline Smith
Country: UK

A young doctor is committed to an insane asylum for his experiments with corpses. There he encounters Baron Frankenstein, who enlists him as an assistant in his latest project; creating a new man from parts taken from the inmates.

This was Hammer’s final movie in the Frankenstein series, as well as Terence Fisher’s last movie. It’s generally considered one of the weakest of the series, but I quite liked it, at least partially because Peter Cushing is in top form; he makes full use of every bit of dialogue and is fascinating to watch. It is a bit disappointing in some ways; I thought it was a little lazy scriptwise to have him going back to the monster-creating business after the variety of tasks he undertook in the other sequels of the series, and the movie is sometimes unnecessarily lurid, especially at the disappointing climax. I also can’t help but give a little credit to David Prowse as the monster; despite the elaborate makeup and costume, he manages to use his body language to give a marked change to the monster after his brain transplant. The movie also successfully engenders our sympathy for him; when the two doctors and the mute female assistant celebrate the success of the operation, we are painfully aware that the monster (the fruit of their labors) is not to partake of the celebration. The story rehashes certain elements of other movies from the series, but Cushing keeps us interested. The movie has an odd ending, with Frankenstein still alive and looking with hope towards the future, whereas most of the other movies in the series at least gave the semblance of him being punished for his crimes, and it’s ironic that despite his looking forward into the future, this was the end of the line for the series.


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