THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (1970)
Article 2782 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-19-2008
Posting Date: 3-26-2009
Directed by Jimmy Sangster
Featuring Ralph Bates, Kate O’Mara, Veronica Carlson
Baron Frankenstein leaves the university in order to pursue his own research, in which he plans to assemble a man from body parts and bring him to life.
This completes my coverage of the Hammer Frankenstein movies, and I definitely did not save the best for last. This is the only one in the series that did not feature Peter Cushing, but that’s perfectly understandable, as it concentrates on his early years. Actually, I didn’t quite know what to make of this one until I read in one of my sources that the movie was a comic rendering of the tale. Knowing that now, I can see it; Frankenstein’s habit of making light of everything in his path, his use of a chart with numbered body parts to keep track of what he has and what he needs, the extreme stupidity of all of those he ends up killing, etc. – they all hint that this movie isn’t something that should be taken too seriously. Unfortunately, only one actor in the cast seems to know it’s a comedy, and he (Dennis Price) steals the show as the grave robber who is overly ambitious in supplying Frankenstein with his bodies. Ralph Bates seems to grasp the idea, but he never really fully commits to a comic performance, and everyone else in the cast seems to be performing as if it’s anything but a comedy. That’s a major problem; comedy requires a certain clearness of purpose, an awareness that one is doing a comedy, and good timing to work, and, for the most part, those qualities are not present here. Even the score thinks it’s a straightforward horror movie. It’s a pity, because as a straightforward horror movie, it’s a washout; the story doesn’t really go anywhere new, the monster is a nonentity (David Prowse would do much better in FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL), and the ending is just plain bad. This is far and away the weakest of the Hammer Frankenstein movies.