“Don’t you see? You’ve created a monster!”
An arrogant baron (Peter Cushing) enlists the help of his mentor (Robert Urquhart) in carrying out a series of increasingly questionable scientific experiments. When he decides to bring a creature (Christopher Lee) composed of various body parts to life — resorting to murdering a professor (Paul Hardtmuth) for his brain — Urquhart becomes alarmed, and tries to warn Cushing’s naive fiancee (Hazel Court).
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “first of Hammer Studios’ horror films” has “few of the fascinating themes or the philosophizing found in the [original] novel or the 1931 film by James Whale.” He further complains that the picture “lacks the wit and melodrama of the Whale film”, noting that “Lee is neither as imposing a monster as Boris Karloff nor as sympathetic”, and pointing out the “jolting… depiction of Victor Frankenstein as a diabolical villain” who is not only a grandiose sociopath but an extreme cad. I’m essentially in agreement with Peary’s assessment. While the “production values are quite good”, and Cushing’s performance is excellent (it’s fun to see him playing “against type”, given his iconic connection to the heroic Van Helsing), this remake simply pales in comparison in every way but for the “distinct, superbright color”. It’s primarily of note for its historical relevance as the beginning of a new era of horror: according to Richard Scheib, “Aside from the flurry of atomic monster movies in the 1950s, there were almost no horror films made anywhere in the world between 1947 and the genre’s revival in 1957”.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein
- Atmospheric cinematography and period sets
No, though it’s worth viewing for its historical relevance.