DECEMBER 12, 2010
No he didn't! In fact a woman had a pretty big part in creating HIM!
False title aside, Frankenstein Created Woman is an interesting addition to the Frankenstein film canon, but a bit too drawn out for its own good at times. I can appreciate doing something different for what is essentially part 4 of a series, but when it hits the hour mark before Frankenstein gets around to creating ANYTHING, let alone woman, you must forgive me for being a bit restless by then.
The reason is that there's a lot of story to fill in, as this is not another "monster gets resurrected and runs amok" movie. Hell, Frankenstein himself barely appears until all of the plot points have been introduced, as we spend most of our time with Hans, a nice enough lad who has the misfortune of being the son of a murderer. He's in love with the disfigured daughter of an innkeeper, and the three of them are harassed by a group of assholes, who kill the innkeeper at one point and pin the blame on Hans. After Hans' trial finds him guilty, he is guillotined, and then the girl drowns herself. At long last, Frankenstein has all the corpses he needs to pull off his new experiment, which involves transferring the soul to a whole body instead of "creating life" by stitching body parts together and zapping it.
Note - I think Wes Craven saw this one. Overlong setup plus soul transference? That's exactly how one can describe Shocker!
Anyway, once Christina is resurrected with Hans' soul, it becomes a more traditional revenge/horror film, with her going around and getting even with the three asshole guys, under Hans' control. But by then the movie is almost over, and since the guys are wholly terrible human beings, it's not particularly engaging - go ahead and kill the jerks. Plus, since she has no control, she's not getting revenge on the guys that killed her father - Hans is getting revenge for his own death. So it's not an entirely successful revenge story either; it would have been more interesting if they had different goals in mind (i.e. Hans wanting to go after the police/lawyers involved in his trial, Christina wanting to go after the three guys that killed her father) and wrestled for control.
Don't get me wrong, I liked the film, because I dug the concept and fresh approach - I just wish it was executed better (with 49,000 Frankenstein movies in the world, why is no one remaking THIS?). There's still a lot to like, in particular Cushing, who seems refreshed at doing something different and adds a bit of humor to the proceedings. I loved his appearance at the trial, oblivious to being mocked about his 'mystical' ways and thumbing through the Bible almost sarcastically. I was also tickled by the way Christina saw Hans' execution - she's riding in a coach with another lady who demands to see the execution once she learns that one is about to occur - you got a sick idea of entertainment, lady. It's almost like when a father is driving and sees fireworks off in the distance and one of the kids starts demanding him to go out of his way so he/she can get a better look.
I also enjoyed Hans' fight with the three jerks at the beginning of the film, because he really holds his own against them for a while (I suspect that they realized how slow the film was in its 2nd act and thus decided to let the fight go as long as possible). It's a bit clunky, but they really smash up the place and constantly go back for more; it's the They Live of Hammer barfights.
Speaking of Hammer, this one has one of the all time best 'Hammer Endings', where the credits roll as soon as the last person dies without any sort of epilogue or final words from its protagonist. What makes it special is that Cushing/Frankenstein watches Christina jump to her death (again), and then he just sort of nods and walks off as the credits start to roll. No remorse, no attempt to help, nothing. Just another day for good ol' Victor; off to the pub then, cheerio.
Unusual for one of these DVDs, there's actually a bonus feature, in which Oliver Reed (seemingly sober!) narrates a history of the Hammer Frankenstein films. He doesn't provide much insight beyond basic director/year of release information, and I don't see much use in it (if you have seen the films you won't learn anything, if you haven't then you will be spoiling their surprises), but it's a nice effort. Beats the usual text writeup anyway. Plus Reed probably got some booze out of it one way or another, so win win.
What say you?