APRIL 2, 2011
I actually made a joke that Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed because he Created Woman, without realizing that this is actually the direct followup to that film. I've long since given up trying to watch these (or the Draculas) in any order, because it rarely seems to matter, and I'm always at the mercy of "Long Waits" and the like anyway, but I think this makes the first time I've actually watched any two in order. Well played, BC.
Anyway, I liked this one a lot more than Woman. Like that film, it's light on the actual horror elements, with the monster only coming to life in the final reel, and he doesn't even kill anyone (well, he might kill Karl near the very end of the movie, as he tosses him aside and we never see him move again, and this being a Hammer film they don't bother to have any sort of epilogue), so that might be a turnoff for some. But I found it quite compelling all the same, with Frankenstein being more evil than usual and blackmailing some folks to help him with his experiments. So it's not yet another Frankenstein vs. his creation tale, but more a Frankenstein vs. pretty much everyone movie.
And Peter Cushing continues his rather droll interpretation of the doctor from the last film. There's a great exchange about his need for coffee, and I also loved his bit with four guys who are staying at the same hotel he is, as they discuss the recent events and speak dismissively about Frankenstein and science. "Oh, I wasn't aware you were doctors," he interrupts, and when they tell him that they are not, he replies "Oh, for a minute I thought you knew what you were talking about." It's like the old UK version of "Do you like apples?", where it's a good insult that requires the desired response from the insulted in order to work. I just wish they were in the movie more; they were a good source of exposition, and someone for Frankenstein to play off of, but sadly this is pretty much the only time we see them (I don't even think they had names).
Frank's also a lot more evil than I've seen him in other movies. Blackmail seems in line with his other actions, but he also murders a couple of people, which is a bit much. Still, it's nothing compared to the rape scene, which I found wholly unnecessary and wasn't surprised to learn later (via IMDb) that so did pretty much everyone else, including Cushing and director Terence Fisher. Apparently they had to add it at the last minute to appease a foreign distributor who wanted "more sex", which just makes it all the more icky. And since it was added so late in the game, it's of no consequence whatsoever - the woman's fiance never learns about it, which at least could have added another layer of tension to the events that follow it. Plus, obviously, the victim doesn't act any differently toward Frankenstein later. Some versions do not include it, and it's the rare case where I'd actually suggest seeking the edited version, as it temporarily ruins an otherwise enjoyable film.
I also enjoyed the lightly humorous scenes with the police investigation the thefts from the morgue and such. We are, of course, far ahead of them, so it's a good thing they added humor to them, or otherwise they would just drag the movie down - nothing more boring than watching a cop trying to figure out who might be behind something when we already know the answer. But if they add a few good zingers, it's all worth it; I particularly liked the laconic morgue employee who informs the police that he's not sure when the corpse disappeared because he's not in the habit of checking on them very often ("I don't expect them to get up and walk away...").
The more human and sympathetic monster was a nice surprise as well. By now we've seen enough of a mute hulk wandering around and tossing folks across the room and what not, so I enjoyed the variation. It's actually kind of sad, as he visits his wife, who of course doesn't recognize him as it's his brain in someone else's body. Like that scene in Face Off when Cage visits Travolta's wife. And then he sort of becomes the hero of the movie, taking down our rapist, murderous Frankenstein.
There are two more Frankenstein films in Hammer's series after this, the following year's The Horror of Frankenstein (which didn't have Cushing in the role), and then Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, which does have Cushing and also the dumbest sounding title in the series. That one is also Fisher's final film (this being his second last; he didn't do Horror either), so I hope it's better than the title suggests, for the sake of both men's legacies in the series. But first I'd like to see Revenge Of Frankenstein, the first sequel and the only one I haven't seen up to this point in the franchise. Though then again, maybe I should watch these followups, which don't sound promising, and then go back and finish up my viewing of the series on a high note with Revenge.
What say you?