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The Curse of Frankenstein was Hammers first colour film and the film that launched their Frankenstein series it also led to remakes of other horror classics including Horror of Dracula and the Mummy. The film is also notable in that effectively launched the careers of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing its two stars. It was the second film they both appeared in with both actors having appeared in Lawrence Oliviers production of Hamlet years before, though neither shared any scenes together. The Curse of Frankenstein is credited along with the Horror of Dracula for reinventing the horror genre.





SynopsisEdit

The film starts with Baron Victor Von Frankenstein [Peter Cushing] in a prison awaiting execution for murder. He tells the story of his life to a priest. Through flashback we see that after succedding his fathers estate at a young age he is mentored by a man named Paul Krempe whom he develops a close friendship with. Years later after collaborating on many scientific experiments together the two successfully bring a dead puppy back to life. Frankenstein suggests they must now create a life from scrath, however after Frankenstein suggests they use human body parts for the experiment Paul Krempe withdraws.

Victor eventually does create his own creature utilizing a corpse found swinging on a gallows, and hands and eyes purchased from Charnel house workers. Next he seeks the brain of a distinguished professor. Inviting the lonely old professor round to his house fro a quiet dinner, Victor later murders him by pushing him over the edge of his balcony and makes it look like an accident. Having the professor buried in the Frankenstein family vault, he later digs his body up and removes his brain. While Victor is removing the professors brain Paul Krempe arrives. Having suspected Victor had a role in the Professors death, he attempts to stop him from using his brain and in the ensuing scuffle the brain is badly damaged. The result is that the creature that Victor creates is homicidal possessing none of the professors intelligence. It immedietly tries to kill its creator and nearly does until Paul arrives and is able to subdue the monster. Victor promises to destroy the creature once he has unvieled it to the scientific community, he also blames Paul for damaging the brain of the professor. The Creature later escapes from Victors lab and makes its way into the countryside where it brutally murders a blind old man and a young boy. Paul and Victor eventually track it down where Paul shoots the beast in the eye killing it, they both bury it and Victor tells Paul that he will never forgive him for what he has done. Victor however later digs the creature up and reanimates it. He later uses it to murder his maid Justine. Victor had been having an affair with Justine, having impregnated her she demands he marry her but Victor refuses and she threatens to go the authorities and inform them of his experiments. Later when she looks around his laboratory for proof Victor locks her in their with the creature which kills her. The next day he reveals the resurrected creature to Paul. After Victor tells him that if he can't fix this brain then he will get "another and another" Paul finally snaps and decides to go to the authorities, Victor then threatens the life of his own fiance Elizabeth, whom Paul cares deeply for if he does and Paul attacks Victor. Whilst they are fighting the Creature breaks free and attacks Elizabeth, Victor then rushes to the roof top where they are and shoots at the creature. However he misses and it corners him but he eventually kills it by throwing a candle at it which causes its whole body to go up in flames it then falls through a window into a vat of acid below where it is completely disintegrated. The film then cuts back to Victor in his cell with the priest. Due to the creature having been disintegrated there is no evidence he existed and the authorities believe it was Victor who murdered Justine, the blind man and the boy. Victor calls Paul in to support his story that it was the creature who murdered those people but Paul, wanting to see Victor pay pretends he does not know what Victor is talking about making him appear guilty. Victor is then taken away to be executed, with the last shot being of the guillotine rising up to behead him.

CastEdit

  • Peter Cushing as Baron Frankinstein
  • Christopher Lee as the Creature
  • Hazel Court as Elizabeth
  • Robert Urquhart as Paul Krempe
  • Valerie Gaunt as Justine
  • Noel Hood as Aunt Sophia
  • Melvyn Hayes as Young Victor
  • Paul Hardtmuth as Professor Burnstein
  • Fred Johnson as Grandpa

ProductionEdit

Peter Cushing who was then better known as a televison star in Britain was specifically sought out by Hammer for this film. Christopher Lee's casting however resulted largely from his height (6"4"). Hammer originally considered casting the even taller Bernard Bresslaw (6"7") for the role. Universal fought hard to prevent Hammer from duplicating aspects of their 1931 film so it was down to make up artist Phil Leakey to design a new look creature bearing no resembelance to the Boris Karloff original created by Jack Pearce. Production of The Curse of Frankenstein began with an investment of £65,000, on 19 November 1956 at Bray Studios with a scene showing Baron Frankenstien cutting down a highwayman from a wayside gibbet. The film opened at London Pavilion on May 2, 1957with an X certificate from the censors.

ReceptionEdit

The film recieved harsh reviews from critics. Dilys Powell of the Sunday Times wrote that such productions left her unable to "defend the cinema against the charge that it debases", while the tribune opined that the film was "depressing and degrading to anyone who loves cinema" The film However was a huge success at the box office all over the world and is now regarded as a classic, with both Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton having cited it as an influence on their work.

Notes and TriviaEdit

First of five films produced by Hammer that featured Peter Cushing as the scientist and Christopher Lee as the Monster. Hammer would make three Dracula films with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing and Christopher Lee as Dracula, as well as the Mummy which featured Christopher Lee as the Mummy and Peter Cushing as John Banning.

First British horror film to be made in colour.

First and only time Christopher Lee plays the Frankenstien creature though he would go on to play a Frankenstein like robot and the professor who created him called Frank N'stone in an episode of the Avengers "Never Say Never Die"

First time Peter Cushing plays Baron Frankenstein

This film unlike the original 1931 classic universal film focused on the Baron rather than the monster as would the rest of the series.

In this film the Baron kills three people. The professor whose brain he uses in his experiment, Justine the maid and jis own Creature. Though the next few entries in the series will see him become more sympathetic, the last few films in the series such as Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed will see him become even more murderous.

Shares many of the same actors Peter Cushing Christopher Lee and Valerie Gaunt as well as many of the same crew such as Terence Fisher director and Jimmy Sangster writer as The Horror of Dracula.

Baron Frankensteins hatred of women which will later become an important plot point in Frankenstein must be destroyed is shown in this film. He uses and takes great delight in hurting Justine both physically and mentally, and later locks her in the room with his murderous creature. He is also shown to neglect and mistreat Elizabeth even threatining to hurt her to Paul.

Remade as The Horror Frankenstein starring Ralph Bates as Baron Frankenstein and Dave Prowse as the Creature.