Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Horror Of Frankenstein (1970)

Frankenstein for a new generation. This movie doesn't have any of the elderly Hammer stalwarts (and they're sorely missed) but it does have an energy to it and a lot of positives thanks to a witty script and a great central performance from Ralph Bates. He may be no Cushing but he gives an enjoyable, youthful take on Victor Frankenstein and carries the film through some of its lean patches.

Directed by Jimmy Sangster (who also co-wrote the film with Jeremy Burnham), this movie may upset the purists but it's hard to see how anyone can come to hate it. Yes, it's essentially a rehash of The Curse Of Frankenstein but that's not the worst cinematic crime in the world. Young Victor upsets a number of people, from his father to his lecturers, as he grows from a boy into a man obsessed with the idea of bringing the dead back to life.

The pacing is brisk, the acting is all enjoyable (highlights = Kate O'Mara playing a great, lusty housekeeper, Dennis Price as a professional graverobber and Veronica Carlson as the fragile beauty this time around) and everything still feels lovingly crafted and unrushed, even if it is aiming for a younger audience.

I felt, as many others surely did, that I would miss many of the more seasoned Hammer stars this time but I actually managed to put them aside and enjoy almost every moment of the movie, a testament to just how many things the movie gets right. The one, big, negative point is the monster itself when it finally appears. Dave Prowse just doesn't cut it as the creature and it's in the moments featuring his lacklustre performance that the movie falters.

I'm sure that I'm not going to change the minds of any die-hard fans here but I liked this film a fair bit and think it deserves a bit more praise than it gets. It maintains a balance between nastiness and dark comedy from the first scene right up to the wonderful punchline just before the end credits roll and, personally, I think it's a much better way to push the character to modern audiences than the approach that was attempted with Dracula A.D. 1972.

Of course, I may be completely wrong (it wouldn't be the first time). Give it a look and see what you think. If you enjoy it then I can put on my smug face for a day, if you hate it then I can go back to hiding behind the false beard and dark glasses.


Yet another movie available in this bargain boxset -


  1. I really loved this movie when I first saw. I fear it is one of those movies that won't live up to my memory of it though.

  2. You may be pleasantly surprised. I think it holds up brilliantly.