Thursday, December 20, 2012

#857. The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)

Directed By: Terence Fisher

Starring: Peter Cushing, Francis Matthews, Eunice Gayson

Tag line: "New And Greatest Frankenstein Monsterpiece!!"

Trivia: This movie marked actor Michael Ripper's first appearance in a Hammer Horror film

Following the success of Hammer’s 1957 film, The Curse of Frankenstein, the studio would, over the course of the next 16 years, produce half a dozen sequels to the movie, the first of which was 1958’s The Revenge of Frankenstein. And though some of the subsequent pictures would fall short of the mark, The Revenge of Frankenstein is pretty darn entertaining.

Picking up where Curse left off, we join Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) on his way to the guillotine, ready to face the ultimate punishment for his crimes. But with the help of his deformed assistant, Karl (Oscar Quitak), the Baron manages to elude death and flee to the small town of Carlsbruck, where, living under the assumed name of “Dr. Stein”, he sets himself up as a first-class surgeon. After three years, Frankenstein has built quite a practice for himself, seeing to the needs of his upper-class clientele during the day while spending his nights tending to the poor and destitute, at a hospital he himself founded (which, as it turns out, is where he obtains the body parts required to continue his reanimation experiments). Assisted by an eager young doctor named Hans (Francis Matthews), Frankenstein also attempts to transplant Karl’s brain into a brand new “person” he’s created from scratch (Michael Gwynn). Unfortunately, the procedure doesn’t go according to plan, leaving Frankenstein to deal with yet another messy situation.

After delivering a stellar performance in The Curse of Frankenstein, Cushing once again shines in Revenge, only this time out we get to see two distinct sides of Baron Frankenstein’s complex personality. Having established himself in Carlsbruck, “Dr. Stein” proves an able physician who takes a keen interest in the well-being of his patients. He even uses the money he earns from his practice to set up a hospital for the needy and downtrodden. Of course, this facility is nothing more than a front, a place where he can harvest body parts for his research, sometimes going so far as to amputate a perfectly healthy limb just so he can use it for his newest “creation”.

In Curse, Baron Frankenstein came across as an arrogant genius whose sole purpose was to bring his ghastly experiment to life. Revenge allows us, albeit briefly, to see the Baron in a different light, namely a skilled doctor who has fallen, quite tragically, under the spell of his own ambitious goals.

1 comment:

tjpieraccini said...

This is a comparatively low-key Hammer film (and the 'creature' is decidedly un-monstrous), but it's nicely done and often overlooked.