“Halloween Twenty-Fifteen”: A Review of “The Curse of Frankenstein” (1957)

The-Curse-of-Frankenstein-1957-poster

While I suppose this is one of the better Frankenstein remakes made over the years, it took some Scotch before it became even remotely interesting. I really do not see what all the fuss is about. Then again, I was not crazy over the original either. Anyway, The Curse of Frankenstein is an honest if not underplayed redux of the original classic. That’s its main strong point. In a project which has been given credit for single-handedly resurrecting the horror genre in the late fifties, it would have been easy to go over-the-top. Instead, we get something very close to what die-hard fans would have wanted. Peter Cushing is the astute yet mad Dr. Victor Frankenstein, obsessed with creating life out of an assembled mass of body parts. His goal is to create a being of superior intellect and model form. Of course, all he gets is a maniacal murdering monster.

There are some aspects different from the “usual” Frankenstein story. There is no Igor, or any willing sidekick at all. Instead there is Paul Krempe (Richard Urquhart), who is friends with the doctor but feels his ideas are insane and heretical from the start. He reluctantly helps but ends up being his downfall in the end. There are other changes, such as how the monster is destroyed in the end and also a couple of plot twists on the way to the finale. Speaking of the creation, it is performed by Christopher Lee before he became the famous horror icon. All I can say is, I have seen better. He is one of my favorite actors but the appalling makeup just smacks you with a low-budget fist, while the rest of the movie speaks to high production values. His monster is not scary or really threatening in any way, though it probably is a bit more realistic than Boris Karloff’s version. The doctor, meanwhile, is obviously intelligent but is a little bit more desperate and unhinged than the Colin Clive prototype. This is one of those movies that is not bad, but really is only watchable because of its place in horror movie history. Hammer Films’ Cushing-Lee duo is usually a pleasure to watch, but the case here is rather one-sided. Also starring Hazel Court, Paul Hardtmuth, and Melvyn Hayes. Directed by Terence Fisher.

6 out of 10 stars.

More articles in this special “Halloween Twenty-Fifteen” column can be found here

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