The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)

evilfrankA curio even for Hammer fans; in many ways this doesn’t even have the feel of a ‘proper’ Hammer horror film. The third film in the Hammer Frankenstein series, The Evil of Frankenstein again features the wonderful Peter Cushing as the evil scientist, but other than that the film seems to drop any link to the Frankenstein films prior or after. The curious thing is that,  at odds somewhat even with the films title, the scientist here isn’t as evil as he was in the prior films.  Indeed, he is even rather comically set up as the victim- as if mutilating cadavers and experimenting on resurrecting the dead was something normal, he bemoans the people chasing him, something of a running gag through the film. “Why won’t they ever leave me alone?” he mutters, as if utterly ignorant of his wrong doing. He complains of being persecuted a number of times, evidently thinking he’s the victim.  Yep, he’s crazy, at least the film seems to get that right.

The ‘villain’ of the piece turns out to be a hypnotist in a travelling Fair visiting the village, the aptly named Zoltan (sharing the moniker of a rather evil Hound, I believe). Frankenstein enlists Zoltan’s skills  in order to repair his monsters injured brain, but doesn’t realise the hypnotist is then sending the creature on a crime spree in the village, robbing the church gold and killing the authorities that he feels wronged him.

Something of a reboot (aha, there’s that horrible word again, even back in the ‘sixties) , I believe partly due to this film being co-financed by Universal Pictures, it  resulted in various nods to the 1930s Universal Horror originals, such as the design of the laboratory and the monster itself, which now has a passing familiarity with the Karloff original. All of this sadly means that the final film is more of a Universal/Hammer hybrid than a genuine Hammer film. So it doesn’t have the proper Hammer flavours and gothic sensibilities I would prefer. It has its moments and its always fun to spot cast members from other Hammer productions, and indeed Cushing is worth watching whatever tosh he is in, but nonetheless its one of the weakest Hammer films released on Blu-ray so far. Hammer fans will no doubt relish the opportunity to have the film in HD and the extras, sparse as they are, are rewarding as ever, but some modern viewers will perhaps wonder what the fuss about Hammer is all about on the evidence of this effort.

 

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