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Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)


This time Baron Frankenstein is concerned with preserving the souls of recently deceased in a force-field in order to transfer them into other bodies later. The film begins with Victor Frankenstein getting involved in a dangerous self experiment. After lying dead for one hour he is revived again by his youthful assistant Hans and the elderly, somewhat cranky Dr. Hertz. Hans is sent to an inn to buy champagne to celebrate the successful experiment. There he starts a fight with three young men who make fun of his girl friend Christina, the facially disfigured daughter of the innkeeper. While Christina and Hans spend the night together, the three revengeful men break into the inn and beat Christina's father to death. The next day Hans is arrested for killing the innkeeper. In the following trial he is wrongly sentenced to death because he refuses to tell anybody that he was with Christina in that fatal night. Christina returns to town just in time to witness Hans' execution; having nothing left to live for, she drowns herself. Frankenstein, who manages to get hold of both Hans' and Christina's bodies, captures the young man's soul and transplants it into the girl's body. He then surgically removes her facial disfigurement and reanimates her. Christina, whose mind is slowly taken over by Hans' spirit, begins to remember her past and sets out to avenge Hans' death. One after one she seeks out her father's murderers, seduces them and kills them. In the final scene Christina holds up Hans' head, which she has taken from the grave, and addresses it speaking in Hans' voice, "You did what you had to do, Christina. You may rest now - in peace." Consequently, Christina drowns herself in a river and dies a second time. Baron Frankenstein, unable to stop her, simply walks away.

Original movie poster for Frankenstein Created Woman

          Directed by Terence Fisher, this film marked a return to Hammer's original concept of Baron Frankenstein. Once again the Baron is the inhumane, cold and emotionless scientist whose sole obsession is his work and his experiments. Testifying before the court is obviously a nuisance to the Baron, and he makes no attempt to save his young assistant. To him Hans' death is a unique opportunity to continue his experiments. Frankenstein does not care whether Hans would like his soul to be kept alive or not. He also forces Dr. Hertz to blackmail the jail-keeper in order to get Hans' body and treats his creation Christina more like his possession than a human being. Of course, the movie focuses more on Christina than on Cushing's Baron, leaving him more like an observer who does not really comprehend what is happening to his creature. However, the film frequently also shows us a different, more sympathetic Baron, in particular when he desperately tries to prevent Christina from taking her own life at the movie's climax. But this new-found humane streak in the Baron is only short-lived, when he leaves the scene of Christina's death, probably to continue his experiments.

Dr. Hertz (Thorley Walters) and the Baron (Peter Cushing)


Baron Frankenstein at work in his laboratory
          Christina's role is not only that of the Monster - in fact she is more beautiful after the reanimation and due to her disfigured face she looked more like a Monster before her death. The audience also can build more sympathy for Christina than for Frankenstein's previous creations, not just because she looks so perfect, but also because of her tragic background. 

The fact that Christina unites both male and female in her soul and body actually makes her a kind of hermaphrodite or androgynous being. When she talks with a male voice to Hans' head and the head answers with a female voice, all separations - sexual, physical and spiritual - are removed and Christina becomes a personal union of two human beings, where it is no longer clear which part is male and which is woman. The consequence can only be suicide.

Christina, who is the only female Monster in Hammer's Frankenstein series, is also his most perfect creation, unlike her brute male counterparts in Hammer's other Frankenstein movies. Still it is interesting to note that she only achieves this female perfection when she is given the soul of a man, while before, although fully female, she was scarred and incomplete, the object of mockery and revulsion.

But Christina also symbolises the destructive power of sexuality, a typical feature of the horror genre. In order to get hold of her victims Christina uses her sexual attractiveness (she was played by Austrian Playboy playmate Susan Denberg) to seduce them. This implies that these men would still be alive had they not given in to their sexual urges, a motif which is continued in modern "slasher films" like Halloween or Friday the 13th, where teenagers are usually killed off after having sex. Typically, the Monster/killer becomes the punisher of those who transgress the borders of bourgeois morale. The three dandies are the movie's true villains - they killed the innkeeper and framed Hans for his death - and their ultimate sin is to give in to their sexual urges, a weakness that finally costs them their lives.

The Monster (Susan Denberg) at work outdoors...


She'd rather take head than give it...
Frankenstein Created Woman remains to be the favorite Hammer Frankenstein among film critics, primarily because of its almost metaphysical approach and its concern with topics such as the existence of the soul and gender switch. In 1987 director Martin Scorsese picked it as part of a series of his favorite films shown at the NFT. A long-time Hammer fan, Scorsese stated, "If I single this one out it's because here they actually isolate the soul. The implied metaphysics are close to something sublime." 2
 Frankenstein Created Woman is a moody example of gothic horror with excellent set pieces, great performances, especially from Cushing and Playboy model Susan Denberg, (who sadly made no more films after this one), and a beautifully crafted, thought-provoking script.


Two sexy, yet misleading publicity shots that actually have nothing to do with the movie but drew a lot of attention, obviously due to the bikini-clad Susan Denberg.
The motif was also used for the Italian movie poster.




Cast & Crew:  
Victor Frankenstein Peter Cushing
Christina Susan Denberg
Hans Robert Morris
Hertz Thorley Walters
Screenplay Anthony Hinds
Music James Bernard
Cinematography Arthur Grant
Producer Anthony Nelson Keys
Director Terence Fisher


1 cf. Stresau, Norbert, Der Horrorfilm (Munich: Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, 1987) p.134
Cf. M. Hearn & A. Barnes, The Hammer Story, (London: Titan Books, 1997) p.111

© 2003 Andreas Rohrmoser

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