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Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

One-time Frankenstein Ralph Bates in Horror of Frankenstein
          In 1970 Hammer released Horror of Frankenstein, directed by Jimmy Sangster and starring Ralph Bates as the Baron. 
In an attempt to meet the demands of a younger audience, Horror of Frankenstein was basically a remake of Curse of Frankenstein, spiced up with black humor and more sex. Bates portrays the Baron as a mixture of charming womanizer and arrogant, cold maniac. He shows no remorse when it comes to killing family members, friends and his lover in order to continue his work and perceives humans only as providers of spare parts for his creature.  

More than the first half of the slow-going film concentrates on Frankenstein's crimes: Before he actually brings his creature to life, Victor murders several people, among them his father, who does not approve of his interest in science and anatomy, and his assistant and friend Wilhelm Kassner, who threatens to report him to the authorities.


When the Monster finally appears, he is a no more than a mindless, blood-thirsty brute misused by Frankenstein to get more people out of his way. The movie ends with the somewhat sudden death of the Monster: a little girl accidentally destroys the creature in an acid tank, that Frankenstein uses to dispose of body parts and murder victims. 

Horror of Frankenstein was not the intended box office hit, probably due to the absence of Cushing, a lack of fresh ideas, and a very slow-going script, but also because Hammer's rather old-fashioned style of horror was no longer what the movie audience of the early 70s wanted to see.

An apt pupil is every professor's delight:
David Prowse as the Monster


This time Frankenstein gets more sex than he can handle:
Kate O'Mara as Alys and...

...Veronica Carlson as Elizabeth

Cast & Crew:  
Victor Frankenstein Ralph Bates
Alys Kate O'Mara
Elizabeth Veronica Carlson
The Monster David Prowse
Lt.Henry Becker Jon Finch
Screenplay Jimmy Sangster
Jeremy Burnham
Music Malcolm Williamson
Cinematography Moray Grant
Producer Jimmy Sangster
Director Jimmy Sangster






Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1974)

After the box-office failure of Horror of Frankenstein Hammer decided to bring back Peter Cushing once more for the final entry in their Frankenstein series, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell. The film also marked the return of director Terence Fisher. Sadly, Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell was Fisher's last film before his death in 1980.


Simon Helder, a young doctor influenced by the works of Victor Frankenstein, is sentenced to an asylum for practising sorcery. There he soon runs into Dr. Carl Victor, who actually is Victor Frankenstein, also a former inmate of the asylum. Officially declared dead, Frankenstein now runs the asylum because he blackmails the corrupt director Klauss. Frankenstein makes Helder his assistant, who soon learns that the Baron has not given up his experiments when he discovers a secret laboratory. His latest creature is the brutish, ape-like Herr Schneider (played by David Prowse, who is best known as Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies), an inmate, whom Frankenstein has kept alive after a suicide attempt and has given the hands of a deceased artist. Sarah, a beautiful mute girl and Helder now assist Frankenstein with his experiments, who can't do surgery any more because of his horribly burnt hands. They manage to transplant the brain of a brilliant mathematician, an inmate whom Frankenstein drove to committing suicide, into the creature. Despite the new brain the Monster behaves increasingly aggressive and several times attempts to kill Frankenstein and Helder. Still, Frankenstein decides to mate the monster with Sarah to produce an unblemished offspring that contains only the "essence of man". In order to prevent Sarah from suffering this horrible fate Helder decides to kill the Monster. He fails and the Monster finally runs berserk in the asylum. After ravaging the graveyard and killing the director, the creature is torn to pieces by the enraged inmates of the asylum.

Older...but wiser ?
An aged Cushing as Baron Frankenstein
         In this final entry in the Hammer Frankenstein series the Baron is back as the cold monomaniac we know from the previous films. He arranges the deaths of inmates, blackmails the director and does not care about the people who work for him. He would not hesitate to give Sarah to the Monster in order to breed a new race of human beings. This is in fact a complete contradiction to Mary Shelley's novel. There Frankenstein is afraid that "a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth who might make the very existence of the species of man a condition precarious and full of terror" (Shelley 1992: 160) and consequently denies his creature a female mate. In Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Frankenstein's cynic attitude shows quite well in his commentary on the death of his creature, "The best thing to happen to him. He was of no use to us or to himself." After that he wastes no time and immediately begins making plans for new experiments.
Frankenstein runs the asylum like a king/god. In this microcosm everyone lives in fear of him. One of the inmates, Herr Muhler, an old man who believes that he is God, is symbolic for Frankenstein's role: When Frankenstein says about Muhler, "He thinks himself to be God. He's not the first man to hold that opinion. And I don't expect he'll be the last.", it seems as if he wants to refer to himself. The Baron already believes himself to stand above God. But in reality, neither is Muhler God nor are Frankenstein's creations as perfect as he would like them to be.

Similar to most Hammer Frankenstein movies, once again it is the Baron's assistant who comes closest to Mary Shelley's conception of Frankenstein as the scientist regretting his experiments. At first Simon Helder is eager to assist Frankenstein. His admiration for the Baron is best expressed in one scene where he proposes a toast to Frankenstein, saying, "To Baron Frankenstein, creator of man!" But later Helder's attitude changes. He begins to criticize Frankenstein when he realizes that the Baron is mad and his experiments have gotten out of control. Shocked by the Baron's plan of mating Sarah with the abominable creature, Helder wants to kill the Monster in order to save Sarah from this horrible fate.

Like many other Hammer films (among them of course Frankenstein Created Woman) Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell contains several hints at the destructive power of sexuality and generally portrays sexuality with negative connotations: The director takes sexual advantage of female inmates; his daughter lives in a catatonic state of shock and is mute because she was raped by her father; and Frankenstein wants her to conceive a child with the Monster, a sexual act which would most probably result in an even more hideous progeny.

"Pop it in!" - Simon Helder (Shane Briant)
and Sarah (Madeline Smith) fix the Monster's eyeball.

          Technically, this is probably the best of Hammer's Frankenstein films. The excellent settings (created by  Scott MacGregor, who replaced long-time set designer Bernard Robinson) and music create an atmospheric picture of Victorian gothic horror - despite a very limited budget. But director Fisher also gives the audience graphic images of blood and gore, e.g. open brain surgery and mutilated bodies. This was most probably a concession to the success of other graphic horror films of that time, e.g. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (USA 1974; dir: Tobe Hooper), The Exorcist (USA 1973; dir: William Friedkin) and Night of the Living Dead (USA 1968; dir: George A. Romero). In fact, the enraged mob tearing Frankenstein's creature to pieces is reminiscent of similar scenes of zombies gutting their victims in George Romero's Night of the Living Dead.
Unfortunately, the movie suffered from distribution problems and turned out to be a box-office flop, that once and for all ended Hammer's Frankenstein series.

          Finally a few remarks on the chronological order of the films in the Hammer series: In my opinion Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell should be set before Frankenstein Must be Destroyed in order to sort out a couple of continuity problems. Firstly, the film gives no explanation of how Frankenstein could have survived the flaming inferno at the end of Frankenstein Must be Destroyed and it is never explained how he ended up in an asylum (which could well be the consequence of what happened in Frankenstein Created Woman). Furthermore, his experiments seem to be at an earlier stage than in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, where the brain transplantation worked out quite well - something Frankenstein does not achieve in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell.

Cast & Crew:  
Victor Frankenstein Peter Cushing
Simon Helder Shane Briant
Sarah Madeline Smith
The Monster David Prowse
Screenplay Anthony Hinds
Music James Bernard
Cinematography Brian Probyn
Producer Roy Skeggs
Director Terence Fisher


Definitely in need of a
close shave: David Prowse
as the Monster

Click above to watch the original trailer in full color on youtube.com

© 2003 Andreas Rohrmoser

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed