Hammer’s Frankenstein movies are some of their best work. The series as a whole is brilliant especially because they focus on the exploits of Dr. Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) and not the monster. Cushing starred in six of the seven Frankenstein movies that Hammer produced. The second last, the 1970 Horror of Frankenstein was actually a more comedic remake of the first film with Ralph Bates as Dr. Frankenstein so I’m going to skip that movie. As for the rest, I’ll discuss them all week starting with the weakest to the best.
The Evil of Frankenstein was the third of Hammer’s Frankenstein movies and the only one co-produced with Universal Studios. As a result they broke continuity and revived the monster (who perished in the first movie). Kiwi Kingston replaces Christopher Lee in the monster make-up which was redesigned to look more like the Universal monster. The result is actually a pretty bad looking monster. The other benefit with the deal with Universal is Dr. Frankenstein’s lab now has some of the more iconic looking machinery.
The Evil of Frankenstein starts with Frankenstein (Cushing) and his assistant Hans (Sandor Elès) getting kicked out of the town where they have been performing their experiments. As a result Frankenstein decides to go home to Karlstadt and his old lab. Frankenstein explains how his first monster was attacked by the villagers but lost in the ice. When they get to Karlstadt they discover that a carnival is in town and there’s a hypnotist named Zoltan (Peter Woodthorpe) working the crowd. Frankenstein ends up getting into a fight with the Burgomaster (David Hutcheson) and chased out of town along with Zoltan.
Frankenstein and Hans then discover the monster frozen in ice and decide to revive him in Frankenstein’s lab which somehow wasn’t destroyed when the townspeople chased him out of town. The monster comes back to life but it’s brain isn’t functioning so Frankenstein turns to Zoltan for help. Zoltan revives the monster but it’s now under his control which he uses to attack and loot everyone who ever wronged the hypnotist. Things start getting out of hand and before long there’s a body count.
Hammer was excited to be working with Universal, their previous Frankenstein films went out their way to not imitate Universal’s but now they could and the results are mixed. Cushing as always is excellent but the monster’s make-up is a mess and the movie doesn’t really fit in after Revenge of Frankenstein which is a superior sequel. The films that follow this pretty much ignore it’s existence. Still it’s a lot of fun and it teaches that valuable lesson that many a horror film has tried to teach. Never trust a hypnotist.