October Horror Movie Challenge: THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN (1964)


Generally regarded as the lowest tier in Hammer Studios’ Frankenstein cycle (some would say it’s FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL [1974] but I just don’t see that), THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN suffers mostly from a lack of any real creative juices, making the whole film feel like a dry husk compared to its predecessors. Its greatest sin is not exactly a horrible one; all it is truly guilty of is firing up the patented formula of the series once more without adding any of its own sense of flair. Peter Cushing rides again as the ever-reliable Baron, having had his brain transferred to a new meat suit at the conclusion of THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958). This entry finds him returning to the old homestead to take up his diabolical practices by creating life anew in the form of Kiwi Kingston’s lamentably doddering Creature. A co-production with Universal-Internarional, this movie is no more illustrative of its relative apathy then when we see the Creature cast his misshapen eyes up to a beam of sunlight from the laboratory skylight–a sequence that was of divine importance in the 1931 original from the same company–only to essentially give it a shrug and wander off to do something undoubtedly less interesting. The only intriguing addition here is the hypnotist character played by Peter Woodthorpe, a half-drunk carnival impresario who attempts to control the Creature only to find himself, in the best tradition of egotistical villains, way over his head. Freddie Francis, a superb cinematographer and a fine director in his own right, can never quite rally a sense of excitement out of the admittedly lackluster material, so that the requisite cleansing firestorm that wipes out Frankenstein’s machinations feels, like the rest of the film, more like a fizzle.

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