The Curse of Frankenstein
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The movie opens with text over a red background that reads, "More than a hundred years ago, in a mountain village in Switzerland, lived a man whose strange experiments with the dead have since become legend. The legend is still told with horror the world over...It is the legend of..." A clever segway into the title: The Curse of Frankenstein. Credits follow.

A man on horseback approaches a prison in the mountains along a narrow pathway. A church bell chimes the hour as a man opens the gate for the rider. He is a priest (Alex Gallier). He is escorted by the Warder (Michael Mulcaster) to see Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing). The warder explains that the prisoner is dangerous. The Baron wishes to see the priest because he thinks he can trust the man with his story. He starts his story, "I suppose it was when I was a boy at school. I always had a brilliant intellect. When my mother died, I inherited the Frankenstein fortune."

The Young Baron (Melvyn Hayes) is escorting his extended family out of his house after his mother died. His uncle (Raymond Ray) leads the family delegation. Aunt Sophie (Noel Hood) and her daughter, young Elizabeth (Sally Walsh) stay behind. Aunt Sophie wants reassurance her allowance will continue uninterrupted. After confirming the money will continue, Victor quickly escorts the two relatives out the door. As they are leaving, a dapper gentleman in a brown top hat arrives. Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart) walks into the house and presents himself to the new, but very young, Baron. He had corresponded with the Baron for a tutor. Initially he thinks there must be some mistake or a joke, but Victor explains the tutoring is for himself and he is serious. The two hit it off immediately. After two years, "I learned all he had to teach, but we went on together probing into the unknown, investigating, recording, searching, always searching until gradually the sweep of our research began to assume a single direction and to this aim we finally turned all our energies. It took us years of unrelenting work to discover what we were seeking." With chemical and electrical apparatus they were able to restore life to a dead puppy. Paul sees the possibilities of their discovery. He notes, "If we could delay or prolong the period in which the body is apparently dead while the heart is alive wed have a living body with only the barest life-spark present. That what that would mean when it came to performing major surgery!" Paul wants to write up their findings and present it at a medical conference within a month. Victor expresses his opposition because he wants to experiment further and does not want to share the secret, not yet at least. He proposes the next step. Rather than just restore life, he wants to create life from the beginning. He tells Paul, "We must build up our own creature, and built it up from nothing. We must create a human beinga perfect human." Paul disagrees, "What you're saying is nonsense, a revolt against nature. Such a thing could only end in evil." Victor persuades Paul to continue the work. He proposes to obtain a body, and knows a highwayman was hanged for his crimes and suggests they retrieve it. They take a horse and cart and cut down the body and return it to their lab. Paul notes that half the head has been eaten away. Victor quickly cuts the head off, explaining it is of no use. He dumps it into a vat of acid in the storage room next door. They remove the old clothes, wrap the body in bandages and place it in a large, glass tank. Now Paul voices his objection to the whole exercise, "I don't think we should continue with this." Victor tells Paul he will be leaving for a while but does not explain where or why.

Justine the maid (Valerie Gaunt) carries refreshments into the living room and asks Paul if the Baron has returned. She answers the door, expecting that Victor has returned. To her disappointment it is not the Baron but a woman who tells her she was expected and needs help with her luggage. Elizabeth (Hazel Court) is the Baron's cousin and we learn later his fiance. She mistakes Paul for the Baron. Victor arrives home in an excited state calling for Paul. He is not surprised to see Elizabeth. He and Paul rush off to the lab upstairs leaving Elizabeth annoyed and confused.

Victor unwraps something from a small black bag. He proudly displays two hands, cut off at the wrist. He explains they are Bardello's hands--the hands of the world's greatest sculptor. Paul voices his objection to exposing Elizabeth to the experiment. He tells Victor, "While you were away, I decided I could not continue with this experiment." He tries to convince Victor to stop, but he is unsuccessful. Victor remains in the lab and will graft the new hands on by himself. Paul goes downstairs and tries to convince Elizabeth to leave. In this he is also unsuccessful, mainly because he will not explain the nature of the experiment or the danger. She explains she is to be Victor's wife.

Outside the lab, Victor and Justine embrace and kiss. Victor is just toying with the maid. She believes she will be his wife, but Victor tells her that Elizabeth is to be his wife. The next morning Victor prepares to leave on another trip. Elizabeth talks to him about the household accounts and possibly assisting in other ways. Victor pays a visit to the Municipal Charnel House and buys a pair of human eyes. Victor takes them home to examine them when Paul asks to see him. He reiterates his refusal to help Victor with his work. Victor proudly shows Paul how far he has gone on his own. Paul turns away from the tank with revulsion and exclaims, "It's horrible!" Victor tells Paul that once a genius brain is obtained and installed the creature will take on a benevolent face. When asked where the brain will come from, Victor replies, "I'll get it."

Victor and Elizabeth are in the living room entertaining a visitor. Professor Bernstein (Paul Hardtmuth) accepted an invitation from the Baron for dinner and to spend the night. The professor tells Victor that discoveries can be mishandled. Paul enters the room and is introduced to the distinguished professor. Victor escorts the old man upstairs to his room. At the top of the stairs Victor shows him a painting, maneuvering the old man closer to the bannister, which gives way. Victor pushes the old man through and down to his death. Professor Bernstein is given a burial at the Baron's expense and in his family vault. Later that evening the Baron retrieves Bernstein's brain. He carefully places the jar in his bag and prepares to leave the vault. Paul arrives, expecting to find Victor and accuses him of murder. Paul intends to stop Victor from using the brain, and tells him so. They briefly struggle over the bag and the jar is broken.

Paul calls on Elizabeth in her room and again begs her to leave. He explains he only stays to ensure her safety. In the lab, Victor is picking pieces of glass out of the brain, trying to salvage it. He puts the brain into the skull and prepares to revive his newly finished creature. He starts the chemical and electrical equipment as an electrical storm brews outside. Paul is upstairs in his room preparing for bed. As the tank empties, Victor goes to Paul's room and again asks for help. He admits, "That apparatus was constructed for dual operation. You know that. I thought I could work it myself, but I can't." But Paul gleefully replies, "I'm delighted." A lightning bolt starts the electrical components and the body in the empty tank begins to breathe. Victor promises that after the experiment is completed he will dispose of the body. Paul reluctantly agrees to help. Victor returns to the lab and hears glass breaking. He unlocks the lab door and standing there is the creature. It pulls away the bandages covering its head to reveal a scarred and hideous face (Christopher Lee). One eye is blue, the other brown, and it stares at its creator with hate. It grabs Victor and chokes him. Only Paul's quick action saves Victor. He breaks a chair over the thing's head. The creature stumbles and falls to the floor. Paul demands the creature be destroyed as Victor straps it down to a table. Victor tells Paul he will operate on the brain the next morning and try to correct its homicidal tendencies. But the next morning the lab is a shambles and the window broken. The creature has broken free and escaped.

Victor and Paul search the countryside for the creature. An old blind man (Fred Johnson) and his grandson (Claude Kingston) are out in the woods for a stroll. The old man sits and the grandson goes down to the lake shore to pick mushrooms. The creature encounters the old man. After a brief exchange he kills the old man. The grandson returns to where he left his grandfather. Victor and Paul find signs and follow it into the woods. They find it, and Paul shoots the creature through the eye. The creature falls and is pronounced dead. They bury it in place and return to the house.

Paul goes to the lab and tells Victor he is leaving. With the creature dead, he no longer needs to stay and protect Elizabeth. But Paul doesn't know Victor dug his creation up and returned its lifeless body back to the lab. Victor stares at his creature hanging in the store room and promises, "I'll give you life again." Victor is dressed and tells Justine she can serve dinner. Justine reminds Victor of his promise to marry her. Her trump card is the revelation she is pregnant with his child. He does not believe he is the father, but Justine informs the master that Elizabeth will believe her. She adds that she will go to the authorities regarding the experiment. He fires the maid and orders that she leave the next morning. That night Justine goes up to the lab to get the proof she will need for the authorities. Victor leaves the lab door unlocked and Justine enters for a look. She enters the storage room and finds the revived creature. When she tries to flee, Victor locks her in, knowing his homicidal creation will kill her. It does.

A week later, Victor and Elizabeth are having breakfast. Elizabeth inquires about Justine. Victor lies and tells her, "I expect some village lothario eloped with her." They discuss the wedding plans. Elizabeth reveals she invited Paul. Instead of being angry, Victor casually informs her he hopes Paul comes. He says that he has something to show Paul.

It is the eve of the wedding, and a reception at the Baron's home is underway. The Burgomaster (Andrew Leigh) is enjoying the laced punch and practicing his speech. His wife (Ann Blake) reproaches her drunk husband and they leave for home. When all the guests have left, Victor announces he will be working in the lab. Elizabeth is disappointed and tells her future husband. Paul does not attend the reception, but does come later that evening. Elizabeth tells Paul to go surprise Victor. Victor is preparing a plate of flood when Paul knocks on the lab door. Victor invites his old tutor into the lab. He leads him to the storage room. Paul is shocked to discover the creature chained to the wall and showing signs of brain surgery. Victor orders the creature onto its feet. It struggles but stands, then sits when ordered. Paul chides the Baron about the creature's lack of perfection, but Victor reminds Paul, "There you see the result of your handiwork as much as mine...but you damaged it. You put a bullet in the wretched thing. This is your fault, Paul." Paul exits the lab, promising to go to the authorities and have them destroy the creature. Victor chases after him. He leaves the lab door unlocked and Elizabeth enters the lab. The creature breaks its chains. Elizabeth enters the storage room and sees the vat of acid. The creature gets out onto the roof. Victor and Paul see it and Paul goes to the village for help. Elizabeth goes outside to explore a noise she heard. Victor grabs a pistol and goes out to the roof. Firing at the creature he hits Elizabeth, then the creature. Only wounded, the creature approaches Victor. A well-aimed toss of an oil lamp sets the creature ablaze. The creature falls through the skylight and straight into the acid filled vat below.

We return to the prison, and the priest still listening to the story now finished. Victor concludes, "My life's work destroyed. Destroyed in a moment. And by the same hand that gave it life." Paul comes to visit Victor at the prison. Elizabeth was only wounded and recovers. She is also at the prison, but stays in the waiting area. Victor begs Paul to tell the priest about the creature and to verify the story, but Paul denies it. He does accuse Victor of murdering Justine. Victor claims it was the creature who murdered the maid. The priest leaves the cell. Victor tries to kill Paul, but the jailer prevents it. Paul leaves the cell and returns to talk to Elizabeth. He takes her home. Victor is led to his execution. The last scene is of a guillotine, seen in silhouette, and the credits roll.


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