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This was the first Hammer film I ever saw, and I loved it back then on
television while growing up. I'm sure the reason was because it was so
much in tune with the old Universal monster films I loved, and at that
time I hadn't seen any of the other British Frankensteins so I couldn't
have been aware that EVIL wasn't really a true "Hammer" film. Well,
sometimes ignorance is bliss, I think. Because ever since I caught up
with all the other Peter Cushing Frankensteins, I gradually became
clued in as to why so many diehards shunned EVIL. But that's a shame,
really, as THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN is a fine horror film in its own
right and one of the more underrated monster films in fandom. Last
night I had a friend at the house who's a Universal Fan, and he wanted
to see his first Hammer Frankenstein film. So, what better choice than
EVIL? But here's the thing with movies -- sometimes it all depends on
your mood and the situation surrounding you when you watch them. The
last time I had watched this movie, it didn't do as much for me; but
now - while taking it for what it is and enjoying it with a fellow
Universal fan - the film really delivered!
Peter Cushing is still great in EVIL. Sure, he's not playing the character exactly the same as in the other films, but it's refreshing to see him more heroic than usual, and it's not as though he's a total saint either (he does take a freshly dead man and cut out his heart, for crying out loud). There are small moments of indifference, too - such as when the mute peasant girl offers bread to Cushing and his assistant, Hans -- while Hans takes the trouble of saying, "thank you... but have you enough for yourself?" Baron Frankenstein takes his half without a word of gratitude and instead merely mutters to Hans, "she can't hear you".
Terence Fisher is a good director, but I think Freddie Francis does a fantastic job too on THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN (and, later, on Dracula HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE). The laboratory is the best of all the films, and there are many neat cinematic touches -- like the grim shadowplay when the creature is stalking around town, and the monster's POV shot as he is first being raised up from his slab. The music is striking too, on par with just about any other Hammer classic. It accentuates the events of the movie very well. Kiwi Kingston makes a formidable hulking monster, and there are times when I even pitied him (it's rough to see him getting those migraines and to be abused by that hypnotist).
The only things weak about EVIL for me are some of the moments where we are at the fair, though once Peter Cushing crashes the Burgomaster's home to claim his property ("Be quiet, woman!!" - I love that! - ) we're back into high gear. Another debit for the movie is that its script seems a little perfunctory at times. In summary -- taken on its own without carping on what this isn't and enjoying it for what riches are to be found within it, THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN can be a fun and satisfying experience as a stand-alone Frankenstein Film. *** out of ****
MORD39 RATING: **1/2 out of ****
This was the first Hammer film I recall seeing as a kid, and I loved it back then. I am, admittedly, a Universal Horror addict and most probably enjoyed it because it was so much in that vein.
Now, decades later, I understand why Hammer fans dislike it: it's not what the Hammer Frankenstein series is supposed to be. Now that I've become well acquainted with all of the Hammer films I am inclined to agree somewhat...but it's still pretty good.
Peter Cushing is his reliable self as the Baron, and he seems to be given a more heroic twist this time around. The monster is not up to par, and it IS copied from the Karloffian image to some extent, but he's fun anyway.
The lab sets are fantastic, as is the music and gothic atmosphere. You can do much worse than this for a Hammer Frankenstein film (check out HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN and see).
Having been exiled from Karlstaad, and with their creature gunned down
on a mountaintop, The Evil Of Frankenstein opens with a now skint Baron
(Cushing) and his apprentice Hans (Elès) moping around the forests like
a Gothic Steptoe and Son, half-heartedly yanking the odd corpse out of
huts, before being sent packing by another set of disgusted locals. The
Baron has no choice but to creep back into town and retrieve his
equipment to flog it off. To add insult, Castle Frankenstein has been
looted and defaced with noosed effigies. "Why can't they leave me
alone?" sighs Victor. It's all a bit much.
To cheer themselves up, the pair attend a travelling carnival disguised in facemasks like Batman and Robin. Victor spots a familiar face in the crowd: "Well, well, well, my old friend the Burgomaster. Now he's chief of police. Easy to see how he got his promotion!" And he's wearing the Baron's ring. Not only that, he's now in possession of Victor's clothes, his chairs, his desk - "Even my bed!" Frankly, the pair need a positive: as luck has it, a deaf and dumb Björk look-alike leads them to a cave, where they discover the perfectly preserved body of the creature in a glacier.
Like Vernon Kay, "he's alive, but his brain is dormant," the result of being shot in the head in the previous film. The Baron hires the carnival's dodgy mesmerist Zoltán (Woodthorpe) to try to bring it out of its coma. Like some faithless pet cat who decides it's getting tastier treats from the old lady next door, the creature ignores the Baron, and will now only take orders from Zoltán. However, the bequiffed ageing wideboy has his own plans for the screeching lunk. "There are people in this village I want punished," he huffs. Not being up to speed with the finer points of semantics, the monster stomps off in its corrective boots to rip the Burgomaster a new one. Job done, it returns home, gets drunk, screeches a bit more, and goes for a lie down. Yet despite giving him life, the monster in no way considers the Baron his besht fuggin' mate. Then, as if suddenly collapsing under the weight of its own misery, the film ends very abruptly.
Directed by cameraman Freddie Francis, after Hammer's Terence Fisher bailed out following a car accident, The Evil Of Frankenstein is generally regarded by horror buffs to be the series' nadir, in part owing to the monster's laughable visage, which resembles a man wearing a rotting box of cornflakes on his head. (Ironic, given that this incarnation's appearance was made possible by the film's distributor Universal relaxing their copyright on Jack Pierce's flat-headed design for Boris Karloff.) But mostly, because it treats the continuity laid down by the previous movie with the same kind of respect the Baron has for dead people.
In The Revenge Of Frankenstein, the Baron had succeeded in creating a reasonably human-looking monster, before it was shot; was himself beaten to death by an angry mob for his groundbreaking contribution to genetics; and was then privately resurrected by his apprentice Hans. Here, there's no mention of the Baron's life-and-death experience; the creature (the delightfully named Kiwi Kingston) looks nothing like its forebear; and Hans appears to have downsized his IQ in the interim. The locals have also apparently forgotten they've actually killed him and instead merely run him out of Karlstaad on a rail. It's the Sliding Doors of horror threequels.
Despite this wild shift in text and focus (a consequence of Hammer producer Tony Hinds replacing the usual Frankenstein writer Jimmy Sangster), The Evil Of Frankenstein is quite fun in its doggedly depressing way, and for a film made in 1964, surprisingly modern; this is practically a punk movie, with its nihilistic tone, a monster that elicits not the slightest shred of sympathy, and tombstone humour at odds with the melodramatic origins. "Cut out his heart?" gasps the Baron's hired grave robber. "Why not?" comes the reply. "He has no further use for it." For a relatively bloodless series, the violence (check out the scene where the foul creature attacks and kills the Burgomaster in his own bedroom) is certainly more than you'd expect from this era of Hammer, and indeed certain scenes were replaced or re-shot for its 1968 television showing. And as you'd imagine, with the award-winning Freddie Francis directing proceedings, the cinematography is first rate. Really, it's a one-off, standing quite apart from the cycle, and none the worse for it.
If you ask me, Hammer's Frankenstein series is vastly superior to the
Dracula series; and films like this one show why! Actually, Evil of
Frankenstein is probably the weakest entry of the great series; but
even on a bad day, Hammer can produce the goods, and this film
certainly does everything that you would expect a Hammer Frankenstein
flick to do. This is something of an odd entry in Hammer's Frankenstein
series, however, as the character of Frankenstein (ironically) is far
less evil than in previous and later films. The scene in which the
monster is let loose and Frankenstein worriedly exclaims that the
village is under threat says it all. This contradiction does bring the
film down somewhat, but it doesn't harm it as much as it could have
done because the distinct Hammer style is always on hand to save the
day. The plot picks up after the events of The Revenge of Frankenstein,
and we follow the wicked Baron as he makes his way back to his family
castle. He soon finds one of his previous creatures perfectly preserved
in ice, but there's a problem with the brain and Frankenstein has to
recruit stage hypnotist Zoltan to bring him round. However, Zoltan has
his own ideas about the creature's future...
The Hammer Frankenstein movies, especially the earlier ones, tend to follow something of a set plot; i.e. Frankenstein builds a monster, then the monster destroys everything. This film follows that plot, but as ever; enough is added to ensure that the action is never monotonous. Peter Cushing reprises his role as the title character brilliantly once again. As far as I'm concerned, there's only one Baron Frankenstein - and that's Peter Cushing. Nobody has ever - or will ever again - be able to bring what this great actor brings to the role. I'm sure that this part would be his favourite too, as it's always obvious that he enjoys playing the Baron. His persona lends itself brilliantly to this role, and that is much of the reason why the series is so successful. The monster on display this time is the most disgusting of the entire series. The make-up is repulsive and the creature really does look like it's been encased in ice for years. It is worth noting, however, that the creature in this film is the closest to the classic Frankenstein's Monster of James Whale's Frankenstein films. Overall, this film might not do much for you if you aren't a fan of Hammer/the Frankenstein series - but if you are...you know you should be seeing this film!
This film appeared from no-where. It did not follow from The Revenge of Frankenstein, which had immediately preceded it, and the next film in the series, Frankenstein Created Woman, makes no mention of this film. This is a one-off film in the Hammer Frankenstein saga much in the same way that Scars of dracula is a one-off in the Dracula saga. For once, the story is rather flimsy, and the characters fail to build any pathos with the audience. The acting is good, but has no-where to go. It seems to be a remake of any number of Universal horror films rather than an original Hammer film. The direction is rather flat and the monster is just some monolithic doomsday machine running around, destroying everything. On the plus side, the atmosphere is suitably gothic and the costumes are realistic. It is, however, the least best Frankenstein film featuring peter Cushing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Like many other viewers, I first saw this movie on television when I
was a kid, and have always liked it. It holds up well to repeated
viewings, and is filled with references to the older Universal
Frankenstein movies of the Thirties and Forties.
The storyline is quite simple and the characters not terribly complicated. This seems to bother some viewers, who miss the irony and complexity of other Peter Cushing Frankenstein portrayals, and the odd, offbeat plotting of the Terence Fisher directed films in the series. But the film operates perfectly at the simpler level of an adventure story, rather than a really grim horror tale. The frequently humorous tone, and a hint of romance for Frankenstein's assistant and the mute girl, lighten the overall feeling, with Frankenstein himself appearing as an essentially benign character. I find it a nice change to see Baron Frankenstein as a well intended, kindly character, instead of the ruthless egomaniac usually portrayed. Cushing makes the Baron an appealing, almost lovable character, in this outing.
The scene of the creation of the Monster is quite well staged, as is the later sequence of the dormant creature being revived. The sets and backgrounds look good and the acting is decent. A longer running time might have allowed for some more development of the relationship between the nameless mute girl and Hans, Frankenstein's assistant, as well as the friendship between the girl and the Monster. There are hints of a family atmosphere, with Frankenstein almost seeming a father figure to the two younger people, and the Monster as a sort of child in need of guidance.
This is a very entertaining little movie, and would probably be enjoyed by anyone who likes the old Universal classics.
I've watched this movie a few times and although Peter Cushing gave his usual great performance this film falls a bit short of the mark in Hammers' Frankenstein cannon. First and foremost, there is no continuity between this film and it's predecessor, the very well done,"The Revenge Of Frankenstein" This has a lot to do with Freddie Francis being Director instead of Terence Fisher. Kiwi Kingston looks like a 3rd rate Boris Karloff, however, being an ex wrestler, and not an actor, also, wearing very bad makeup he does his best with the material handed to him. The supporting cast, Sandor Eles, Peter Woodthorpe, Duncan Lamont, and David Hutcheson, do an OK job, it's just that with the very good "Curse Of Frankanstein" and the excellent "The Revenge Of Frankenstein" i was expecting a lot more. It's still a film worth seeing. Grab that popcorn and enjoy. John R. Tracy
Trying to get his experiments started again, Baron Frankenstein and his
assistant find his earlier creature frozen in ice and still alive,
where a local magician uses it to exact revenge on the townspeople who
race to stop it before the creature starts another rampage.
This here wasn't that bad and actually had some good stuff going for it. The best parts to this one here was whenever it had the creature either as the main focus of the scene or featured it on-screen. The first scene with it, the flashback to the past where it shows the creature's first rampage through the forest and its' confrontations with the townsfolk results in some fun as the chases are nice, the stunts aren't too bad and it has a fun atmosphere that makes it really enjoyable. The fact that there's also some rather fun and enjoyable scenes later on inside the lab where the creature is being brought back to life through the hypnosis makes it quite fun, and when the creature goes out and gets his rampage going, the murder scenes are all nicely done. The final confrontation, where the monster gets out of control and starts a massive fire in the lab which soon turns into an inferno and takes out pretty much everything it can, manages to have much more fun from it when the hero gets stuck down there for the explosive final confrontation. The discovery of the creature takes place in a novel setting with the gloomy atmospherics of the cave-setting, the actual excavation is handled realistically and manages to feel completely plausible the whole way through, which is an unusual for these sorts of things. These here are enough to hold this off against its' bad parts, though there isn't a whole lot of flaws to this one. One of the main issues with the film is that there's an incredibly lame monster design chosen that doesn't do much of anything to instill fear in the viewer, as the expressionless green face looks like a block of flesh put atop the body, it's general shape is baggy and inconsistent, and on the whole there's hardly a whole lot of inference given it's pedigree to the past. The other flaw to this one, and the one that does the most damage is the film's utter dullness when it isn't focused on the monster. The monster is brought out in full detail quite late in the film, making it a real stretch in the beginning to get some good parts out of it. It's slow, dull and beyond the fun flashback has nothing all that exciting to make it interesting by focusing on such extreme lengths as it does on the carnival troupe and their reaction around town who in turn are yet again up-in-arms over the activities being conducted at Frankenstein manor which doesn't really allow much action, and it takes a while before something fun happens. These are the film's weak points.
Hammer had made a concentrated effort not to copy elements of the Universal films which inspired them for fear of copyright litigation but because of a distribution deal with the American studio they were permitted to make The Evil of Frankenstein in the style of the classic monsters of the 30s-40s. The baron returns to his castle and enlists the aid of a carnival hypnotist to help control his creation (patterned after the Jack Pierce make ups). The hypnotist has a secret agenda however and orders the monster to murder his enemies. It's interesting to see Cushing playing the insane baron in a more heroic light. Recommended.
The Evil of Frankenstein is directed by Freddie Francis and written by
John Elder. It stars Peter Cushing, Sandor Eles, Peter Woodthorpe and
Katy Wild. Music is by Don Banks and cinematography by John Wilcox.
Returning back to Karlstad after a ten year absence, Baron Frankenstein (Cushing) hopes that the town has forgotten his monstrous impact on the town previously. With assistant Hans (Eles) in tow, it's not long before the Baron stumbles upon his monster creation frozen in a glacier of ice...
Anything they don't understand, anything that doesn't conform to their stupid little pattern...they destroy.
With Hammer Films finally getting friendly with Universal Pictures, The Evil of Frankenstein forgets the two previous Hammer Frankenstein movies and goes for what is in all essence a rehash of Karloff's stomping days. That's not necessarily a bad thing if one can judge the film as a standalone movie? But creativity is sparse and it's left to the cast and technical department to create an above average Frankenstein movie.
Yep, it sure does look nice, with impressive costuming and well dressed sets, it's a Hammer movie for sure. Bank's score is also classic Hammer strains. Cushing gives his usual dose of quality, though he is a touch restrained here in terms of committed emotion, and you have to smile at his James Bond moment during one getaway scene while a buxom babe looks on with kinky lustation in her eyes. Elsewhere it's a safe turn of cast performances, with future Dad of Delboy Trotter, Woodthorpe, camping it up as the scheming and revenge fuelled hypnotist Zoltan, Wild isn't asked to do much, and neither is Eles, who seems to be in it for some continental flavour. Francis is no Terence Fisher, but he has a good visual flair and he can construct a very good action sequence, such as the excellent finale here.
There's problems for sure; familiarity of Frankenstein movies in general hurts, the make up for the creature is very poor, one back screen projection sequence is very cheap even by low grade Hammer standards, while some of the Baron's reactions to situations don't bear up to logical scrutiny. It's not hard to understand why it's a very divisive movie amongst the Hammer Horror faithful. Yet its merits hold up well and it never once sags or becomes tiring. Cushing, Wilcox and that finale ensure it's a decent night in by the fire. 6.5/10
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