In prison and awaiting execution, Dr. Victor Frankenstein recounts to a priest what led him to his current circumstance. He inherited his family's wealth after the death of his mother when he was still only a young man. He hired Paul Krempe as his tutor and he immediately developed an interest in medical science. After several years, he and Krempe became equals and he developed an interest in the origins and nature of life. After successfully re-animating a dead dog, Victor sets about constructing a man using body parts he acquires for the purpose including the hands of a pianist and the brain of a renowned scholar. As Frankenstein's excesses continue to grow, Krempe is not only repulsed by what his friend has done but is concerned for the safety of the beautiful Elizabeth, Victor's cousin and fiancée who has come to live with them. His experiments lead to tragedy and his eventual demise.Written by
Opening credits prologue: 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...
For its original cinema release the BBFC required cuts to the scene where a man's head is severed by the Baron and dissolved in acid. The severing was reduced to a brief shot and no footage at all survives of the acid scene. Video and early DVD releases featured the U.S print which was cut further to remove a shot of a severed eyeball as seen through a magnifying glass, though the UK cinema print, which contains this shot, was often shown on BBC television. The 2012 Lionsgate release features the restored version which includes the eyeball shot from the UK print. See more »
"The Curse Of Frankenstein" of 1957 truly is essential for every Horror lover to see. While this first entry to Hammer's ingenious Frankenstein series is not one of my personal favorite Hammer Productions, it were this film and the following "Horror Of Dracula" which basically redefined British Horror, and represent everything the Hammer Studios stand for. Mad Science and the Resurrection of the dead have always been among my favorite Horror topics, and Hammer's Frankenstein films starring the great Peter Cushing are among the most memorable films in the field. My personal favorite film in Hammer's Frankenstein franchise is still the brilliantly insane "Frankenstein Created Woman" of 1967, but this first film is also brilliant, and furthermore gets the benefit of originality. Sometimes in cinema, actors are predestined to play a certain role - and this is definitely the case with Peter Cushing here. Nobody else could have played the role of the obsessed Baron Victor Frankenstein as Cushing did. When it was Hammer's Dracula that made Christopher Lee the Horror icon he is, it was "The Curse Of Frankenstein" and its sequel that rose Peter Cushing to immortal fame.
Hammer's Baron Frankenstein is more (insanely) dedicated than the character is in the novel or any previous film, and Cushing is brilliant in the role, which he played six times altogether. While he is not necessarily a villain as such (he does what he does with the strong conviction of doing what's necessary for the benefit of mankind), Victor Frankenstein gets more and more dedicated to his obsession of creating artificial life and resurrecting the dead in this first "Frankenstein" film from Hammer, and, at a certain point, he is willing to do anything in order to achieve his goals. At first he is still supported by his assistant and former teacher Paul Kempe (Robert Urquhart) who gets more and more frightened by his former student's obsessive behavior...
I do not want to give too much of the plot away, but I guess everybody knows what the story of Frankenstein is about. As the story of Dracula, the Frankenstein story got its haunting Hammer-style makeover. From today's point of view the graphic depiction of violence and gore in the film may seem tame, but back in the day the early Hammer Classics "Curse Of Frankenstein" and "Horror Of Dracula" were some of the first films to actually show red blood, some gore and explicit violence. Both classics were directed by Terence Fisher, easily the most important Hammer director, and, as usual for hammer, the film is greatly photographed in eerie Gothic locations. Gothic castles, foggy grounds and a constantly gloomy mood - this is what makes a lot of the greatness of the world of Hammer. Peter Cushing truly is one of the greatest Horror icons ever, and Hammer's Frankenstein series probably earned him this deserved reputation more than anything else. The monster, by the way, is played by a fellow Horror icon, with whom Cushing formed the most awesome Horror-duo in a whole lot of films, none other than the great Christopher Lee. Hazel Court is a beauty in the female lead, the only tiny negative aspect is the fact that Robert Urquhart's character of Paul sometimes annoys with his moralistic nagging (also, while he is supposed to be Frankenstein's teacher, Urquhart clearly is years younger than Cushing). That does in no way lessen the greatness of this Hammer Classic, however. All said, "The Curse Of Frankenstein" is a true British Horror Classic, which every Horror fan must see, and no film buff in general should miss!
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