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The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Approved | | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller | 25 June 1957 (USA)
Victor Frankenstein builds a creature and brings it to life, but it behaves not as he intended.

Director:

Terence Fisher

Writers:

Jimmy Sangster (screenplay), Mary Shelley (based on the classic story by) (as Mary W. Shelley)
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Cushing ... Victor Frankenstein
Hazel Court ... Elizabeth
Robert Urquhart Robert Urquhart ... Paul Krempe
Christopher Lee ... The Creature
Melvyn Hayes ... Young Victor
Valerie Gaunt Valerie Gaunt ... Justine
Paul Hardtmuth Paul Hardtmuth ... Prof. Bernstein
Fred Johnson ... Grandpa
Noel Hood Noel Hood ... Aunt
Michael Mulcaster Michael Mulcaster ... Warder
Alex Gallier Alex Gallier ... Priest
Claude Kingston Claude Kingston ... Little Boy
Andrew Leigh Andrew Leigh ... Burgomaster
Anne Blake ... Wife
Sally Walsh Sally Walsh ... Young Elizabeth
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Storyline

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What evil hath science wrought? See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 June 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La maldición de Frankenstein See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP65,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hammer Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolour) (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Christopher Lee's monster make-up was almost literally done at the "last minute". After previous attempts to design a monster make-up using a cast of Lee's head had failed, Make-up Artist Philip Leakey made the final design the day before shooting began, directly onto Lee's face, using primarily cotton and other household materials. Since he didn't use any latex or molds, the make-up had to be re-created from scratch every day. See more »

Goofs

When the blind man is attacked, the top button of the Creature's coat is unbuttoned in one shot and buttoned in the next. See more »

Quotes

Baron Frankenstein: Shall I tell you something, Paul? There you see the result of your handiwork as much as mine, I gave him life, I put a brain in his head, but I chose a good brain, a brilliant one. It was you who damaged it, you who put a bullet in the wretched thing. This is your fault, Paul! Do you understand that? Your fault.
Paul Krempe: Yes I understand.
Baron Frankenstein: But you won't win, Paul. And shall I tell you why you won't win? Because I shall carry on, if I can't cure it by brain surgery then I'll get another brain, and another...
See more »

Crazy Credits

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...

The Curse of Frankenstein See more »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The birth of Hammer horror!
7 August 2007 | by jluis1984See all my reviews

In 1934, during the boom of British cinema, businessman William Hinds, decided to enter the industry and create his own film company, "Hammer Productions Ltd.", where he would produce several movies before being forced into bankruptcy due to the end of the industry's bonanza. Along with partner Enrique Carreras, Hinds became a film distributor, but that wasn't really the end of Hammer's history, as many years later, Carreras' son James joined Hinds' son Anthony and together with their parents, resurrected Hammer Film Productions in 1949. The next two important events in Hammer's history were the hiring of director Terence Fisher in 1951, and the enormous success of 1955's horror film, "The Quatermass Xperiment", as they would play important roles the company's future. While Hammer was preparing "Quatermass 2", they gave Terence Fisher the chance to resurrect Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", and Hammer Horror was born.

In "The Curse of Frankenstein", Peter Cushing plays Baron Victor Frankenstein, who after losing his family at a young age, hires scientist Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart) as a mentor. Along Krempe, the young Baron develops his enormous genius for science, becoming great friends and colleagues as he grows up. During one of their experiments, they discover a way to bring a dead dog back to life, an amazing discovery that excites both scientists as it could be of enormous use for medicine. However, Victor wants to go further, and decides that the next step is the creation of life. Krempe refuses to help Victor in that experiment, but decides to stay in the house to protect Victor's cousin Elizabeth (Hazel Court), who has arrived to marry Victor, unsuspecting of her fianceé's experiments. The Baron's obsession with his experiment will prove to be more dangerous than what Krempe thinks.

The screenplay for this new version of Shelley's classic was written by Jimmy Sangster, who had previously written "X: The Unknown" for Hammer the previous year. Unlike what happens in Universal's 1931 classic adaptation, the plot is completely focused on the Baron's figure instead of on the creature, which gives a new and fresh angle to the story, as it explores Frankenstein's obsessions and how they begin to consume his life. To achieve this, Sansgter adds a lot of human drama and character development that at times makes the film more a Gothic tragedy than a typical horror film, but even when limited, Sangster's use of suspense is still pretty effective. It still isn't exactly a straight adaptation of Shelley's novel, but Sangster's screenplay does offer an interesting idea by not making the Creature a misunderstood monster, but the literal symbol of Frankenstein's failure and corruption.

Anyways, while Jimmy Sangster's screenplay is indeed worthy of recognition, it was really Terence Fisher's work as a director what ultimately gave Hammer horror it's true face. While already an experienced director by the time he made "The Curse of Frankenstein", Fisher found in Hammer's horror films the creative freedom that allowed him to explore new realms in this reinterpretations of old classics. His care for details in set design and costume design give the film a great look that equals the one of movies with bigger production values, and using vibrant colors, he puts a special emphasis on blood for the first time. There are also several sexual overtones in the film that give the movie a different style to previous incarnations of the novel, an element that Fisher would take further in posterior movies, specially in "Dracula" and "The Curse of the Werewolf".

"The Curse of Frankenstein" is also the film that introduced two of the most important actors in the horror genre since the days of Universal's movies: Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. As Baron Frankenstein, Cushing delivers an outstanding performance that can be considered among the best in the history of the genre. Making a fascinating character out of the unsympathetic Baron is not easy, but Cushing succeeds remarkably and completely makes the movie his own. Lee has a considerably smaller role as the Creature, but while "Dracula" would be the movie where he would shine the most, here he delivers a powerful performance as the Monster. As Frankenstein's mentor, Paul Krempe, Robert Urquhart is pretty effective and makes a great counterpart to Cushing's Baron. Hazel Court is less successful as Elizabeth, although it's not really a bad performance at all.

It's hard not to think about comparing Fisher's interpretation of "Frankenstein" to the legendary movie made by James Whale 26 years before for Universal, but really, in the end it's a pointless exercise as both movies are so different from each other (and different from Shelley's novel) that there's no proper way to compare them. While one has a powerful story of a misunderstood monster (played brilliantly by Boris Karloff), the other is a tale of ambition and obsessions where the monster is nothing more than the ultimate result of Frankenstein's evil, so it's impossible to tell which one is the best of the two. What can really be said about "The Curse of Frankenstein" is that it suffers from an extremely slow pace that may turn off some viewers, although as the story unfolds, this slow pace does pay off in the end and helps to build up a perfect Gothic atmosphere.

An enormously successful film, "The Curse of Frankenstein" began the style of Gothic horror that would later be labeled as "Hammer Horror". With Fisher at the helm, Hammer would become a great influence in how the genre was developed through the 60s, giving it new life and pushing the boundaries of the era. While maybe overshadowed by Fisher's posterior masterpieces, "The Curse of Frankenstein" is still one of the best tales of Gothic horror that have appeared on the silver screen. 8/10


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