Tuesday, October 14, 2008

31 Days of Halloween - Day 14 Movie 1

"Revenge of Frankenstein" (1958) picks up right where "The Curse of Frankenstein" left off, with Frankenstein being led to the guilotine for execution. He is rescued by Karl, a partially paralyzed hunchback who does it in exchange for Frankenstein transplanting his intelligent brain into a flawless human body. Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) now practicing medicine under the name Dr. Stein is recognized by young Dr. Hans Kleve (Francis Matthews) who works alongside Stein in both his legitimate practice and his dide experiments. Stein has created a body for Karl, and they transfer the brain succesfully. When Karl learns that Stein plans to show him off as a great medical triumph, Karl, who spent most of his life being stared at escapes from his convalescence bed, destroys his old body, and then suffers a number of blows to the head by an abusive janitor, damaging his brain and rapidly transforming him into a twisted feral beast. Stein's true identity is discovered and a second body he constructed to look just like him must be put to use.

This second entry in Hammer's Frankenstein series is an interesting analog to Universal's "House of Frankenstein"(1944). For much of the movie, it's more of a medical drama than a horror movie. Yes, there are some shots of severed limbs and eyes suspended in tanks of fluid, and then there's the whole brain transference plot, but otherwise, its a pretty gentle, optimistic movie about curing a person's ailment. Stein is a sympathetic likeable character, as is Kleve, and Karl in particular. His new body is not at all monstrous, and except for the surgery scars across the forehead, he looks like a normal man. It isn't really until Karl's brain is damaged that the movie begins to resemble a horror movie, and for a Hammer film, this one is relatively bloodless.

It's a nice change of pace for a Frankenstein movie, and well worth viewing.

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