Wednesday, October 15, 2008

31 Days of Halloween - Day 15 Movie 1

At the beginning of "The Evil of Frankenstein" (1964) Frankenstein's secret lab and his strange experiments are again discovered and once again he is forced to abandon everything and flee to start again. Penniless, this time, he and his assistant Hans (Sandor Eles) make for Frankenstein's abandoned chateau where he plans to sell of his valuable artwork, carpets and furnishings so that he can furnish a new laboratory. He arrives only to discover his home has been ransacked and looted by the burgomeister who evicted him from town for his original experiments.

A flashback is provided which gives us a very different variation on the events from "The Curse of Frankenstein" this time eliminating Frankenstein's assistant, his fiance, and almost all of the rest of the plot, replacing it with a new monster, this time bearing more resemblence to the Universal version of the monster, with big metal lunchboxes for shoes and large blocky head with metal bolts on its sides and a greenish pallor. This monster wasn't violent, but craved raw meat and its slaughter of a herd of sheep led to its demise and Frankenstein's banishment, rather than imposed execution.

While fleeing again, Frankenstein and Hans discover through a deaf/mute beggar girl, the monster frozen in a block of plastic sheeting, meant to be ice. They revive the monster, but can't get his brain to react. Recruiting a carnival hypnotist to awaken the monster's brain, Frankenstein is betrayed as the hypnotist takes control of the monster, using him to loot the town and murder his enemies (who happen to be Frankenstein's enemies as well) attracting the police and a mob to Frankenstein's home, where the scientist and his creation are trapped in the burning laboratory.

The strength in this movie is again Peter Cushing's performance. This time he shifts back and forth from cold arrogance to a character worthy of sympathy as he bemoans the fact that he is constantly having to restart from scratch as the authorities hound him and force him to abandon his laboratories and experiments.

The monster (Kiwi Kingston) is also sympathetic, only carrying out evil actions under the control of the hypnotist. The make-up often looks crude, but it works with the monster's somewhat clumsy nature, giving it the sense of a being not used to moving in its body.

This third entry in Hammer's Frankenstein series holds up well, but is not as inventive as the first two entries.

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