The evil Dr. Victor von Frankenstein is back, and up to more nefarious deeds in this Hammer sequel to Curse of Frankenstein. Having somehow gotten a lookalike Priest to die in his place during his execution at the end of the first film, Frankenstein has set up a new practice in Carlsbuck under the unassuming name of Dr. Stein. He’s made quite a good name for himself among the locals for treating the poor in the pauper’s hospital. It seems perhaps Dr. Frankenstein has changed, but we learn the truth after a young doctor named Hans Kleve recognizes Victor for his true identity and asks to be taken on as an apprentice. It turns out the pauper’s hospital is Frankenstein’s personal body harvesting field, and he’s building a new monster from the parts. Together they transplant the brain of a hunchback named Karl into the new body, with tragic results. I liked this sequel much more than the original. The new pathos of this incarnation of Frankenstein that were set up in the first are fully capitalized on in this. Also, it has the advantage of being an original story rather than an updating of the Mary Shelly novel. The new monster, Karl, is more humanoid and therefore much more empathetic than Lee’s version in Curse of Frankenstein. The ability to speak and acts gives the character more to work with as well, rather than aping Boris Karloff.
Another point in this films favor is the lab. The set design of it is really cool, and has a practicality to it that helps sell the reality of it being run by a turn of the century mad scientist. There is a scene where Frankenstein shows Hans around the facility and relishes showing him body parts (eyes, hands, brain) being animated by electricity and how the parts react to the fear of fire. Although we can still see the wires moving the eyes around, it still is a cool scene.
Other than the Curse of Frankenstein, I haven’t seen the Hammer Frankenstein series of films. Revenge of Frankenstein was a first time watch for me, and I enjoyed it. It moves at a quicker pace, has an original story, and I enjoyed the transgressive nature of this series as Frankenstein continues to cheat justice, and death, to continue on in his single-minded obsession to create life. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the series has to offer.
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