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THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (1970)

Written By:

John Higgins
horror frankenstein

Another of Studio Canal’s anniversary releases in honour of Hammer Films, The Horror Of Frankenstein featured the late Ralph Bates in one of several key roles he held during his time working under the company. It is a part-remake of Hammer’s debut 1957 colour release, The Curse of Frankenstein, and was originally released in 1970.

Bates took over from Peter Cushing in the lead role of Victor Frankenstein, who is portrayed in this film as a young and arrogantly brilliant student who taunts his professors, as well as taking advantage on any number of female students in the process. Things go a little pear-shaped when his father, Baron Frankenstein (George Belbin) demands that he discontinue his experiments on human anatomy, a demand that leads to him sabotaging one of his father’s guns and causing his death during a shooting trip.

Inheriting the title of Baron von Frankenstein, he moves to medical school in Vienna but is expelled after getting the Dean’s daughter pregnant. Upon returning to England, he decides to continue his experiments and resorts to murder and grave-robbing with the help of an accomplice, with a grand plan to create a monster for his own needs….

Directed by Jimmy Sangster – and featuring the original Vader David Prowse following Boris Karloff in the pivotal role as the Monster – The Horror of Frankenstein is a competently executed old-style, old-fashioned horror film and another of the Hammer releases that defined the essence and style of the horror genre.

It’s a faithful tribute to the Shelley characters and legacy and follows the plot line of other adaptations of the novel. Bates is excellent in the role of Frankenstein and evokes the sense of a man at ease with the desire to kill in the name of science, as well as trying to satisfy his darkest nocturnal desires with the local female populace. Kate O’Mara provides good support as Frankenstein’s housemaid Alys.

As with other horror films of the period, seen today The Horror of Frankenstein will be viewed as more of a curiosity with genre fans and will probably have more impact with die-hard Hammer fans and cultists who want to re-trace the back catalogue which they have started to do with recent Hammer releases and remastered version.

It’s not a scare-fest in the grandest sense and some of the moments will provide mild amusement. Prowse is pretty good in the role of The Monster, although he may remind some fans of Oddbod from the classic Carry on Screaming made in 1966.

The film looks great in its re-mastered version like the other key releases this year, with excellent sound and picture and it will certainly be a great addition to any Hammer fans collection.

THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (1970) / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: JEREMY BURNHAM, JIMMY SANGSTER / STARRING: RALPH BATES, KATE O’MARA, VERONICA CARLSON, DENNIS PRICE, JON FINCH, DAVID PROWSE / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 29TH

John Higgins

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