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The Curse of Frankenstein

Synopsis of  Curse of Frankenstein

THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, Peter Cushing, 1957In The Curse of Frankenstein, Baron Victor von Frankenstein is facing execution for the murders that he has committed.   He tells the story of how he came to this point, telling his story in flashback. The story of how he learned to reanimate the dead. In an act of hubris, he decides to go beyond that and construct a composite man from a variety of parts looted from corpses.   Along the way, his amoral decisions cause death and misery.  He has alienated his best friend and fiance … who come by to say farewell.

Curse Of Frankenstein, Christopher Lee, 1957 In this retelling of the classic horror tale, Baron Victor Frankenstein becomes friends with one of his teachers, Paul Krempe. At first, both men are fascinated by the potential of their re-animating experiments. Eventually, though, Krempe refuses to help with Frankenstein’s human experiments. However, he is drawn back into the plot when Frankenstein’s creature kills a member of the house staff.

Curse of Frankenstein  (1957) starring Peter Cushing, Hazel Court, Christopher Lee, Robert Urquhart

The Curse Of Frankenstein, Robert Urquhart, Peter Cushing, 1957

Curse of Frankenstein was Hammer Studios’ first color film, as well as their first Frankenstein movie. Its’ unexpected success earned them a place in history as the film studio that reinvigorated the horror genre.   Why? What was so exceptional about  Curse of Frankenstein?

Many things–the acting is first-rate. Peter Cushing plays the amoral Baron Victor von Frankenstein. Hazel Court has the role of his beautiful fiance. Robert Urquhart as the Baron’s friend and initial helper. They share the bizarre task of giving life to a patchwork quilt of a human being. The result is the creature, played by Christopher Lee, that is both sympathetic and nearly mindless.   But the true monster in this film is Baron von Frankenstein.

Peter Cushing - The Curse of Frankenstein

Peter Cushing does an incredible job of portraying Baron Victor von Frankenstein in a bone-chilling way.   Frankenstein is a scientist who cares nothing about morality, good or evil–or consequences.   This Baron von Frankenstein is a heartless man, willing to murder a man whose intellect he admires …  In order to harvest his brain for the creature.   A man who, despite being engaged to the lovely Hazel Court, has an affair with his own housemaid.  He heartlessly manipulates her into meeting the monster so that the monster can murder her.  This murder is to prevent anyone from finding out that she was pregnant with the Baron’s child.

It’s a fascinating look into the descent of a brilliant man into being a heartless murderer–and riveting.

Curse of Frankenstein is a true classic of the horror genre and is definitely not for children.   For teenagers and older, I recommend it and rate it 4 stars out of 5.

Editorial review of The Curse of Frankenstein, courtesy of  Amazon.com

THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, from left: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, 1957Baron Victor Frankenstein was the archetypal aristocrat, well-read, cultured and arrogant. Beyond the sophisticated veneer existed a cruel, utterly unscrupulous man, obsessed with ambition. Determined to realize his greatest dream to create life, he had assembled a creature from organs gathered from various unwilling donors. The creature is successful brought to life but the instability of the brain, damaged during surgery, causes uncontrollable violent spasms that result in indiscriminate murder — and it is the Baron to whom the blame is laid with fatal consequences.

The Curse of Frankenstein is a classic 1957 British horror film by  Hammer Film Productions, based on the novel Frankenstein (1816) by Mary Shelley. It was Hammer’s first colour horror film and the first of their Frankenstein series. Its worldwide success led to several sequels, and the studio’s new versions of  Dracula  (1958) and  The Mummy  (1959) and established ““Hammer Horror” as a distinctive brand of Gothic cinema. The film was directed by Terence Fisher and starred Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in two of their most iconic roles. …

Trivia for  The Curse of Frankenstein

  • Although they had both previously appeared in Hamlet (1948) and Moulin Rouge (1952), Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing met on the set of this film for the first time. They would pass the time between shots by exchanging Looney Tunes phrases, and quickly developed a fast friendship, which lasted until Cushing’s death in 1994.
  • For many years  The Curse of Frankenstein was the most profitable film to be produced in England by a British studio.
  • Christopher Lee’s monster make-up was almost literally done at the “last minute”. 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.  He directly applied it 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 recreated from scratch every day.
  • The script called for a child actress to play Hazel Court’s character, Elizabeth, as a little girl in flashback scenes. Court suggested to the producers that her daughter, Sally Walsh, who looked very much like her mother, play the part. As Court said in an interview, ““She hated it – HATED being in it! I think it was all foreign to her, and she didn’t understand it. She still remembers it to this day, and still doesn’t like it!”
  • The original concept for this film was a black-and-white feature with Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein monster. Universal threatened a lawsuit if Hammer copied any elements from the classic Universal version. Hammer had Jimmy Sangster completely redo the script and had Jack Asher shoot it in Eastmancolour.