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The Evil of Frankenstein

Synopsis of The Evil of Frankenstein (1963) starring Peter Cushing, Kiwi Kingston

Penniless, Baron Frankenstein returns to his hometown to retrieve whatever items he can to sell … only to find that they’ve already been taken by the corrupt mayor. The baron and his assistant seek refuge in a cave.  With the help of a deaf girl, the Baron and his assistant find the original monster frozen in ice. They revive the creature but need the services of a hypnotist to control it … a hypnotist with ulterior motives.

Review of The Evil of Frankenstein

Color photograph of Peter Cushing as Dr. Frankenstein in The Evil of FrankensteinTo begin with, The Evil of Frankenstein isn’t a bad movie …  But it’s probably the worst Frankenstein film that Hammer Films made.  The Evil of Frankenstein is the third in their series of Frankenstein movies.  Unlike the previous movies, Hammer was allowed to use the iconic look of Universal’s Frankenstein movies.  Since Universal was distributing the movie, they permitted it –which was a grave mistake. The makeup for the monster (played by Kiwi Kingston — love that name) looks absolutely horrible–not horrifying. It frankly looks like a latex mask purchased at a Halloween costume shop.

Also, when the Baron (played by Peter Cushing) tells his history in a flashback to his assistant, it’s notably changed from the previous movies. No longer is Baron Frankenstein an amoral scientist willing to murder to achieve his goals; instead, he’s a misunderstood scientist whose creature merely slaughtered some livestock. Also, oddly enough, the Baron’s personality is changed; he now has a quick temper that repeatedly overwhelms his better judgment (and common sense) which leads to some of the trouble later on …

The Evil of Frankenstein – in detail

Returning to his hometown (which, in itself, is foolish since he faces a death sentence) he realizes that the Burgomeister is wearing his family ring, so … he goes to the Chief of police to demand that the Burgomeister be arrested. The Chief of police, however, instead tries to arrest the Baron, causing him and his assistant to flee into the crowd.  Thankfully there’s a festival going on, and they see (and participate in) a hypnotist’s act, giving the Baron an idea for later …  But first, they go to find shelter for the night and end up in a hillside cave, where they meet a deaf shepherd girl … She leads them to the frozen body of Frankenstein’s original monster. Baron Frankenstein decides to take the creature back to his ruined family castle to revive it … with the help of his assistant and the deaf girl.

The burgomeister's wife in The Evil of FrankensteinAfter a funny (but failed) attempt by the Baron to confront the Burgomeister (whose wife supplies the typical Hammer cleavage), the Baron succeeds in reviving the monster.  But it remains comatose, leading the Baron to hire Professor Zoltan (the hypnotist that they met earlier) who is able to revive the creature … and put it under his exclusive control. Now able to blackmail the Baron, Zoltan displays his true character — including being a borderline alcoholic. When drunk, he orders the monster to get revenge on the Chief of Police. Also on the Burgomeister, who insulted Zoltan earlier; and the monster complies, killing them both.

Once sober, Zoltan is initially horrified by what he’s done — but not enough to stop. The film goes downhill from there, with Zoltan nearly raping the deaf girl.  Then the deaf girl tries to comfort the monster by … getting it drunk. Seriously.

The Evil of Frankenstein is available on DVD, but not on its’ own.  It’s only available as part of a collection of other Hammer horror movies; with good reason. I only rate it 2 stars out of 5, and that’s frankly only because of the acting of Peter Cushing.

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

Poster for The Evil of Frankenstein, starring Peter Cushing, Kiwi KingstonThe Evil of Frankenstein is a 1963 British horror film made by Hammer Studio. This film version of Shelley’s tale was directed for Hammer by Freddie Francis. The film stars Peter Cushing as Frankenstein and New Zealand wrestler Kiwi Kingston as the Monster. The film’s version of the Monster is noted for closely resembling Universal Pictures’ famous Frankenstein series of the 1930s and 40s, including the flat-headed look of Jack Pierce’s monster make-up originally designed for the legendary Boris Karloff as well as the distinctive laboratory sets. Earlier Hammer Frankenstein movies had studiously avoided such similarities (for trademark reasons) but a new movie distribution deal with Universal helped provide some latitude.

Quotes from The Evil of Frankenstein

Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing): I realized long ago that the only way to prove my theories was to make something in my laboratory that actually lived. I never told you, Hans… I succeeded once.

Body Snatcher: [referring to a stolen body] I’ve got it!
Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing): So I observe… and so will half the county, if you don’t hurry up and bring it inside!

Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing): [upon discovering a hanged effigy of himself inside his ransacked home] Why can’t they leave me alone? Why can’t they ever leave me alone?

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