YOUR BLOOD WILL CONGEAL!
I love that line. It’s in the film’s trailer for this the first sequel to Hammer’s The Curse of Frankenstein released the year previously. This film picks up right where it’s predecessor left off allowing Peter Cushing’s Baron Frankenstein to escape the death sentence and begin anew his quest to create a superior being. Fast forward three years to a new location and Peter has a thriving practice as well as spending all his spare time with the poor and diseased. This allows him easy access to the “parts” he so badly needs to carry on his work. Item’s such as the finger tips of a pick pocket.
Gaining no friends among his medical colleagues, there is one young doctor who recognizes the newly christened Dr. Stein for who he really is. Played by Hammer regular Francis Matthew, he joins Cushing in the laboratory where they plan on taking the brain from a deformed man and placing it into the body of the perfect being in the shape of Michael Gwynne. Until the monster in Gwynne surfaces towards the end of the film he has some great scenes of pathos that were well written by the studios Jimmy Sangster. Upon learning of Cushing’s plan to display the before and after bodies of Gwynne’s character the line “all my life I’ve been stared at” holds power as he has no desire to become a bigger “freak” than he already was by societies standards. Leading lady Eunice Gayson is quite taken in with Gwynne’s plight helping to move the plot along.
As is the custom in these colorfully filmed Hammer shockers, things don’t work out to well for Peter’s Baron Frankenstein. Gwynne’s character begins to regress to what he was leading to a violent ending for some of our leading characters. The Baron will of course find a way to return although we the viewers would have to wait a full six years for The Evil of Frankenstein which sadly was a bit of a let down.
This film is from Hammer’s first wave of world wide popularity and I for one never tire of the studios output. Especially their initial genre efforts from the late fifties. Directed by their “ace” Terence Fisher this is a solid if not better film than Curse was in 1957. Fisher was responsible for most of their breakthrough films including Dracula, The Mummy and many of the subsequent sequels that the studio would unleash on an eager public. Familiar faces pop up including Lionel Jeffries and of course Michael Ripper as a pair of Burke and Hare type lowlifes.
While Peter Cushings Baron Frankenstein has usually been played as a cold fish it’s just that along with his arrogance towards others that makes the character so watchable. His thirst for success leads him through six films released by Hammer. The final effort would be in 1974 with the release of Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell. Trivia fans should check out the Jerry Lewis directed One More Time for a special appearance from The Baron as well as that other Hammer character made so popular by Peter’s long time screen nemesis Christopher Lee.
These films are always well worth watching and for those that are not into the horror genre, give them a try if for no other reason to appreciate the finest actor along with Karloff to be “saddled” with the “horror star” tagline.
And oh yes…….. Happy Birthday Peter!