The film that truly put UK’s HAMMER Films on the map and spawned 6 sequels, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN is great horror entertainment and, with all due respect to the Universal horror films of the 30’s, a much more satisfying approach to the Frankenstein legend.
Loosely based on the book by Mary Shelly, CURSE finds Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) attempting to create life with the remains of the dead. He is arrogant and ill tempered and, more in line with the original novel, the true monster of the story.
His creation, played by Christopher Lee, is a nightmare vision and due to a damaged brain is also quite dangerous. When the monstrosity goes on a killing spree, it is Victor who ultimately pays the price for his hubris.
Director Terence Fisher set the tone for the horror films that would follow and he does a great job with mood and design and the film doesn’t shy away from violence or bloodshed. He also takes the subject matter quite seriously though is deft enough to add tidbits of dark as night humor.
The film truly belongs to Peter Cushing though. Cushing became a staple at Hammer playing not only Victor Frankenstein in six films but also the iconic Van Helsing in four of their Dracula Films, not to mention roles in many other horror classics including one of my favorites, THE MUMMY (1959).
If you are a fan of horror both modern and classic than I strongly urge you to delve into the Hammer vaults and watch their films. They new what they were doing and cared deeply for the genre but also had an eye firmly on what was commercially viable at the time. These were the HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13th and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET’s of the 50s, 60s and 70s and without them modern horror may not have progressed as it did.