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Ghastly ReflectionsHammer Files: The Revenge of Frankenstein
POSTED BY TERENCE NUZUM, September 27, 2014    Share

Hammer's sequel to their smash hit Curse of Frankenstein is maybe the most experimental and brave they ever got. The film breaks the mold of what you would expect in a sequel. The monster is sympathetic and the Doctor is the pure evil one. The creature itsself isn't the lumbering Karloff mold nor the zombie-like Lee creature from the original film. When I first saw this film I can say I was underwhelmed. Upon recent viewings, now that I have matured beyond 16 years old when I first saw it, I appreciate the daring and bold ideas and class that director Terence Fisher and writer Jimmy Sangster were trying to bring to this film.

In Revenge of Frankenstein we pick up right where Curse ended. Victor Frankenstein is about to face the guillotine but instead, in one of the best cop-outs in horror movie history, Frankenstein has paid off the executioner to behead the priest walking him down the courtyard instead. Frankenstein then sets up shop in a town under an alias and attracts the attention of Kleve a follower who desprately wants to learn from him. With his help Frankenstein transplants the brain of his hunchback janitor Karl into a new handsome body. Of course a couple beatings to the head and Karl turns from fully functional creature to a slobbering carnivorous horror. Dr. Frankenstein is of course murdered again but manages to turn yet another miraculous super villain escape when Kleve transplants his brain into a copy body that Frankenstein had prepared for such an occasion!

Peter Cushing plays the mad Doctor with more menace than ever before. There isn't even a trace of misguided judgement in him that we might have seen in Curse. He not only lies to get what he wants but he uses his homeless patients body parts for his experiments. Michael Gywnn as the Karl creature plays the transformation perfectly. This creature is one that is kind and is genteel. He fits into society easily. And he talks! This isn't the only time that Hammer would use this often forgotten aspect of Shelley's novel. When he becomes deranged and violent in the end half Gwynn has no trouble making the change.

The filmmakers could have given us a film with a quicker pacing and more horrifying moments but instead went for a tragic drama of what happens when man plays god and when mans fears destroy innocence. In this way Hammer came the closest anyone had to realizing the themes of Mary Shelley's novel. One of Hammer's best films and one of the few that dared to break the mold of the typical monster run amok syndrome.

"Ghastly Reflections" is ©2014 by Terence Nuzum. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2014 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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