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Ghastly ReflectionsThe Hammer Files: The Curse of Frankenstein
POSTED BY TERENCE NUZUM, August 30, 2014    Share

My love affair with Hammer began not with a just by chance viewing on a late horror program or a friends recommendation but instead, after years reading about them, I decided to take it into my own hands and watch them in chronological order. I might have skipped over Quatermass, I can't be sure, since my earliest memory is starting with 1957's The Curse of Frankenstein.

Curse is the mother and father of all that Hammer would be. I was transfixed by not only the fact that it was set in the times of the novel but that it wasn't stilted by being too Victorian or Shakespearean. The characters may have been dressed for a BBC historical but the acting style was all 1950's Brando fury. The horrors were not suggested but shown in all their bloody glory and the same went for the women. It felt less like I was betraying my beloved Universal horror monsters and more like they got a new lease on life. An alternate reality were the women bared breasts and blood flowed aplenty. Curse is still to this day in my top 5 of all time Hammer films. Cushing won me over with his pure sociopathic take on Victor Frankenstein as did Lee with his crippled take on the creature.

Hammer had at least a dozen films under their belt and a success with The Quatermass Experiment before they turned towards horror films. Mary Shelley's tale of the modern prometheus was an obvious place to start. It was an established novel that was not only already established by Universal's Horror films but also in public domain. The film its self isn't exactly true to Shelley's novel but it at least gets the feel a little more than Universal's films. That being said Christopher Lee's creature looks and acts nothing like Universal's. Universal made sure there would be no copying of Jack Pierce's iconic makeup for Karloff. Instead Lee's creature is scarred and horrific looking and isn't the gentle giant Karloff was but a rampaging countryside killer. There is also little to no empathy for the creature save for the fact that he is a horrific creation that is shot and lobotomized by his creator like a lump of meat. The real star of the show isn't Christopher Lee yet (that would be in Horror of Dracula the following year) but Peter Cushing and his deliciously unemotional portrayal of Victor Frankenstein. Unlike other versions he is not the victim but the villian. Kudos must go to Hammer director Terrence Fisher for pulling everything out of Cushing for this film.
If you are just starting out watching Hammer there is no better place than this perhaps their best and their first true horror film. It paved the way for gore and sex in horror cinema and still to this day is beloved and respected by all horror kids and Hammer aficionados everywhere.

"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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