THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) Reviews and overview

 

The Curse of Frankenstein, Hammer’s seminal classic, will be released on Blu-ray in the USA on December 15th 2020 via Warner Archive.

The new two-disc edition includes the film in three aspect ratios: 1.85 widescreen, 1.66 widescreen, and 1.37 open matte. It has been restored in 4K from preservation separation elements.

Special features:

New: Audio commentary by film historians Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr
New: The Resurrection Men: Hammer, Frankenstein and the Rebirth of the Horror Film (new)
New: Hideous Progeny: The Curse of Frankenstein and the English Gothic Tradition
New: Torrents of Light: The Art of Jack Asher
New: Diabolus in Musica: James Bernard and the Sound of Hammer Horror
Theatrical trailer

Meanwhile, here is our previous coverage of the movie:

‘No-one who saw it lived to describe it!’

The Curse of Frankenstein is a 1957 British science fiction horror film directed by Terence Fisher from a screenplay by Jimmy Sangster, loosely based on the novel Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley. The movie stars Peter Cushing, Hazel Court, Robert Urquhart and Christopher Lee as the creature.

Max Rosenberg who later founded Amicus Productions with Milton Subotsky originally approached Michael Carreras at Hammer Films with a deal to produce “Curse of Frankenstein” from a script by Subotsky. Later, both men were cut out of their profit participation making only a $5,000 fee for bringing the production to Hammer.

The film was a massive financial hit and reportedly grossed more than seventy times its production cost during its original theatrical run. Its worldwide success led to several sequels, and Hammer Films’ new versions of Dracula (1958) and The Mummy (1959) and established “Hammer Horror” as a distinctive brand of Gothic cinema.

Plot:

In 19th Century Switzerland, Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) is in prison, awaiting execution for murder. He tells the story of his life to a visiting priest.

His mother’s death leaves the young Frankenstein (Melvyn Hayes) in sole control of the Frankenstein estate. He agrees to continue to pay a monthly allowance to his impoverished Aunt Sophia and his young cousin Elizabeth (whom his aunt suggests will make him a good wife). Soon afterwards, he engages a man named Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart) to tutor him.

After several years of intense study, Victor learns all that Krempe can teach him. The duo begin collaborating on scientific experiments. One night, after a successful experiment in which they bring a dead dog back to life, Victor suggests that they create a perfect human being from body parts…

Reviews:

“Eyeballs, severed hands and surgical procedures are presented in a relatively unflinching style. At one point, the Monster is shot in the head and blood gushes from its wound. This approach distanced the film from Universal’s monochrome, more suggestive horrors. The film was met with great enthusiasm by paying audiences, but alienated and horrified critics.” BFI Screenonline

Curse of Frankenstein is everything you’ve ever read about it – undeniably a classic, and possibly one of the best films made during the 50s. Okay, so not a great deal happens for much of the film (Christopher Lee’s monster doesn’t appear for what seems like hours), but as a platform for Peter Cushing’s considerable talents it’s superb.” British Horror Films

” …The Curse of Frankenstein is an outstanding film. It may not have that much in common with its source material but Cushing’s brilliant performance and some early cinematic gore effects make this one a must see for any casual fan of the genre. It’s a classic film and one of the best, most influential horror films ever made.” Andrew Smith, Daily Dead

” …it adds dynamism and British grit to a genre that had previously tried to get by on atmospherics and mood alone. It manages to be shocking without being especially frightening, and its virtues of performance and style remain striking.” Kim Newman, Empire

Contemporary reviews:

” …sacrificed by an ill-made script, poor direction and performance, and above all, a preoccupation with disgusting-not horrific-charnelry” Monthly Film Bulletin, 1957

“This British version of the [Mary Shelley] classic shocker emphasizes not so much the uncontrollable blood lust of the created monster as the clinical details whereby the crazy scientist accumulates the odd organs with which to assemble the creature.” Variety, 1957

Cast and characters:

Peter Cushing … Victor Frankenstein
Hazel Court … Elizabeth
Robert Urquhart … Paul Krempe
Christopher Lee … The Creature
Melvyn Hayes … Young Victor
Valerie Gaunt … Justine
Paul Hardtmuth … Professor Bernstein
Noel Hood … Aunt
Fred Johnson … Grandpa
Claude Kingston … Little Boy
Alex Gallier … Priest
Michael Mulcaster … Warder
Andrew Leigh … Burgomaster
Anne Blake … Wife
Sally Walsh … Young Elizabeth
Middleton Woods … Lecturer
Raymond Ray … Uncle
Josef Behrmann … Fritz (uncredited)
Henry Caine … Schoolmaster (uncredited)
Trevor Davis … Uncle (uncredited)
Marjorie Hume … Mother (uncredited)
Ernest Jay … Undertaker (uncredited)
Eugene Leahy … 2nd Priest (uncredited)
Bartlett Mullins … Tramp (uncredited)
Raymond Rollett … Father Felix (uncredited)
Paddy Smith … Servant (uncredited)

Technical credits: 

82 minutes
Eastmancolor
Aspect ratio: 1.75: 1
Audio: mono (RCA Sound Recording)

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