Tales of Frankenstein – TV pilot, USA, 1958

tales-of-frankenstein-1958

Tales of Frankenstein is a 1958 science fiction horror TV pilot episode directed by Curt Siodmak from a script by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore [as Catherine Kuttner), based on Siodmak’s story. The episode title, which doesn’t appear onscreen, is “The Face in the Tombstone Mirror”. It is in the public domain.

The pilot was a co-production between Hammer Film Productions and Columbia Pictures and was intended as the first episode in a series. However, differences in approach by Columbia and Hammer meant that no further episodes were filmed.

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Anton Diffring stars as Baron Frankenstein with Don Megowan as the Creature. Megowan also played the creature known as the Gill-man on land in The Creature Walks Among Us.

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Baron Frankenstein sends his servants away every night, even in the worst weather, so he can be alone with his experiments. One night he brings his creation to life, but having the brain of a murderer, it tries to strangle him. In the struggle it is accidentally electrocuted. He decides he needs to find a new brain, from someone more intelligent.

That night, Paul and Christine Halpert arrive in the village, to visit the Baron. They are hoping he can cure Paul’s illness, but the Baron refuses, telling them that a hospital can do more than he can. The couple stay at a local inn and consult the village doctor. It is no use, Paul dies.

The Baron pays the cemetery groundskeeper to leave the grave unsealed the night after the funeral. Christine finds the grave defiled the next day, with a locket that was buried with him on the ground. Christine demands from the groundskeeper who paid him to leave the grave open, and he tells her it was Frankenstein.

Frankenstein had by this time transplanted Paul’s brain into the body of the Monster. As Paul discovered his new body, he becomes violent and pursues the Baron. Christine arrives at the castle to find out what the Baron did with Paul. The Baron tries to feign ignorance until the Monster smashes into the room to kill Frankenstein.

Paul chases the Baron outside, through woods and old castle ruins before catching up with him. Christine stops him from harming the Baron, reminding him that the Baron had only done what they asked. She tells him he was a good man and begs him not to throw it away just because of a hideous body.

Paul throws himself down some castle ruins, and is buried. Frankenstein tries to dig him out, but the constable arrives to charge him with body snatching.

As he is being arrested, the Baron tells the policeman, “You have your job to do, and so have I – and I don’t think either of us would let anything stand in the way of our respective destinies…time is of small matter… there is always tomorrow.”

Cast and characters:

  • Anton Diffring … Baron Frankenstein
  • Helen Westcott … Christine Halpert
  • Don Megowan … The Monster
  • Ludwig Stössel … Wilhelm
  • Richard Bull … Paul Halpert
  • Raymond Greenleaf … Doctor
  • Peter Brocco … Gottfried—Cemetery Caretaker
  • Sydney Mason … Police Chief
  • David Hoffman … Head in Crystal ball (archive footage from Universal’s Inner Sanctum) [uncredited]
  • Ben Wright … Narrator [uncredited]

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