Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (1970). Director: Jimmy Sangster.

A retelling of the Frankenstein legend has little to do with Mary Shelley's novel and much more to do with Hammer Film's 1957 Curse of Frankenstein, in which Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) was much more evil than his monster. In this black comedy variation, Ralph Bates offers a splendid interpretation of a Victor Frankenstein who has outward grace and charm but is thoroughly rotten inside. Whenever anyone gets in his way – including his best friend – he murders him or has him killed by the monster. He poisons the father of the woman who loves him, and when she loses everything to her late father's creditors invites her to move into his mansion – not as his wife but as his housekeeper! One of the most rousing scenes has Bates dousing the blackmailer who brought him corpses in an acid bath. Kate O'Mara is succulent as the sexy wench who services the elder Frankenstein and then his son, and David Prowse (who stood in for Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies as James Earl Jones mouthed the words) makes a rather handsome monster. Jon Finch (of Hitchcock's Frenzy) is Victor's old friend and current police inspector. Whatever its flaws this is highly entertaining and quite well acted by all. While Sangster was never exactly one of the great horror directors, he keeps things moving at a very swift pace.

Verdict: Great fun. ***

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