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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1973)

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is the last of the Hammer Horror Frankenstein films.  This time around it feels like they simply ran out of new ideas to enliven the sub-genre.  Yes, the setting is different: an insane asylum.  Yes, the monster is different: It looks like a big-lipped ape on steroids.  Yet, everything feels all too familiar and predictable.

Peter Cushing stars as Baron Victor Frankenstein who assumes the alias of Dr. Carl Victor.  Yawn.  Cushing is very thin in this film and has a very gaunt face.  However, he is still as intense as ever and carries the movie by his strong magnetic presence.  This version of Frankenstein would definitely be a lesser film without him.

The doctor's assistant, Simon, is capably played by Shane Bryant [Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, Lady Chatterley's Lover] but is almost too handsome for the role.  Considering what heinous crimes he's committing a little grittier look is definitely in order.

The special surprise is that the Monster is played by David Prowse who would go on to become a film legend as the looming Darth Vader in Star Wars IV, V and VI.  [Prowse wore the suit for the character in Star Wars while James Earl Jones supplied the voice.]  His sheer physical presence is impressive but Prowse was much better as Vader than he was as the Monster.

The usual details we've come to expect from Hammer Studios are all present in Frankenstein: gorgeous sets, nice cinematography, solid acting, and a good film score.  The problem is I just can't get too excited about it.  If you're going to remake Frankenstein [which has been done a thousand times over] you really have to bring something special to the table.  This incarnation of Frankenstein is tepid at best and, for this viewer, feels as warmed over as the Monster's corpse!

RATING: Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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