The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)

Apparently Freddie Francis didn’t really like horror films that much, which was kind of unfortunate given that horror films constituted the biggest whack of his directorial career. This particular one, though, which he only seems to have done because Terence Fisher was unavailable, actually has a certain timeliness, with all the current debate about the new Spiderman film. If people are worried that ten years isn’t long enough between Sam Raimi’s first film and this new one, they might be alarmed at Hammer “rebooting” their Frankenstein series just seven years after their first film, and this nearly half a century ago… By this time Hammer were in with Universal, so they were able to use a rather curious imitation of Jack Pierce’s monster makeup; but, as has been noted, the Universal affiliation influenced the film much more deeply, to the point where it’s far more like one of the old Universal Frankensteins in style than one of Hammer’s (cf. the similar travelling sideshow in House of Frankenstein). Alas, Kiwi Kingston—a wrestler by trade—was no Karloff, and his makeup job actually reminded me of the parodies of Karloff’s creature in Warner cartoons of the 30s/40s more than anything; otherwise I don’t think it’s that bad in and of itself. Quite like the story—the baron returns to his old stomping ground, finds his handiwork miraculously preserved (as I was saying about Universal’s style…) but needs help reviving him, unfortunately the helping hands has his own plans—and Francis films it well enough (the almost dialogue-free flashback to the creature’s making is particularly good), though it is undeniably too slow in actually getting the story underway. But I don’t think it really merits its bad reputation for the most part; not nearly Hammer’s best, but it’s at least on par with and probably better than some of the Universal horrors from the 1940s it seems to have been modelled on.

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