The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Well, I couldn’t watch one of Hammer’s earliest productions without following it up with one of their most notorious works, could I? Every time I see this film I’m always impressed by the bang Hammer got for their buck, it somehow looks a lot more expensive than it actually was; Hammer could’ve scrimped a bit more by shooting in monochrome, I’m sure, but it wouldn’t have had the same impact (Roger Ebert calls Bonnie and Clyde a milestone in American cinema for finally showing how bloody violence can be, but Hammer had already pulled that trick a decade earlier when Christopher Lee gets shot in the head here)…¬†Curse is quick to stake out its own path compared with the Universal films, and its positioning of Frankenstein himself rather than his monster as the central figure was a smart move; plus the charater has a ruthlessness here that Colin Clive didn’t, giving the film an edge of nastiness that’s still quite bracing. Curse put Hammer on the map, gave the classic gothic horror style (and British cinema generally) the kick up the arse it was needing by 1957, and appalled critics everywhere (who would only have been more appalled by it had they known how much further the genre would go eventually). Bloody marvellous, obviously.

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