October 20, 2012

Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

"Abetted by the elderly Dr. Hertz (Thorley Waters) and handyman Hans (Robert Morris), Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) determines that the soul does not immediately leave the body upon death, and can be transplanted from one body to another with a special apparatus he has developed."

Since "Frankenstein Created Woman" is yet another overpriced and OOP R1 DVD, I've embedded the full movie from YouTube above. It's also another old Hammer movie which you've probably seen anyway so I don't need to spend much time reviewing it.

Set in an unnamed European country (either Austria or Switzerland) during an equally difficult to pin down historical period, "Frankenstein Created Woman" is a "fantasy" movie which is more about the drama than terror.

As ever, Peter Cushing provides a lot of class as Baron Frankenstein in this huge departure from Mary Shelley's original piece of science fiction. Thorley Walters also gives an exceptionally good performance as the amusingly named Doctor Hertz. In many ways, he's channelling Nigel Bruce's bumbling Doctor Watson throughout.

The real attraction, however, is Susan Denberg as Christina who evokes sympathy right from the beginning as she hides her disfigured face with her hair. It's not enough to hide her true beauty from her lover Hans (Robert Morris) or anyone else other than three excellently played but spiteful bullies.

In fact, the cruelty which the bullies inflict on poor Christina is one of the most harrowing parts of "Frankenstein Created Woman" which deserves far more attention than I'm going to give it. Suffice it to say that "Frankenstein Created Woman" is a great piece of wish-fulfilment fantasy for those who have ever been bullied themselves. Revenge is apparently best served cold in a mended body with a transferred soul.

Even though "Frankenstein Created Woman" lapses into the usual scientific silliness about resurrecting the dead, it deals with themes of injustice and vengeance quite admirably. It also unwittingly throws up a few questions about transgender issues which I'm sure get discussed on sites with an axe to grind about such things.

"Frankenstein Created Woman" is a sparsely populated, slightly stagey, and obviously low-budget production which looks better than it should do thanks to the geniuses at Bray Studios. While it doesn't have the great atmosphere of earlier Hammer horror movies and some of the camerawork could be better, it's a kind of in the middle deal due to having a much better story.

As a big fan of Hammer horror movies, I rate "Frankenstein Created Woman" quite highly despite its rather tame exploitation scenes which in no way match up to the promotional stills. Although "Frankenstein Created Woman" is listed as "Unrated", I wouldn't class it as more than a PG-13. There isn't much gore or anything too scary about it even for children so, apart from a very minor sex scene, it's almost good wholesome family entertainment.

If you are looking for something cosy and not too extreme for Hallowe'en, you can't really go wrong with horror movies from this period. If, like me, you grew up seeing everything by Hammer and Amicus repeated ad nauseum by the BBC, you might not be quite so eager to revisit them. Trust me though, it's always worth giving them another airing if only for the pretty girls and the nostalgia.

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