This blog is a place for Me to review classic British films (in particular horror films) by Hammer, Amicus and the like. But I will occasionally branch out and review international films as these are the international counterpart to the British films, some of which will include works by American International Pictures, Mario Bava et al. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Frankenstein Created Woman


Baron Frankenstein is now experimenting into the metaphysical aspect of life, specifically the question of one's soul and it's relation to the human body. At the same time a young man (Hans) and a disfigured young woman (Christina) fall in love, all the while she is constantly bullied by three snooty upper class young men. After they get Hans framed for murder and executed, Christina kills herself. Frankenstein then comes into possession of their bodies. He repairs Christina's disfigured body and places Hans' soul into it. With a new, seductive look and the souls of both Hans and Christina they go about avenging each other by killing the three upper class men.

Frankenstein Created Woman is a 1967 Hammer production. It is the sequel to 1964's The Evil of Frankenstein. It stars Peter Cushing, Susan Denberg and Thorley Walters. It was directed by Terence Fisher. It was originally planned to be the sequel to 1958's The Revenge of Frankenstein but eventually went into production in 1966. It is one of Hammer's most critically acclaimed films. It is one of Martin Scorsese's favourite films, he even chose to show it as part of his 1987 National Film Theatre season. He was quoted as saying "If I single this one out it's because here they actually isolate the soul... The implied metaphysics are close to something sublime."

What's different about this one from all the other films in the Frankenstein series is that it's not just about science. It crosses science with religion. Frankenstein is experimenting with the transference of one's soul and it's connection to the physical body.

Another difference from other Frankenstein films is that there are two interweaving stories happening at once. Firstly, that of Baron Frankenstein and his experiments. Secondly, that of the two lovers; Hans and Christina. In fact their story seems to be more important than Frankenstein's. Obviously his is important too as it's his experiments that allow for the revenge plot but it's the story of Christina and Hans that is prominent throughout, Frankenstein's is almost a sub-plot to the love story one. They start off separate with Hans connecting the two, as he works for Frankenstein and is in love with Christina. Then about half way through the stories merge into one when Frankenstein acquires their dead bodies. Although Frankenstein is doing stuff that is key to the plot, it's still almost as if he is a secondary character featuring in a story about Hans and Christina. Which I have to say by no means is a bad thing, it's just different to the usual format and as a change spruces it up a bit and makes for a very interesting new format. This format also allows for character development of Hans and Christina, as they are the two new main characters to the series that can develop, whereas Frankenstein on the other hand doesn't have much where else to develop to as we've seen his character take centre stage for the three films prior to this one. So to have some of the individual film's characters develop is great.

Frankenstein in the court room made me chuckle for two reasons. 1. It's probably the only time he's been in court without being the one on trial. 2. He's a terrible witness, as he's being questioned about the accused (Hans) he is just idly flicking through The Bible and asking if he has to be here because he's a busy man.

When we get the reveal of Christina's new look after Frankenstein's surgery to repair her damaged body, we see that he has completely removed all evidence that she was ever disfigured, he has made her a beautiful, young woman. She doesn't even have her limp any more. What's more is that she now has blonde hair where she was once a brunette. Obviously removing her disfigurements wasn't enough, he had to dye her hair too because dying hair is a very skilled scientific process on par with plastic surgery.

In Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Frankenstein says “If I succeed this time then every sacrifice will have been worth while.” But he obviously hasn't succeeded, one reason being that he never does, his creations ALWAYS go wrong. Maybe he should go for another occupation, like a hairdresser we've all seen in this how well he dyed Christina's hair. The other reason is just looking at the “monster from hell” he obviously hasn't succeeded in creating the perfect human, his greatest achievements have been in The Revenge of Frankenstein where he created a normal looking bloke and in Frankenstein Created Woman where he made an “ugly” woman beautiful, he removed her disfigurements and her limp creating a “perfect” and beautiful woman. His skills obviously peaked with Christina because after her he just went downhill. In the next film he creates a bald man, and in the final film he creates the “monster from hell”. So look at his creations and you tell me which was the closest to a success. Bare in mind I'm talking physically because they all end up with mental problems, whether it's a damaged brain caused by a bullet or their lover's soul telling them to kill.

Frankenstein Created Woman, 1967

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, 1974

The one niggle I have with this film is the order in which Christina kills the three upper class men. Generally in revenge plots the avenger takes out the henchmen first and builds up towards a climactic finale with the head of the group. In this she kills the leader (Anton) first. Now the other two aren't henchmen, all three are of the same level, but Anton seems to be their leader. So for him to get killed off first and then the other two afterwards confused me. But it's no biggy, it doesn't spoil the film.

I really like this Hammer film. I agree with critics in that it is one of Hammer's best productions. It's one of my personal favourites along with 1958's Dracula and The Revenge of Frankenstein. I love the changes it made compared to other films in the series, the introduction of a love story that doesn't involve Frankenstein, and the fact that he isn't the main character in this film. I found it to be a very ingenious change to the usual template, and it worked. It gave new life to the Hammer format. Another thing I'll point out is that it didn't seem as violent as I would have expected for a Hammer. You don't even see the detail of Christina killing the three men, it cuts away before hand. We see a couple of decapitated heads, well the same head but at different times. But it has a great story so the lack of the usual amount of violence doesn't effect the quality of the film. On another note, I really liked the blending of science and religion in this film, where in the past they've always been about science, to bring in the aspect of one's soul and link it with science was fantastic. It's a brilliant tale of love and revenge, science and religion with a dash of murder and monsters. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is into Hammer.

Frankenstein Created Woman 5/5

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