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  Revenge of Frankenstein, The How To Make A Monster
Year: 1958
Director: Terence Fisher
Stars: Peter Cushing, Francis Matthews, Eunice Gayson, Michael Gwynn, John Welsh, Lionel Jeffries, Oscar Quitak, Richard Wordsworth, Charles Lloyd Pack, John Stuart, Arnold Diamond, Marjorie Gresley, Anna Walmsley, George Woodbridge, Michael Ripper
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) has been sentenced to death at the guillotine for his crimes against nature and God, having brought a corpse back to life which went on the rampage. But nearing his place of execution, he pauses as a new plan is set in motion; everyone thinks he is now dead, including a couple of graverobbers (Lionel Jeffries and Michael Ripper) who set out to dig up and steal his fresh corpse. However, once they open the casket, they are alarmed to see that the body is not that of Frankenstein, but of the priest sent to attend his final moments - one robber flees while the other turns around to see the Baron standing over him...

And then he keels over from a heart attack, in one of a handful of blackly comic moments in this, Hammer's first sequel to The Curse of Frankenstein. With Terence Fisher directing, Jimmy Sangster on script duties and Cushing returning to the role which made him world famous, there may have been a sense of going back over familiar ground even at this stage in the series, but all concerned were so confident in their abilities that there was still much to appreciate here. It's like watching a comedian go over a classic stand up routine: you know where all the punchlines are, where the story will take you, but you enjoy it all the same.

Maybe you're simply comfortable with the Hammer style, which may seem strange for a horror movie that is intended to bring you out of your comfort zone, but it's not so surprising when you pretty much know where this is headed from the moment where we move forward three years to see the Baron, now calling himself Dr. Stein, has a thriving medical practice. So this means he has given up trying to compete with the Almighty by creating life? Some chance, as the surgery is a front for his less respectable activities, which we discover around the same time as one of the local doctors, Hans Kleve (Francis Matthews), does, after Dr Stein is investigated by the medical council.

He's investigated not because they've found out who he really is, but because he's so much more successful than they are, bringing out professional jealousy and ill-feeling. The theme of guilt is a strong one, as Frankenstein has his own secrets he'd rather were not known, but has no emotions such as remorse, merely caution about sustaining his experiments under cover of his covertness. Yet the plot works to pull him up on his hubris, doing its best to sabotage his intentions, which this time around feature a body stitched together from spare parts of his willing patients, although how willing they would be to place themselves in his care if they knew what he was doing with their bits and pieces is debatable.

The Doctor has a malformed assistant in Karl, whose brain he places in the head of his specimen (Michael Gwynn), and it all seems to be going well until Hans, who has become his eager pupil, wonders about that chimp that Frankenstein operated on: why does it eat meat? Oh, don't worry about that, quoth the scientist, he had a brain cell dislodged and turned cannibal, why, he even ate his wife! Now, most people would be concerned at how that would translate to a human, and sure enough although the new Karl starts off in perfect working order, after a tussle with a janitor he ends up with one of those broken brain cells and turns into a maniac. Cuh. The Baron, now making inroads into polite society, sees his obsessions drag him back to earth as his blase attitudes to the sacred nature of life prove his undoing, and not for the last time. Revenge is not the best of the series, but it does amuse, and even provoke in its way. Music by Leonard Salzedo.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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