The Curse Of Frankenstein (UK 1957)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 6/26/10
Director: Terence Fisher
Cast: Peter Cushing, Robert Urqohart, Hazel Court, Christopher Lee

The first of Hammer's Universal monster remakes and one of Peter Cushing's most memorable roles. The film was also responsible for putting Hammer on the map as a major player in the horror film genre. Taking inspiration from Mary Shelley's original novel, "The Curse Of Frankenstein" follows the brilliant Victor Von Frankenstein's descent into madness as he and his partner Paul Krempe (Robert Urqohart) unlock the secret of life and learn how to revive dead tissue. Paul eventually quits in disgust when Victor proposes to construct an artificial man, and pleads for him to abandon his evil quest. But Victor builds the creature anyway, with tragic and horrific consequences. Or does he? The surprise ending leaves the film open to interpretation, and questions whether Frankenstein is the brilliant scientist that he claims to be, or a deluded madman.

A fantastic looking production with a stellar cast and superb direction. Peter Cushing has never been more sinister, and he tears into his role with wicked glee. Robert Urqohart does an excellent job as the reluctant friend and the voice of reason. His relationship with Victor is strained, but true and deep. Hazel Court offers up cleavage as the baron's neglected fiancée, but otherwise has little to do. And then there's Christopher Lee who plays the creature. He does a wonderful job combining rage and raw strength with innocence, humility, and sympathy. Utterly delightful. The film also features some shocking blood and gore for the time, which stirred up controversy and ultimately contributed to its long term success. Definitely a must-see for fans of classic horror.