Review Date: 6/29/20
Cast: Peter Cushing, Peter Woodthorpe
"Why can't they leave me alone? Why can't they ever leave me alone?"
Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) is up to his old tricks again, stealing corpses and trying to create life in his hellish laboratory. His latest experiment is interrupted by a holy man, and he's forced to leave town before an angry mob descends upon him. Homeless and broke, he foolishly decides to return to his home town of Karlstad, which he was banished from ten years ago. His old chateau has been ransacked, but at least it provides him with a new base of operations. Then he even more foolishly brings attention to himself when he flies into a rage at discovering that the town's burgomaster possesses many of the baron's personal belongings. On the run from the police, he retreats to the hills with his assistant Hans and finds shelter with a deaf-mute beggar girl, and also discovers the corpse of his original monster frozen in ice. Acting even MORE foolishly, he brings the corpse back to his lab and tries to reanimate it. While he manages to bring the flesh back to life, the brain is dead, so he enlists the aid of carnival hypnotist named Zoltan (Peter Woodthorpe). Zoltan manages to reawaken the creature's consciousness, but it will only obey his commands. Zoltan has his own nefarious ideas for how to use the monster, which naturally clashes with Frankenstein's scientific interests. This ultimately spells doom for everyone involved, as an angry mob once again descends upon Frankenstein's lab.
It's a good looking production and Peter Cushing once again elevates the material with his poignant portrayal of a mad genius. His Frankenstein is a brilliant and sympathetic antihero whose ambition and obsession drives him to the brink of madness, and his frustrations with society are all too relatable. You want to see him succeed, but at the same time, you hope he doesn't. Unfortunately, the story is weak, and includes an extended retelling of Frankenstein's original creation, which somewhat explains how it got frozen in ice. The Zoltan angle is ridiculous and could almost be considered unintentionally funny if the actors weren't so dead serious about the mystical and seemingly supernatural powers of hypnosis. The beggar girl is an interesting addition, as she's the only one who is nice to the creature, but she's underutilized and comes across as a bit of a caricature. The visual effects are good for the most part, although the monster makeup is weak and one chromakey scene looks horribly out of place. As far as Frankenstein movies go, this one isn't particularly engaging or memorable.