The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)
Dir: Terence Fisher.
Escaping execution, Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) starts a new life as 'Dr Stein' and becomes a successful Doctor, with his private surgery and also a hospital for the cities poor and homeless (who he coldly uses to provide parts for his continuing experiments in creating a Human)....
The second in the Hammer 'Frank' series is a faster moving film than the first, with slightly more gore in the limb/surgery sequences, but still stuck with that 'filmed play' static direction and camera set-ups.
It was nice to have the story carry on Directly from "Curse
of Frankenstein", with the Baron supposedly going to his death via
the guillotine, but exactly how he pulled off his escape is sketched over and
thus confusing (the 'novel' adaptation in one of the 'Hammer Horror
Omnibus' anthologies explained this much better).
That Frankenstein now goes under the name of Dr Stein is amusing (and his false name game gets even better later. This is the 'Frankenstein' version of Alucard!), and in fact there is more black humour in this film than the first due to some of Cushing's lines (a humour that would reach it's mad, black peak in the wonderful "Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell" -"ahhhhh..Kidneys").
And Cushing is again in top form, obviously enjoying fleshing out the Baron's
personality. That Frankenstein is never lowered to the level of a pantomime
villain is praise indeed.
His assistant here, Dr Kleve (early Hammer stalwart Francis Mathews in yet another solid performance) is the polar opposite of the 'conscience' role that was given to Paul
Krempe in "Curse of..". Whereas Paul was reluctant then openly hostile to the Barons plans, Kleve is totally dedicated.
This lack of a 'moral' voice is actually refreshing after the overly preachy sequences in "Curse".
The Monster here, I think, does elicit genuine sympathy. Karl is a deformed
man who wants a new body...but when he is given it, he learns that he is just
as much a 'freak' as when he was crippled up. He is there to be stared at and
Learning this he ties to escape (and in a genuinely emotive sequence burns his old body) but finds he has now got a 'animal' rage in him (though this is never really explained except when Frankenstein says that a chimp that had a brain transplant turned cannibal - "he ate his Wife"!) and even worse his new body is twisting up into his old bodies deformities.
The 'new' Karl is well essayed (with a limited role) by Michael Gwynn..who would a few years later appear as the con artist 'Lord' in a classic episode of the BBC comedy "Fawlty Towers"!
There is also a brilliant turn by Richard Wordsworth (the doomed man/creature in Hammer's "Quatermass Xperiment") as a surly Janitor at Frankenstein's poor house surgery (where he gets his body parts from), who has some great 'sneaking around' sequences plus some wonderful bits of dialogue about cleanliness/animals and fleas!
If the 'end' of the Baron is rather limp, the coda is a sly and cheeky turn
of events. Even if it is silly (and downright impossible when it comes to his
"Revenge" is basically good solid Horror movie making all round, and which has some nice links to the first film. Links that would sadly be junked in the next 2 films "Evil of.." and "Created Woman" (though those two link at "Evil's" end and "Woman's" start), but get more on course again with "Frankenstein Must be Destroyed" and the final "Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell".