Monday, 10 March 2014

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Hammer’s seminal Frankenstein movie is just as much a departure from Mary Shelly’s novel as the Universal “classic”, but for me it doesn’t grate half as much.  That’s not to say there aren’t departures from the text or silly points in the plot, but at least there are no huge leaps or ridiculous name changes, and it starts with the right idea of Victor telling someone about his terrible deeds.

At the heart of it all is a, yet again, superb Peter Cushing as Victor Frankenstein; and in particular his banter with Robert Urqhuart’s Paul Krempe is excellent.  Unfortunately Hazel Court’s Elizabeth is rather a wet fish; your usual Hammer damsel, rather than the relatively strong character she should be.  Christopher Lee is good as the creature, though as he is silent (like Boris Karloff’s monster), it’s hard to fully appreciate him.  Strangely when we first see the creature, he looks more like Al Pacino than Christopher Lee!  Even the young Frankenstein (not the Gene Wilder one; he actually looks a bit like Armando Ianucci) is actually very entertaining, it’s a shame there isn’t more of him.

The Curse of Frankenstein is very well paced, packing in enough plot while still allowing Cushing and Lee to chew the scenery (if a mute part can chew scenery).  While not the whole story and not a patch on Danny Boyle’s stage production, Hammer’s version is very entertaining and very watchable thanks to the strong main cast.  But, well, you know, that’s just, like, er, my opinion, man.