Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)

The last entry in Hammer’s legendary Frankenstein cycle by far isn’t the best one, but it probably is the most appealing chapter to enthusiast horror buffs due to the excessive use of blood and ugly make-up effects. “Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell” is the direct successor of “Frankenstein must be destroyed”, since Jimmy Sangster’s “Horror of Frankenstein” introduced a different lead-actor (Ralph Bates) and repeated the initial premise of the infamous baron. Terence Fisher’s grand finale is set entirely in a mental asylum where good old Peter Cushing continues his deviant experiments undercover. He changed his name to Dr. Viktor and receives help from a gifted new-arrival who got convicted for committing the exact same sorcery-crimes (although Frankenstein considers it science). In their private asylum-chambers, the doctors create new life using the brains and body parts of unfortunate patients of the asylum. Although good campy fun nonetheless, this film slightly disappoints compared to its predecessors. I feel like Fisher could have used the grim asylum setting much better and even Cushing’s characters isn’t as ‘evil’ as it was in the other films. Simon Helder – Frankenstein’s partner in crime – is entirely listless and Madeline Smith doesn’t do much either, aside from looking really cute. The monster doesn’t evoke feelings of fright and he actually looks more like a fugitive cast-member of the “Planet of the Apes”-series. On the other hand, you could say that this installment is one of the better since the scenery is raw and the monster is more repellent looking. There are some really nasty killings in this film and the medical experiments are extremely graphic (a gratuitous brain-transplant, anyone?). Purely talking trivia, this also is an interesting film as it was Terence Fisher’s last directing achievement. This great director easily was one of the genre’s most important icons, with on his repertoire most films of both the Frankenstein and Dracula franchises as well as some other milestones like “The Devil Rides Out” and “The Mummy”. His last film (Fisher passed away in 1980) is great entertainment and nothing more.

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