Hammer showed as much blood as it wanted, pissed off censors and film critics, and inspired a whole generation to mock stereotypically stuffy English people. What’s more, the focus on the violence seemed to linger.
In the American films, whenever someone was killed, that was typically a point where the movie would fade to black or cut abruptly from it. This was mainly done to keep old women’s delicate sensibilities intact and to make sure that none of the kids who watched it decide to strangle their cousins and combine them with their other cousin’s body parts. In Curse Of Frankenstein, the motto seems to be “Blood? Hell yeah.” I’m not saying that it is anything shocking by today’s standards, but doctors have yet to invent a term for the raising of blood pressure that Christopher Lee’s hideous scars gave English people in 1957. The closest thing they’ve come to it is something called “Sudden death.”
In the Universal series, the doctor character is often just a set piece with a more-than-usual amount of dialogue that is used until the monster is revived. Here, the doctor takes center stage. Peter Cushing is a fantastic actor, and while he obviously enjoys playing the mad doctor, he never seems to go too over-the-top. Christopher Lee plays Frankenstein’s monster, and is suitably menacing, despite his relative lack of screen time. By 2012, Christopher Lee is so old that some senior citizens claim to hear him at the end of a tunnel, but in 1957, his six-foot-five, imposing frame was used to full advantage.
The make-up seen here could not be more different from the Universal creature. The Universal monster is someone you could invite to dinner after some explaining and a long speech on accepting people for their differences. Christopher Lee’s monster looks like something someone made when they mistook their How To Make People book for their How To Make Concrete book. Rounding out the rest of the cast is Hazel Court, as Victor’s bride, Elizabeth, and Robert Urquhart, as Paul Krempe, Victor’s collaborator in the career choice of faith-damning and accidental-freak-making.
It’s not a well-kept secret that I enjoy Curse Of Frankenstein far more than any of the other Frankenstein films, Universal or Hammer, besides Frankenstein Conquers The World, because of the obvious, giant monster-related reasons. I would say that this film is damn near perfect, and that’s only halfway because I’m biased. Though it’s not as terrifying now as it might have been to audiences in ’57, it is incredibly fun, well-paced, and well made. The only other film that comes close to it in the Hammer line is Frankenstein Created Women, and that’s because Susan Denberg is so hot that she makes erections in movie theaters un-weird and completely justified.