Format: DVD from Reddick Public Library through interlibrary loan on rockin’ flatscreen.
Just about everything eventually gets reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes, even a lot of older films. I haven’t ever taken the time to determine if these numbers are based on current reviewers or on reviews posted at the time of the film’s release. Regardless, all seven of the Hammer films in the Frankenstein series are reviewed there. Of these, Frankenstein Created Woman falls in the dead middle both in terms of favorable ratings and in terms of where it falls in the series. Like plenty of Hammer horror films that touch on science, the science here is what my older daughter would call loco-bananas, and that’s a part of the charm.
What we’re not going to get here is a traditional “Victor Frankenstein builds a body through graverobbing and weird science.” There are going to be some connections to that, of course, because this is a Frankenstein movie, but what’s going to happen here is less a connection of body parts into a new whole, but a connection of one dead person’s soul into a different body. Like I said, the science is loco-bananas.
We’re going to start as a man is executed by guillotine while watched by his son. We jump forward to the film’s present where that young boy is now grown. Hans (Robert Morris) works as a servant for Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) and Dr. Hertz (Thorley Walters). As this part of the film starts, we see Hans and Hertz (almost certainly not coincidentally near-homophones of “hands and hearts”) reviving Frankenstein, who has been working on a way to trap the soul after death. We learn as he is revived that he had been dead for a full hour, but his soul never left his body.
This calls for celebration, and Hans goes for a bottle of champagne. This is where we meet the rest of the important cast. The landlord/barman is Kleve (Alan MacNaughtan), whose daughter Christina (Susan Denberg) is disfigured on one side of her face and partially paralyzed. Christina is also Hans’s lover. The problem arrives when, before he can leave, three wealthy young locals (Peter Blythe, Derek Fowlds, and Barry Warren) arrive and harass Christina. A fight ensues, and eventually things are patched up, although there is a good bit of resentment.
Later that night, the three break back into the bar to steal alcohol. Kleves catches them and they beat him to death. Hans, who spent the night with Christina, is unwilling to provide himself an alibi, and so is convicted of the murder and sent to the same guillotine that killed his father. Upon the news, Christina drowns herself.
And now, finally, we get to the point of the film. With both bodies in his possession, Baron Frankenstein “grafts” Hans’s soul, which he had trapped, into Christina’s body, and revives her. He also cures her facial deformities and her partial paralysis. But, while Christina claims to have no memory of her past, it appears that Hans’s soul does have some memory of his past, and he wants revenge on the men who caused his death.
So, there’s some strange connective tissue between this film and a more traditional Frankenstein movie, but that connective tissue is pretty thin and pretty weak. It’s also very clear once things start happening that Baron Victor Frankenstein is not really the bad guy in this story. Oh, certainly he is responsible for the creation of the Christina/Hans soul bonding in one body, and that makes him at least partially responsible for what Christina/Hans does, but this is not a movie where Frankenstein is hunted down with pitchforks and torches by angry villagers. There are a few jokes about it, but Victor isn’t going to be our baddie here.
That, ultimately, might be something of the undoing of Frankenstein Created Woman. This is a film that is far more interested in the woman that Frankenstein created than it is with the doctor’s existential angst regarding the morality of creating her in the first place. That’s not necessary, of course, and Christina/Hans’s story is the interesting one, but it does feel like a little bit of a bait and switch. It’s also one of those films that ends very abruptly. It’s not overly long at 92 or so minutes, but it could have used an additional two or three minutes at the end of it to wrap things up.
I just wish the science weren’t so ridiculous. Of course, I’m going to say this about this movie because of my own opinions about the existence of a soul in general
Why to watch Frankenstein Created Woman: This is a tangentially-Frankenstein Frankenstein movie.
Why not to watch: It might set the record for goofiest Hammer horror science.
I don't think I've ever seen a film from Hammer but I want to. I heard this is a silly film but it could be worse.ReplyDelete
It's surprisingly not bad. It's not great, but it's entirely watchable.Delete