The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)

Peter Cushing, Peter Woodthorpe, Duncan Lamont, Sandor Elès, Katy Wild, David Hutcheson,
Upon returning to his home village to continue his experimental research, the destitute Dr. Frankenstein revives his old creature, but a hypnotist wants the monster to control for himself.
  • 6.0 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Anthony Hinds, Writer:
  • Freddie Francis, Director:
  • Producer:
7 / 10

The Evil of Frankenstein (1964) ***

This was the first Hammer film I ever saw, and I loved it back then on television while growing up. I'm sure the reason was because it was so much in tune with the old Universal monster films I loved, and at that time I hadn't seen any of the other British Frankensteins so I couldn't have been aware that EVIL wasn't really a true "Hammer" film. Well, sometimes ignorance is bliss, I think. Because ever since I caught up with all the other Peter Cushing Frankensteins, I gradually became clued in as to why so many diehards shunned EVIL. But that's a shame, really, as THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN is a fine horror film in its own right and one of the more underrated monster films in fandom. Last night I had a friend at the house who's a Universal Fan, and he wanted to see his first Hammer Frankenstein film. So, what better choice than EVIL? But here's the thing with movies -- sometimes it all depends on your mood and the situation surrounding you when you watch them. The last time I had watched this movie, it didn't do as much for me; but now - while taking it for what it is and enjoying it with a fellow Universal fan - the film really delivered! Peter Cushing is still great in EVIL. Sure, he's not playing the character exactly the same as in the other films, but it's refreshing to see him more heroic than usual, and it's not as though he's a total saint either (he does take a freshly dead man and cut out his heart, for crying out loud). There are small moments of indifference, too - such as when the mute peasant girl offers bread to Cushing and his assistant, Hans -- while Hans takes the trouble of saying, "thank you... but have you enough for yourself?" Baron Frankenstein takes his half without a word of gratitude and instead merely mutters to Hans, "she can't hear you". Terence Fisher is a good director, but I think Freddie Francis does a fantastic job too on THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN (and, later, on Dracula HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE). The laboratory is the best of all the films, and there are many neat cinematic touches -- like the grim shadowplay when the creature is stalking around town, and the monster's POV shot as he is first being raised up from his slab. The music is striking too, on par with just about any other Hammer classic. It accentuates the events of the movie very well. Kiwi Kingston makes a formidable hulking monster, and there are times when I even pitied him (it's rough to see him getting those migraines and to be abused by that hypnotist). The only things weak about EVIL for me are some of the moments where we are at the fair, though once Peter Cushing crashes the Burgomaster's home to claim his property ("Be quiet, woman!!" - I love that! - ) we're back into high gear. Another debit for the movie is that its script seems a little perfunctory at times. In summary -- taken on its own without carping on what this isn't and enjoying it for what riches are to be found within it, THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN can be a fun and satisfying experience as a stand-alone Frankenstein Film. *** out of ****

5 / 10

Another underrated film

MORD39 RATING: **1/2 out of **** This was the first Hammer film I recall seeing as a kid, and I loved it back then. I am, admittedly, a Universal Horror addict and most probably enjoyed it because it was so much in that vein. Now, decades later, I understand why Hammer fans dislike it: it's not what the Hammer Frankenstein series is supposed to be. Now that I've become well acquainted with all of the Hammer films I am inclined to agree somewhat...but it's still pretty good. Peter Cushing is his reliable self as the Baron, and he seems to be given a more heroic twist this time around. The monster is not up to par, and it IS copied from the Karloffian image to some extent, but he's fun anyway. The lab sets are fantastic, as is the music and gothic atmosphere. You can do much worse than this for a Hammer Frankenstein film (check out HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN and see).

5 / 10

A mysterious addition

This film appeared from no-where. It did not follow from The Revenge of Frankenstein, which had immediately preceded it, and the next film in the series, Frankenstein Created Woman, makes no mention of this film. This is a one-off film in the Hammer Frankenstein saga much in the same way that Scars of dracula is a one-off in the Dracula saga. For once, the story is rather flimsy, and the characters fail to build any pathos with the audience. The acting is good, but has no-where to go. It seems to be a remake of any number of Universal horror films rather than an original Hammer film. The direction is rather flat and the monster is just some monolithic doomsday machine running around, destroying everything. On the plus side, the atmosphere is suitably gothic and the costumes are realistic. It is, however, the least best Frankenstein film featuring peter Cushing.

8 / 10

The evil Baron is back again!

If you ask me, Hammer's Frankenstein series is vastly superior to the Dracula series; and films like this one show why! Actually, Evil of Frankenstein is probably the weakest entry of the great series; but even on a bad day, Hammer can produce the goods, and this film certainly does everything that you would expect a Hammer Frankenstein flick to do. This is something of an odd entry in Hammer's Frankenstein series, however, as the character of Frankenstein (ironically) is far less evil than in previous and later films. The scene in which the monster is let loose and Frankenstein worriedly exclaims that the village is under threat says it all. This contradiction does bring the film down somewhat, but it doesn't harm it as much as it could have done because the distinct Hammer style is always on hand to save the day. The plot picks up after the events of The Revenge of Frankenstein, and we follow the wicked Baron as he makes his way back to his family castle. He soon finds one of his previous creatures perfectly preserved in ice, but there's a problem with the brain and Frankenstein has to recruit stage hypnotist Zoltan to bring him round. However, Zoltan has his own ideas about the creature's future... The Hammer Frankenstein movies, especially the earlier ones, tend to follow something of a set plot; i.e. Frankenstein builds a monster, then the monster destroys everything. This film follows that plot, but as ever; enough is added to ensure that the action is never monotonous. Peter Cushing reprises his role as the title character brilliantly once again. As far as I'm concerned, there's only one Baron Frankenstein - and that's Peter Cushing. Nobody has ever - or will ever again - be able to bring what this great actor brings to the role. I'm sure that this part would be his favourite too, as it's always obvious that he enjoys playing the Baron. His persona lends itself brilliantly to this role, and that is much of the reason why the series is so successful. The monster on display this time is the most disgusting of the entire series. The make-up is repulsive and the creature really does look like it's been encased in ice for years. It is worth noting, however, that the creature in this film is the closest to the classic Frankenstein's Monster of James Whale's Frankenstein films. Overall, this film might not do much for you if you aren't a fan of Hammer/the Frankenstein series - but if you are...you know you should be seeing this film!

7 / 10

A grisly homage to Universal

Having been exiled from Karlstaad, and with their creature gunned down on a mountaintop, The Evil Of Frankenstein opens with a now skint Baron (Cushing) and his apprentice Hans (Eles) moping around the forests like a Gothic Steptoe and Son, half-heartedly yanking the odd corpse out of huts, before being sent packing by another set of disgusted locals. The Baron has no choice but to creep back into town and retrieve his equipment to flog it off. To add insult, Castle Frankenstein has been looted and defaced with noosed effigies. "Why can't they leave me alone?" sighs Victor. It's all a bit much. To cheer themselves up, the pair attend a travelling carnival disguised in facemasks like Batman and Robin. Victor spots a familiar face in the crowd: "Well, well, well, my old friend the Burgomaster. Now he's chief of police. Easy to see how he got his promotion!" And he's wearing the Baron's ring. Not only that, he's now in possession of Victor's clothes, his chairs, his desk - "Even my bed!" Frankly, the pair need a positive: as luck has it, a deaf and dumb Bjork look-alike leads them to a cave, where they discover the perfectly preserved body of the creature in a glacier. Like Vernon Kay, "he's alive, but his brain is dormant," the result of being shot in the head in the previous film. The Baron hires the carnival's dodgy mesmerist Zoltan (Woodthorpe) to try to bring it out of its coma. Like some faithless pet cat who decides it's getting tastier treats from the old lady next door, the creature ignores the Baron, and will now only take orders from Zoltan. However, the bequiffed ageing wideboy has his own plans for the screeching lunk. "There are people in this village I want punished," he huffs. Not being up to speed with the finer points of semantics, the monster stomps off in its corrective boots to rip the Burgomaster a new one. Job done, it returns home, gets drunk, screeches a bit more, and goes for a lie down. Yet despite giving him life, the monster in no way considers the Baron his besht fuggin' mate. Then, as if suddenly collapsing under the weight of its own misery, the film ends very abruptly. Directed by cameraman Freddie Francis, after Hammer's Terence Fisher bailed out following a car accident, The Evil Of Frankenstein is generally regarded by horror buffs to be the series' nadir, in part owing to the monster's laughable visage, which resembles a man wearing a rotting box of cornflakes on his head. (Ironic, given that this incarnation's appearance was made possible by the film's distributor Universal relaxing their copyright on Jack Pierce's flat-headed design for Boris Karloff.) But mostly, because it treats the continuity laid down by the previous movie with the same kind of respect the Baron has for dead people. In The Revenge Of Frankenstein, the Baron had succeeded in creating a reasonably human-looking monster, before it was shot; was himself beaten to death by an angry mob for his groundbreaking contribution to genetics; and was then privately resurrected by his apprentice Hans. Here, there's no mention of the Baron's life-and-death experience; the creature (the delightfully named Kiwi Kingston) looks nothing like its forebear; and Hans appears to have downsized his IQ in the interim. The locals have also apparently forgotten they've actually killed him and instead merely run him out of Karlstaad on a rail. It's the Sliding Doors of horror threequels. Despite this wild shift in text and focus (a consequence of Hammer producer Tony Hinds replacing the usual Frankenstein writer Jimmy Sangster), The Evil Of Frankenstein is quite fun in its doggedly depressing way, and for a film made in 1964, surprisingly modern; this is practically a punk movie, with its nihilistic tone, a monster that elicits not the slightest shred of sympathy, and tombstone humour at odds with the melodramatic origins. "Cut out his heart?" gasps the Baron's hired grave robber. "Why not?" comes the reply. "He has no further use for it." For a relatively bloodless series, the violence (check out the scene where the foul creature attacks and kills the Burgomaster in his own bedroom) is certainly more than you'd expect from this era of Hammer, and indeed certain scenes were replaced or re-shot for its 1968 television showing. And as you'd imagine, with the award-winning Freddie Francis directing proceedings, the cinematography is first rate. Really, it's a one-off, standing quite apart from the cycle, and none the worse for it.