Title: Frankenstein Created Woman
Year Released: 1967
Director: Terence Fisher
Cast: Peter Cushing, Susan Denberg, Thorley Walters
REVIEW BY ADAM SCOVELL
In spite of its b-movie title, 1967’s Frankenstein Created Woman is a surprisingly complex film that belies its obvious schlock nature. After the weaker instalment in the franchise of The Evil of Frankenstein (1964), Terence Fisher was wise to not draw attention to the chronology or the placement of his film within the series of events. Instead Frankenstein Created Woman could be set at just about any point in Hammer’s loose Frankenstein canon and is all the better for it.
This looseness begins with the film’s emphasis on a side-story rather than Frankenstein’s experiments. It opens with a great piece of drama surrounding the execution by guillotine of a drunken man who is distressed to find his son in view of his imminent death. Fast forward a few years and Hans (Robert Morris) has now grown to become a helper for Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) and Dr Hertz (Thorley Walters). Hans then falls in love with a bar owner’s disfigured daughter, Christina (Susan Denberg) and clearly is troubled by his past experiences at the guillotine. One evening, a group of three young men taunt and bully both her and her father leading to a vicious fight between them and Hans.
The sheer number of events during the film’s short running time is staggering, especially as it all seems so coherent. Hans is framed for the murder of the girl’s father and then sentenced and killed at the guillotine which leads to Christina’s suicide. All of this happens even before the actual mechanics of Frankenstein’s work have barely been touched upon. The title of the film is somewhat misleading in its Bride of Frankenstein (1935) hints. Instead, the scientist is more pre-occupied with trapping the souls of the dead and captures the souls of both Hans and Christina. However, this will be his undoing as both the souls now occupy the newly regenerated body of Christina leading to a bloody rampage of revenge killings on the three initial perpetrators.
Its narrative may sound convoluted in words but, in visuals, the film flows a lot more smoothly than most of the Hammer films that surround it. All of the events are cushioned by wonderful character moments and great scenes of dramatic tension; again going against the film’s dated title. Cushing finds a perfect partner in Thorley Walters’ Hertz and the two seem like a loveable duo of scientists almost hinting at a Holmes/Watson dynamic. The three “Droog” like characters, who are the main villains of the film, are also wonderfully slimy. Fisher creates that sense of gut-wrenching bullying perfectly mixing schoolboy mischievousness with sides of genuine malice and prejudice. They’re some of Hammer’s most unpleasant characters.
A massive step-up from the previous Frankenstein film, Frankenstein Created Woman is a far more layered and interesting film than its title implies. Containing almost all of the elements that make Hammer Horror great (including a superb score from James Bernard) it is perhaps one of the studios’ most underrated films.
ADAM SCOVELL is a music student specialising in film music. When not obsessively watching and writing about film, he can be found making short films found at www.celluloidwickerman.com