The Evil of Frankenstein is probably the least honest of any Hammer Frankenstein film, DAVID SAUNDERSON writes
The Evil of Frankenstein is probably the least honest title of any Hammer Frankenstein film.
If anything, it should be called The Contributory Negligence of Frankenstein because acts of evil by the Baron are few and far between in this none-the-less engaging 1964 Hammer Horror.
Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) returns to his castle in Karlstadt when he needs to make some quick cash by selling off his family’s valuable artwork. But when he arrives, he discovers the Burgomeister who banished him from his home town for his original acts of medical wickedness has looted the place and left the castle as an empty ruin.
To cut a long story short, the Baron gets stroppy about this, causes a ruckus and must hide in the mountains where he discovers his Creature (Kiwi Kingston), who has been preserved in ice. Despite reviving the man-made monster, the Baron is able to get him to wake up and must use the talents of a stage hypnostist, Zoltan (played by Peter Woodthorpe) to “kick start” his brain.
Unfortunately for the Baron, honest stage hypnotists are clearly hard to find and Zoltan decides to use the creature for some burglary and murder.
It is for this reason why I think the title The Evil of Frankenstein is a little unfair. Compared to the other Hammer Frankensteins, this version of the Baron is practically angelic. He doesn’t murder anyone; he doesn’t attempt to murder anyone and his only acts of anger erupt when he discovers he’s been robbed.
Compare this to say, Curse of Frankenstein, where he murders a professor and a maid, or Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, where he commits rape, The Evil of Frankenstein is a benign nursery rhyme.
Yes, it is Baron Frankenstein’s fault for creating and reviving the creature in the first place but he goes out of his way to prevent the creature for doing bad things – which is unlike most Hammer films in general. The Evil of Frankenstein doesn’t follow on from the preceding sequel The Revenge of Frankenstein. He starts off new and there doesn’t appear to be any murder in his past.
New Zealand-born wrestler Kiwi Kingston makes a fine creature. He is sometimes too nimble when he should be more clumsy but his hulking size makes him a impressive sight as he lumbers around.
The makeup is the closest Hammer came to Universal’s Jack Pierce-Boris Karloff makeup, bar for The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) with Dave Prowse. The makeup is pretty grotesque but surprisingly, it is quite effective. The laboratory scenes also bares a resemblance to Universal’s original Frankenstein (1931) set with lots of electrical equipment the key to bringing the creature to life.
The Evil of Frankenstein isn’t quite as great as other Hammer Frankensteins – not a lot happens and the horror is rare – but it is still an interesting film if only because Peter Cushing creating life as the obsessed scientist is always worth a look.