The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)

Rating: C

Dir: Freddie Francis
Star: Peter Cushing, Sandor Eles, Peter Woodthorpe, Katy Wild

“He has a good brain and excellent eyes. I won’t tell you where I got them, but I assure you they are perfect.” Only Peter Cushing could manage to deliver that line – which appears to have strayed in from Young Frankenstein – with perfect comic timing, yet also make work the Baron’s mournful plea, “Why can’t they leave me alone? Why can’t they ever leave me alone?” Despite this evidence of Cushing’s immaculate range, the film itself is a disappointment. Most of it takes place in and around Karlstaad, a town from where the Baron was driven previously. He returns there, having also being dispatched from another town, because he hopes to sell his possessions and regroup, only to find they were “confiscated” by local authorities. Although he locates his creation, frozen in a nearby glacier and opts to set up shop again, the brain remains inanimate. He recruits hypnotist Professor Zoltan (Woodthorpe), to re-activate the monster’s brain, but his new accomplice decides to use it for his own, less academic purposes, of robbery and revenge.

While Cushing is, as noted, his usual fine self, the rest of the film isn’t up to the same standard. There’s too much concentration during the first-half on the mechanics of the re-animation, Frankenstein and his sidekick (Eles) running about their laboratory, flipping switches. Then, it diverts later into the hijacking of the monster by Zoltan, which is not really very interesting either. The script basically throws out the window all the events of the previous Frankenstein Hammers, and the make-up job looks like Boris Karloff undergoing a poorly-executed facial [not the only aspect so borrowed, which may be connected to the then-close ties between Hammer and Universal]. Truth be told, there is precious little “evil of Frankenstein” to be seen here – it’s clearly Zoltan who is the bad guy, and he’s not an adequate focus. Frankenstein is largely relegated to the sidelines until the ending, which must have disappointed the torch-wielding mob as much as it disappointed me. Possibly the weakest of Hammer’s Frankenstein efforts.

[Also starring: Woodthorpe provided the voice of Gollum, both in Ralph Bakshi’s animated film and the BBC radio version of Lord of the Rings.]