on December 30, 2003
Though their reign as the Empire of British horror had surely diminished by the time of its release in 1974, Hammer Film's FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL marked a return to their familiar gothic traditions. Not only did it mark the last performance of the gaunt and fancy-wigged Peter Cushing in his most famous role of Baron Frankenstein, it was also the last film directed by Terence Fisher, the man who pretty much made the series his own. Also back were Anthony Hinds doing the writing choirs (under his "John Elder" pen name), composer James Bernard, and a bevy of familiar Hammer supporting players (Patrick Troughton, Charles Lloyd Pack, Peter Madden, Sydney Bromley, etc.).
The plot has Simon Helder (Shane Briant), a young doctor inspired by the work of Victor Frankenstein, being sent to an asylum for practicing "sorcery." There he meets Dr. Carl Victor (Cushing), who apparently harbors secret information on the underhanded director Klauss (John Stratton), and is able to run the place his own way. Young Helder quickly realizes that Dr. Victor is actually Baron Frankenstein, who wants the outside world to believe he is dead. Helder knows that Frankenstein could never give up his experiments, so after doing some snooping, he discovers his secret laboratory and his latest project.
The Baron's new experiment is the hulking, ape-like Herr Schneider (David Prowse), a homicidal inmate whom Frankenstein has kept alive after a violent suicide attempt and has grafted on the hands of a recently deceased sculptor (Bernard Lee). Since Frankenstein's hands were badly burnt in the name of science, the shabby stitch-work was done by Sarah (Madeline Smith), a beautiful mute girl who is nicknamed "Angel" who assists him. When Simon tells the Baron that he is a surgeon, the problem is solved. Soon new eyes and a new brain are given to the creature (allowing this to be a gorefest as far as Hammer is concerned), but he ultimately runs amuck in the asylum.
Filmed in late 1972, Hammer's final Frankenstein entry is one of those films that has divided appreciation among fans, some who think it's masterful and others who deem it a low point. The ultra low budget does show in Scott MacGregor's claustrophobic sets, unconvincing miniatures, and the monster's get-up is obviously a pull-over mask designed by Eddie Knight (though the monster is unique in the annals of Frankenstein cinema). But Fisher's direction and Cushing's consummate performance (adding complete madness this time to the character) display a true dedication to this kind of cinema, and the confinement of the asylum only adds to the doomed, somber mood. Prowse, who essayed the role of the monster in HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN, is able to give the part some empathy--more so than any other Frankenstein monster in the Hammer camp. FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL may be nothing groundbreaking, but it's certainly entertaining and a worthy end to an important chapter in British horror.
It's great to see that Paramount is the latest studio to unleash Hammer films on to the DVD market, but they have released the R-rated U.S. theatrical version which is missing some scenes only found thus far on an atrocious-looking Japanese laserdisc release from the early 90s. The footage not found on this DVD is as follows (those who haven't seen the film may want to view it first before reading this, as I'll reveal some plot points): a few seconds of a sequence where the Baron damns his useless hands and grasps an artery from the monster's wrist with his teeth, followed by his rinsing his mouth out with water; when Briant inserts the monster's eyeball, and Cushing says, "Pop it in," a brief side view of this procedure is replaced in the American version with a reaction shot of Madeline Smith; a second split-second shot of Bernard Lee's character's handless arms in his open coffin (looks to be the same exact brief shot as the first, so perhaps the Japanese just wanted to repeat the bloody sight); after the asylum director has his throat mutilated by the monster, the gushing of blood that comes from his neck is a split-second longer on the Japanese version, and; a few seconds more of the inmates tearing apart the monster during the climax, most notably missing in action is a shot where his guts are being squashed by someone's feet.
Quite simply, Paramount went back to the original negative for this transfer, and these scenes were never meant (or were demanded to be censored) for the U.S. version. Getting past that, Paramount's DVD of FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL looks terrific, and far better than ever before. The film is nicely presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. As usual, the studio has done an excellent transfer. Sharpness and detail are very solid, and dark scenes that were once hard to make out are now clear as day. The print source is free of any major blemishes, and the somewhat subdued (for Hammer) colors appear greatly corrected, as do the various fleshtones. The audio is the original mono--there is some audible hiss present, but dialogue is generally clear and James Bernard's score is adequately robust. Optional English subtitles are also included.
The DVD has one extra feature (no trailer), and it's big one. A running audio commentary with actress Madeline Smith (Sarah) and actor David Prowse (the monster) moderated by genre historian Jonathan Sothcott. The commentary is rather energetic and quite funny, as both actors are never at a loss for words or a story to tell. They have plenty to say about the film, Cushing, Fisher, and the other players--which eventually leads to anecdotes about some of the other films of the period that they were involved in. This is very fun stuff, remaining interesting until the end, and you'll hear a lot of scoops you've probably never heard before in written interviews.
on September 27, 2004
The first film I ever saw in Hammer Studio's Frankenstein series was also the very last, which I feel is a terrible shame, as this was a very good movie. While Hammer's Dracula films drastically revamped themselves twice over the course of their last three films, the Frankenstein series, which was running simultaneously, did it once and even then only partially (by doing no more than cast a younger actor as Dr. Frankenstein). So we have Peter Cushing returning for one final time, after a one-film break with the new guy, in the role of the good doctor, where we get to see him act with Darth Vader three years before the making of "Star Wars" (David Prowse, the man in the Darth Vader suit, is the monster in this one). And I'm glad that Cushing came back, because his performance is what makes this movie so great.
Rather than discuss plot points, as I'm sure you by now have a fairly vague idea of what to expect from this series (though I would like to mention that we get to see the second Doctor Who, Patrick Troughton, as a grave robber at the beginning of the movie), I would instead like to discuss Dr. F, because the character absolutely fascinates me ... especially in this particular film. Here we have a true monster, far worse than any undead beast he could ever bring back to life. Dr. F cares for absolutely nothing but his work ... not only does he have no second thoughts when it comes to disturbing graves, but he goes so far as to see the living as nothing more than potential materiel for his experiments. Witness the casual way he speaks of the patient he prompted to commit suicide (without ever explicitly stating his intention, but by leaving for the patient to read such depressing news that he knew exactly how the patient would react). When I first saw this scene, together with the final one, when Dr. F speaks optimistically about "the next time", I shared completely the shock, dismay, and revulsion felt by our young protagonist, Dr. Helder (Shane Bryant), as he realizes that the man whose work he'd dedicated his studies to and who(m) he'd idolized is so completely inhuman beneath his appearance and kindly manner, so totally obsessed with his life's work that nothing else matters at all, not even his own creations.
Dr. Frankenstein is amoral ... he does whatever he feels is necessary for his experiment to succeed, and hasn't a single care when those actions bring harm or death, let alone anxiety, to anyone else. And yet while certainly not a "good" man, the wicked acts which Dr. F commits are not motivated by malice or a desire to harm ... He's simply so completely blinded by the world of science that it's impossible for him to think in any other way. This makes him, for me at least, one of the most frightening characters in the whole realm of Horror ... a totally conciousless scientist, fanatically devoted to his work and more brilliant than we can even try to imagine. From the films I've seen, I don't believe that any of them give a better, more thought-provoking portrait of the character than this one, without having to rely on any of the films which came before.
"Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell", in spite of suffering from such an awful title, is a wonderfully intelligent and intriguing, visually striking (I love the dreary hallways of the mental institution, as well as the shots of the creature in the graveyard at night), and very well acted indeed. Peter Cushing is one of my favorite actors, and here he certainly doesn't disappoint. Do yourself a small act of kindness and pick up a copy of this DVD today, and then watch it tonight after the lights are out. I think you'll have a marvelous, though somewhat unsettling, time ...
This film will entertain you, but it will also make you think. Definitely five-star material.
Carry on Carry on
During the late 1950s, all of the 1960s, and the early part of the 1970s, Hammer Studios, a British film production company, made several successful horror movies featuring the famous and popular monsters from successful American films of the 1930s and 1940s. Characterized by gothic sets, exaggerated color, lots of blood, and lots of female cleavage, the MOST successful of these included a film series featuring Dracula and a series based on the Frankenstein mythos.
Though generally low-budget productions, most of the Hammer films in the Frankenstein series were well made and were favorably received by horror fans in both Britain and the United States. The last in this series, FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL, is certainly not the best of the lot, but it is an entertaining movie that has many notable qualities.
The script can admittedly be a bit tasteless at times, but it is nonetheless quite literate. It regards the good Doctor (Peter Cushing) not as a comical mad scientist, but instead as an intelligent, educated man who is so driven in his quest for medical knowledge that he has no regard for the feelings or needs of others. Selfish and egoistic, to be sure, but not insane. This point is emphasized by the story setting--an insane asylum of the Victorian era. Though Doctor Frankenstein was committed to the hospital as a resident by the English courts, he has since wrested control away from the inept administrator and hence runs the place by proxy. Of course, with such a stable of raw material at his disposal, the good Doctor has resumed his research into the reassembling and re-animation of the dead.
As in the other such Hammer films, Peter Cushing does a very effective job as the driven and heartless Doctor Frankenstein. Along with fellow thespian Christopher Lee--who generally played the titular character in Hammer's Dracula movies--Cushing was at the forefront of the Hammer stable of actors, but American moviegoers will more readily recognize him from his role as Grand Moff Tarkin in 1977's sci-fi blockbuster STAR WARS. (The actor who played the monster in this film, David Prowse, also had a part in STAR WARS. Prowse was behind the mask of Darth Vader, though it was an American actor, James Earl Jones, who gave voice to the evil ex-Jedi.)
Shane Briant is also quite good as the Doctor's medical protégé, and fans of British science fiction will be delighted by the cameo appearance of Patrick Troughton, who portrayed the second incarnation of titular character on the long-running TV series DOCTOR WHO. (Interestingly, Peter Cushing also once portrayed The Doctor in two theatrical movies based on the TV show.)
Beautiful and buxom dark-haired actress Madeline Smith turns in a very affecting performance as a mute asylum resident who also assists Doctor Frankenstein in his ghastly experiments. Ardent fans of James Bond movies will recognize her from her role as Miss Caruso in the 1973's LIVE AND LET DIE. Bond fans should also recognize Bernard Lee, who had a recurring role in the venerable spy movies as M, James Bond's enigmatic boss. In FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL, Lee has a minor part as one of the asylum residents.
Under normal circumstances, this film would receive a four-star rating. However, some of the gorier scenes that were cut for the original American theatrical release are also missing from the DVD release--a real no-no for serious film collectors. For example, there is a scene where Frankenstein, his hands damaged by a lab accident (depicted in an earlier Hammer film), literally bites down on a vein or artery to halt blood flow while his protégé sutures another part of the monster's body. With the scene cut, the two medical men discuss a problem with the suturing procedure, they move to begin the stitching, then it cuts to Frankenstein wiping his mouth with a handkerchief as he sardonically states to his assistant something like, "You see, I told you there is always a way around any problem." This creates a bit of confusion for the viewer, and for this cumbrous "amputation" of such scenes, the DVD receives only three stars.
Overall, FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL will prove to be a fun and satisfying flick for longtime horror fans, but the general moviegoing audience my find it somewhat unpalatable.
on March 24, 2014
Hammer Studios did 7 Frankenstein films from the late 50s to early 70s:
1. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
2. The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)
3. The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)
4. Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
5. Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)
6. The Horror of Frankenstein (1970)
7. Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1973)
Peter Cushing played Baron Frankenstein in every one of these except "The Horror of Frankenstein." The reason being "Horror" was a remake of the original story and they needed a much younger actor to play the role; they chose Ralph Bates (who superbly played the love-to-hate OTT satanist in "Taste the Blood of Dracula," released the same year).
Anyway, "Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell" was the last hurrah for the series. THE PLOT: A young doctor, Simon Helder (Shane Briant), is fascinated by Frankenstein's works and gets sentenced to an asylum for practicing sorcery. There he meets the thought-to-be-dead Baron Frankenstein, now going by the name Dr. Victor (Cushing), and they team-up to carry on his gruesome work, creating -- you guessed it -- a monster from hell!
This is an unmistakable Hammer film and solid Gothic chiller, but it's held back by a simplistic plot and dreary ambiance. The story lacks the fascinating and innovative approach of the two previous films, "Frankenstein Created Woman" and "Frankenstein Must be Destroyed," which represent the best of the series. Furthermore, the setting of the story is too one-dimensional, basically being limited to the asylum, which adds to the dreariness. Speaking of which, the film lacks the bright colors usually associated with Hammer horror. The drab palate of the cinematography does up the ante of the Gothic atmosphere, but it'll likely disappoint those expecting the lushness of typical Hammer horror.
On the plus side, the creature looks seriously bestial and is formidable, played by David Prowse, aka Darth Vader of the first three Star Wars flicks. The monster also evokes a good amount of pathos. Another plus is the beautiful Madeline Smith of "Live and Let Die" fame, who plays the Baron's mute assistant, Sarah.
The story is basically a drama with horror trappings so those expecting the overt horror antics of most slasher films will be let down.
BOTTOM LINE: "Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell" is a solid Hammer horror film and a fine way to end their Frankenstein series, but it lacks the color and pizazz of the previous two installments. As such, it's overall mediocre.
The film runs 99 minutes and was shot at EMI Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England.
on November 10, 2013
Last night I watched 'Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell'. It's currently available for free viewing to Amazon Prime Members.
Warning the following contains plot spoilers
'FatMfH' is probably my least favorite of the Hammer Frankenstein series. I believe it was also the last in the series. I'm not saying it's a bad film. In fact I did enjoy it. I just didn't enjoy it as much as some of the other Hammer Frankenstein films featuring Mr. Cushing. You really can't go wrong when you combine the acting of Peter Cushing with the direction of Terence Fisher. I believe this was the last feature film that Mr. Fisher directed and the last time that Peter Cushing played the Baron in the series. It had all the charm of a typical Hammer production with Mr. Fisher at the helm, wonderfully realistic characters, fine acting, and the sort of period colorful atmosphere Hammer excelled at. The film did drag slightly at times, fortunately Peter Cushing and the other lead Shane Briant more than made up for that. My major complaint about the film is the poor makeup on the monster. It looked very phony to me, sort of a cross between a costume store gorilla suit that was losing it's hair and a neanderthal man. The monsters bare chest and back looked too much like a Halloween costume and not realistic. To me it was only a few steps up from the look of the comical gorilla like aliens in 'Robot Monster'. In spite of that I still enjoyed the film. It was a scary enough looking creation not to ruin the fun. The story did manage to show just how cruel Mr. Cushing's Dr. Frankenstein really was beneath his gentleman like facade. For instance he stated he did not want to murder an insane genius in order to use the poor man's brain for his creature. Still he didn't mind setting up a situation where the disturbed man was bound to commit suicide. Frankenstein then took his brain with a clear, if sick, conscious. Also, Frankenstein was willing to sexually sacrifice his gentle female assistant, Angel, to the monster for the sake of his experiment. It was both chilling and sad to see the disturbed genius who had killed himself wake up with his consciousness inside the body of a hideous monster. The poor man was bemoaning his plight saying over and over 'why why why....'. He had wanted to die and instead was doomed to this life instead, thanks to the cruelness of Frankenstein. At one point he even dug up his old body and looked at it face-to-face. This reminded me of a similar and memorable scene from an earlier Hammer Frankenstein film.
In conclusion this film is well worth seeing and was almost a fitting end to the Hammer Frankenstein series. Fans of Peter Cushing and Terence Fisher should not be disappointed. I give it a 3 out of 5 stars.
Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell was not famed Hammer Studios' final film, but it in many ways represents the swan song of the premiere maker of vintage gothic films. Not only does the film play well even today, it has an incredible number of fascinating facts surrounding its production that makes it particularly notable. Consummate actor Peter Cushing and director Terence Fisher can be viewed as founding fathers of Hammer Studios, and this film marks a return to the spirit of the early days. It stands as the final entry in the famed Frankenstein series starring Peter Cushing as Dr. Frankenstein, and David Prowse makes an unprecedented second appearance as a Hammer monster. Some wonderful actors appear in even the smallest of roles, the overall look and feel of the film is wonderfully dark and serious, and the story is allowed to tell itself, foregoing sex appeal for violence and intellectual passion. Despite its almost ridiculously paltry budget, Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell truly shines as Hammer's last truly gothic motion picture.
Baron Frankenstein is dead; there's a death certificate to prove it, and he's buried in the yard of the insane asylum where he spent his last days. One young researcher sets out to fill his shoes, however, eventually being arrested for "sorcery" and consigned to the same mental institution as his idol. Simon Helder (Shane Briant) inquires about Dr. Frankenstein as soon as he arrives. The story of the Baron's death notwithstanding, he quickly recognizes the asylum's Dr. Victor as none other than Frankenstein himself. Assisted by the mute and ever so lovely Sarah (Madeline Smith), known as Angel among the inmates, the doctor has continued his work. He explains to young Dr. Helder how he managed to "kill" Frankenstein and get himself appointed the medical doctor in the asylum, and soon the ever-curious Helder is an active participant in the doctor's ongoing unconventional medical experiments. Rather than resurrect the dead, Frankenstein is now working on making a new man piece by piece based on an existing flawed creation. With the help of Helder's surgical skills, the men have soon given an animalistic misanthrope the hands of a craftsman and the mind of a genius, but of course the newly created monster seems less than overjoyed with his new life.
I am an unabashed fan of Peter Cushing; he was the ultimate gothic actor, a meticulous perfectionist who demanded the serious commitment of everyone surrounding him on whatever project he was working on. In Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell, he makes one of his most memorable entrances and delivers a sterling performance. At this particular time, Cushing was in deep mourning over the recent loss of his wife, and he is as grim and emaciated as you will ever see him. This makes his obviously whole-hearted commitment to this role all the more amazing. This sixth and final Hammer-produced Frankenstein film offers yet more proof that Peter Cushing is the greatest horror actor to ever live. Madeline Smith is just beautiful and delivers an amazing performance almost wholly devoid of spoken lines, and Shane Briant, looking quite James Spader-like, makes young Helder an admirable and deserving new underling of Dr. Frankenstein's. The monster is played wonderfully by David Prowse, the man who would later serve as the man behind the mask of Darth Vader; his costume isn't that impressive, but it works well given the budgetary constraints this movie operated under. Doctor Who fans will no doubt note the presence of Patrick Troughton as Helder's bodysnatching accomplice at the beginning of the film; Troughton would of course go on to become the second man to play Doctor Who on the famed BBC television series.
Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell is vintage Hammer horror, a really quite extraordinary achievement given the monetary and personal constraints the production faced. Terrence Fisher and Peter Cushing make an unbeatable combination, even when both men are laboring under heavy burdens of their own. The DVD comes with a commentary by actress Madeline Smith, actor David Prowse, and horror historian Jonathan Sothcott, and this commentary ranks among the best and most interesting I have ever heard. The trio expound upon all types of things, oftentimes going beyond the subject of the film itself to relate fascinating stories about their fellow performers and about the very history of Hammer Studios as well. All of this adds up to a film that all Hammer fans simply must own.
on January 18, 2014
This is a technical review for the 'Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1973) (Frankenstein & the Monster from Hell) (Blu-Ray & DVD Combo) [Blu-Ray, Reg. A/B/C Import - Australia]': a 2013 Australian release on the SHOCK label.
A sticker on the front of the case reads, "Special Edition Blu-Ray Disc & DVD Video Double Play × Fully Restored on Blu-Ray for the first time".
The "Duration" (running time) is erroneously listed as 99 minutes...the actual runtime is 90 minutes.
It is presented in a 1.66:1 screen format with Mono 2.0 sound in the English language. There are no subtitles.
Not only does this release contain the UNCUT version of the film in all of its vein chomping, eyeball reinsertion and monster shredding glory, it also contains a commentary track featuring stars Shane Briant and Madeline Smith as well as two featurettes, 'Charming Evil: Terence Fisher at Hammer' and 'Taking Over the Asylum: The Making of Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell'.
The overall sound and picture quality of this release is STUNNING! This is one of those films that aficionados could never have imagined looking or sounding so fabulous.
I shall not delve into a synopsis or critical review of the film, merely to say that those of you who know the film shall not be disappointed by this release. A tad pricey (I paid $47.00), but definitely worth the investment.
Be sure to watch for Patrick Troughton (Doctor Who #2) as the bodysnatcher and Bernard Lee (original "M" of James Bond fame) as asylum inmate Tarmut!
Thank you for reading my review!
on June 4, 2016
Beautiful, colorful video - very rich. Sound quality is great as well. Wonderful DVD.
Peter Cushing is back as Baron Frankenstein in this final film of the Hammer Horror Cushing-Frankenstein film series. This time the Baron creates a hideous monster that has to be seen to be believed.
Shane Briant plays Simon Helder - a befitting part for Briant. Simon has studied the work of the Baron, has tried his experiments and is sentenced to 5 years in an asylum for sorcery. The Baron is hiding in the asylum and is considered dead - he has emerged as a doctor of the asylum. Victor Frankenstein has enlisted the help of Sarah (Madleine Smith) to assist him in his continuing experiments but when Simon enters the picture the team creates a monster seemly from hell!
A good final film in the series.
on November 9, 2003
Frankenstein & the Monster from Hell (1974) is not a bad movie. Its not terribly exciting, but it definitely has it's moments and is worth a look for horror fans and most likely a buy for lovers of Hammer Films, Terrence Fisher, and Peter Cushing. I guess also for fans of David Prowse (body of Darth Vader) who plays "the monster from hell"! This is Hammer director Terrence Fisher's last film, another reason why it's worth a look. Fisher is responsible for much of Hammer's horror classics: all 5 Frankenstein films, Horror of Dracula, The Mummy, Curse of the Werewolf, The Gorgon, Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, Phantom of the Opera, the list goes on...
This is also the last film in Hammer's Frankenstein series. It all started in 1957 with The Curse of Frankenstein, an absolute classic starring Cushing as Victor Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as the Creature. This is followed by Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), Frankenstein created Woman (1967), and Frankenstein must be Destroyed (1969), which brings us to The Monster from Hell (1974).
The plot concerns Victor Frankenstein (Cushing) being the resident medical doctor at an insane asylum where he secretly experiments with creating his own being. He's also a patient, by the way! He soon meets a young patient/doctor, Simon Helder (Shane Briant), who is sent to the asylum because he is caught doing similar experiments in the outside world. Frankenstein takes Helder under his wing and uses him to perform surgeries that he can no longer do because of his burnt hands. Frankenstein lets Helder in on what he's doing and introduces him to "the monster from hell" played and grunted by David Prowse of Darth Vader fame. Long story short, Frankenstein's creation grows tired of his lifestyle...and watch out!
This film is nowhere near as bad/silly as others may write. Yes there are bits of cheese, a laugh or two, and some underacted scenes, but don't most horror films have that? Its not a scarefest, but its not a laughfest either. Besides,its Cushing, Fisher, and Hammer for cryin' out loud! Paramount's DVD has a good looking 16:9 widescreen transfer, decent dolby digital mono sound, and english subtitles. Making it special is a commentary by David Prowse, Madeline Smith (Sarah/"Angel", Frankenstein's initially mute assistant) and historian Johnathan Sothcott. It also can be purchased for the same price as renting it a few times! All in all, it isn't the best Hammer film to start with, but it has its good qualities, most importantly atmospheric direction from Fisher and a solid creepy performance by Cushing, may they both rest in peace. Thanks to both of them for giving us so many classics.
on September 12, 2013
1973's FRANKENSTEIN & THE MONSTER FROM HELL is the final installment in Hammer's long running FRANKENSTEIN series which created a revolution in horror films back in 1957 by introducing color with THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. Between these two titles were 5 other films ranging from first class (1967's FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN - the title being a parody of Brigitte Bardot's AND GOD CREATED WOMAN) to singularly unfortunate (1970's HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN - which was meant to be a parody). All but two were directed by Terence Fisher and only HORROR did not star Peter Cushing. For this last go round Cushing and company were working with severe budgetary limitations yet they managed to produce a fitting swan song.
Times had changed and horror movies were shot with bigger budgets and had become effects driven as opposed to story and character driven. Contemporary horror as epitomised by NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and THE EXORCIST was in and Gothic horrors were out even in England where the literary tradition began. Hammer could only afford less than $300,000 for FATMFH and while it shows in the miniature shots, the overall effect of the film is remarkably effective considering the budget. The sets are claustrophobic, the music intermittent, and the performances subdued giving the entire movie a melancholy air befitting its status as the last one in the series.
A cadaverous looking Peter Cushing is spot on as the elderly Baron. Although subdued in nature, he's still very much in control. Shane Briant is like a younger version of Cushing although he does show some conscience at the end. David Prowse uses his eyes effectively as the creature (weird make-up though) and Madeline Smith conveys innocence throughout which is very hard to do. Various small parts are played by well known British character players including Bernard Lee (M from the James Bond films). Although not in the best of health, Terence Fisher still directs with a firm hand using his camera fluidly and editing scenes for maximum impact. Speaking of editing, it should be noted that this American version of the film is 6 minutes shorter than the British one.
FATMFH was released by Paramount, 2 years after it was made, on a double bill with CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER. It did not fare well either here or abroad which hastened the original Hammer's demise. 40 years later it holds up quite well and is in the top third of Hammer's FRANKENSTEIN releases. I would love to see it partnered on Blu-Ray/DVD with SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA allowing us to see the swan song of both series together. It could then be bookended with the start-up films CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and HORROR OF DRACULA for a real comparison. Until then this Paramount DVD will have to do. The picture is sharp and clear and in the right aspect as well. Commentary by Dave Prowse and Maddie Smith about working for Hammer as well as on this film, gives the DVD an added dimension for hardcore fans.