He has cheated death once more!
Peter Cushing was the master when it came to playing a professor, teacher, mentor or any highly intelligent part. Cushing probably could have held up two Coke cans recited some techno babble and we would all believe he could turn them into ray guns.
It was this adaptability that made Cushing such a great Dr. Victor Von Frankenstein.
In his second Frankenstein film in the Hammer library, Cushing’s doctor escapes the gallows and buries a headless priest in his coffin.
He then escapes to the German city of Carlsbruck. Time passes and the doctor becomes a prominent member of society with a practice that caters to the poor.
Everything is going great as the doctor can continue his research in private and secure needed body parts from the sickly for his experiments.
The doctor’s world comes to a halt when the Medical Board start an investigation into him.
On top of all this, his secret is discovered by a very young, keen and determined Dr. Hans Kleve, who threatens to expose Frankenstein unless he makes him his apprentice. Frankenstein reluctantly agrees.
Their first experiment is a brain transplant. They will take the brain of a crippled man and put it into a new body preserved and assembled by Frankenstein.
The crippled man had also made a deal with Frankenstein that he would keep the doctor’s secret as long as he fixed him.
There are more experiments, crazy mishaps and a bound develops between doctor and apprentice.
This is a solid sequel to the already brilliant Curse of Frankenstein but once more it is stabled by Hammer veterans Terence Fisher (director), Jimmy Sangster (screenwriter) and star Peter Cushing.
What is brilliant about this series is that it follows the mad scientist and not the creature.
So many other versions of Frankenstein have always showcased the grotesqueness of the creature. When in fact the original novel asks the question, who is the monster? Man or his creation?
I like the crazy experiments, Cushing’s amazing performances and how his choices influence the world around him. His mad genius is fascinating and it is why I think the Frankenstein series is the best of the Hammer franchises. Can you imagine a TV series like the 1970s “Incredible Hulk” where you have a Victor Frankenstein on the run from the law but is trying to uncover the mad secrets to immortality? Could be fun.
4 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer