Mario Bava's Black Sunday (1960)

Mario Bava's Black Sabbath (1963)

Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963)

Mario Bava's Blood and Black Lace (1964)

Mario Bava's Kill Baby, Kill (1966)

Sergio Martino's The Case of the Scorpion's Tail (1971)

Luciano Ercoli's Death Walks on High Heels (1971)

Duccio Tessari's The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971)

Emilio Miraglia's The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971)

Peter Newbrook's The Asphyx (1972)

Luciano Ercoli's Death Walks at Midnight (1972)

Richard Friedman's Doom Asylum (1972)

Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left (1972)

Emilio Miraglia's The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972)

Sergio Martino's Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)

Sergio Martino's Torso (1973)

Alfred Sole's Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Lucio Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)

Lucio Fulci's The Black Cat (1981)

Juan Piquer Simón's Pieces (1982)

Harry Bromley Davenport's Xtro (1982)

Wayne Berwick's Microwave Massacre (1983)

Joseph S. Cardone's The Slayer (1982)

Stephen King's Firestarter (1984)

Buddy Cooper's The Mutilator (1984)

Larry Stewart's The Initiation (1984)

Steve Miner's House (1985)

Tibor Takacs The Gate (1987)

Ethan Wiley's House II: The Second Story (1987)

Frank Henenlotter's Brain Damage (1988)

Ken Russell’s The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

Juan Piquer Simon's Slugs (1988)

James Isaac's The Horror Show (1989)

Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs (1991)

Lewis Abernathy's House IV The Repossession (1992)

Anders Jacobsson's Evil Ed (1995)

Wes Craven's Mind Ripper (1995)

Robert Kurtzman’s Wishmaster (1997)

Terence Fisher's The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) Retrospective

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) on IMDb

We must wait, what we have done up to now is nothing, nothing to what we will do. We have only just started, just opened the door, but now is the time to go through that door and find out what lies beyond it. Don’t you see, we have discovered the source of life itself, and we have used it to restore a creature that was dead. This is a tremendous discovery, but we must not share it yet, we must move on to the next stage. We've restored life where life was extinct, it's no longer sufficient to bring the dead back to life; we must create from the beginning. We must build up our own creature, and build it up from nothing, forget the whole, now we must think of parts: limbs, organs, we must build the most complex thing known to man, man himself. We must create a human being, a man with the perfect physique, with the hands of an artist and the matured brain of a genius, we can do it, don't you see, and as for revolting against nature, haven't we done so already and succeeded, isn't the thing that's dead supposed to be dead for all time? Yet we have brought it back to life, we hold in the palms of our hands such secrets that have never been dreamed of, where nature puts up barriers to confine the scope of man, we have broken through those barriers. There is nothing to stop us now...

Baron Frankenstein proudly exclaims to Paul Krempe about his visions and ideas for creating the perfect man and whenever I listen to the late, great Peter Cushing uttering these lines, devised from a script from Jimmy Sangster, in October 1956, the enormity of what Baron Frankenstein is portraying to his tutor and colleague, played by Robert Urquhart, is uniquely abhorrent, yet somewhat stimulating, as Cushing delivers each line with perfection, meaning the Baron makes his case with ease; however, both we and Krempe share in the horrifying thought of what lies in wait, think about it, Frankenstein wants to create the perfect specimen, a man with the ideal physique, with the hands of an artist, the matured brain of a genius; Frankenstein thinks only of himself, whilst Paul Krempe wants to use the discovery for medical and surgical procedures, he thinks of others, and is ultimately appalled at Frankenstein’s revelations, and suggests that what the Baron is saying in nonsensical, a revolt against nature, such a thing will only end in evil, and in this aspect, he is quite correct, as The Creature, so expertly portrayed by Christopher Lee, in his very first horror role, almost destroys everything it touches, as it lurches from one murderous rampage to another, before finally facing its Creator in a thrilling finale. I’m certain by now that a great deal of horror aficionados from around the world would have watched, admired and fell in love with Terence Fisher’s The Curse of Frankenstein, but we’ll look at the origins of the movie, from Jimmy Sangster’s wonderful screenplay, James Bernard’s beautiful score, Bernard Robinson’s tremendously crafted and well-designed sets, Philip Leakey’s monstrous makeup effects, and of course,  how two world renowned horror icons, in Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, came to be involved in one of Hammer Film’s most successful horror franchises…

The Curse of Frankenstein: Frankenstein Begins

Set in a small mountainous village, in Switzerland, around the year 1880, The Curse of Frankenstein tells the story of Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) who has been incarcerated in jail, awaiting execution. A local Priest listens intently to his tale of woe, which is narrated in a series of flashbacks, the first of which involves the Baron (Melvyn Hayes) following the death of his Mother, as he meets and employs Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart) as a tutor and companion; both man and boy quickly develop a friendship and understanding of the scientific world, and, after years of experimentation, investigation and determination, their hard work is finally rewarded, as they successfully bring a deceased puppy back to life. Krempe is determined to advance the medical and scientific world, believing this new thrilling discovery would benefit mankind; however, Baron Frankenstein appears less than impressed, his thoughts instantly turn to creating the perfect human being, a man with the perfect physique, with the hands of an artist and the matured brain of a genius, proudly exclaiming, ‘we hold in the palms of our hands such secrets that have never been dreamed of, where nature puts up barriers to confine the scope of man, we have broken through those barriers, there is nothing to stop us now’, which Krempe finds both abhorrent and distasteful, but Frankenstein remains steadfast, and convinces his elder friend to steal the corpse of a hanged highwayman, whose body has been left on a gibbet just outside the town.

With the corpse back at the laboratory, the Baron is dismayed to discover the extent of damage caused to the head, as the birds have eaten half of it away, and decides to remove it, an act which Krempe finds repulsive, and forces him to voice his misgivings, suggesting that perhaps it would be best to present their findings to the Federation, in Berne, however, Frankenstein concerns himself only with the size of the highwayman’s hands, describing them as clodhoppers, and sets in motion a plan to replace them with the hands of the world’s greatest sculptor. As the Baron scavenges for what he describes as ‘materials’ for his work, including a perfectly preserved pair of eyeballs, his Cousin, Elizabeth (Hazel Court) arrives, and expresses her wish to marry Frankenstein; however, the very thought horrifies Krempe, who worries about her ability to comprehend such a shock, should their secret be discovered. Unable to continue, Krempe curtails his involvement in the experiment and suggests the Baron will become infamous if he continues in this vein. Again Frankenstein dismisses this notion and invites the world-renowned Professor Bernstein (Paul Hardtmuth) to dinner, Elizabeth unwittingly describes the Professor as having the greatest brain in Europe, and this remark almost certainly seals his fate; retiring for the night, the Baron shows the Professor to his room, but pushes him from the top of the staircase, killing the elderly gentleman instantly.

Baron Frankenstein allows Professor Bernstein to be buried within the family vault, where he plans to remove his brain, so that the ‘Creature’ will have the sharpest of minds and an accumulation of a lifetime of knowledge, however, Krempe, suspicious of the death, discovers Victor and a fight ensues, with the brain damaged as a result. Infuriated, the Baron retreats to the safety of the laboratory, and, with the damaged brain inserted, completes the assembly of the Creature, however, Frankenstein realises that he is unable to operate the apparatus himself and begs Krempe to assist him, who appears delighted to see the demise of the experiment, until the Baron threatens to introduce Elizabeth to the world of science, which leaves Krempe with no alternative, forcing him to agree; a rejuvenated Frankenstein quickly makes his way back to the laboratory, but is both shocked and thrilled to discover the Creature (Christopher Lee) now fully animated and menacingly stood before him, however, this soon turns to horror as the Creature threatens to destroy it’s very creator, until Krempe steps in and fells it with a stool; with the Creature shackled, Krempe pleads with the Baron to destroy the ‘lunatic’, but Frankenstein blames his former tutor, for damaging the brain, insisting that it can be repaired. The following morning, Frankenstein is aghast to discover the Creature has broken free of its shackles and escaped, and immediately calls Krempe for assistance in finding it, before it disappears into the forest, however, Frankenstein’s Monster comes across an old blind man and his grandson, and ruthlessly kills both. The Baron and Krempe quickly locate the Creature, kill it, and bury it in the woods.

With the apparent danger at an end, Krempe feels obliged to leave the Baron’s estate, who appears eager for his former comrade to leave, and we soon discover why, Frankenstein has been out and retrieved the Creature, which now hangs loosely from a hook, and chillingly suggests that he’ll once again give it life. As the Baron prepares for dinner, the Maid, Justine (Valerie Gaunt), with whom he has been having an illicit affair, is annoyed to discover her Master has agreed to marry Elizabeth, and threatens to reveal all if Frankenstein goes ahead with the nuptials; she also threatens to report the Baron to the relevant authorities, suggesting that she knows all about his antics in the laboratory, to which Frankenstein demands proof. Later that night, Justine sneaks from her quarters and waits for the Baron to leave, before beginning her search for proof, once inside, she discovers Frankenstein’s secret for herself, but before she can escape, the Baron slams and locks the door, leaving Justine at the mercy of the Creature.

The following night, on the eve of their wedding, Paul Krempe returns to the estate, where he plans to surprise his former student, however, it appears the Baron has a surprise of his own, and reveals the Creature, now a pathetic and crestfallen figure, who Frankenstein commands to perform a variety of tricks, much to the annoyance of Krempe, who taunts the Baron and compares it to nothing more than an animal. Victor, enraged, blames Krempe for destroying the brain, and suggests that he will continue with his research, by acquiring a new brain, if necessary. Krempe demands the Baron cease these atrocities, and threatens to go to the authorities, warning that Victor will pay for what he has done, and storms from the estate, with Victor in tow. Elizabeth sees her chance to finally enter the laboratory, not realising the Creature has escaped from its chains, whilst outside, Frankenstein and Krempe fight, before they see the Creature on the roof. Krempe sets off towards the village for help, Victor, meanwhile quickly runs inside, takes a pistol and prepares to face his murderous creation, but has no idea that Elizabeth has also reached the roof and is now in the path of the Creature. In a desperate attempt to save Elizabeth, Frankenstein shoots his creation, and uses a lantern to set it on fire, before it crashes into a vat of acid and disintegrates, with the nightmare apparently at an end. As the flashback ends, we re-join an incarcerated Baron Frankenstein, his life’s work destroyed by the same hands that gave it life; Victor’s former tutor, Paul Krempe visits the Baron, but refuses to testify, accusing him of the murder of Justine, and denying the knowledge of any such Creature, leaving Frankenstein at the mercy of the executioner.

The Origins of The Curse of Frankenstein

Founded in 1934 by William Hinds, a businessman from Hammersmith, London, Hammer Productions Limited released their first motion picture a year later, entitled ‘The Public Life of Henry the Ninth’, and it was around this period that Hinds met Enrique Carreras; on May 10th, 1935, Exclusive Films, a distribution company was formed, however, a slump in the British film industry saw Hammer Films declared bankrupt and liquidated in 1937, although Exclusive survived. In 1938, Anthony Hinds and James Carreras joined Exclusive, but due to active service, neither man would be involved in the movie industry until 1946, where Hammer Films would be resurrected as a production company under Exclusive, mainly to produce cheap ‘quota quickies’, as the British Government brought in legislation to encourage cinemas to show a number of domestic movies. Over the next three years, Hammer Films would release a number of thrillers, including Death in High Heels (1947) and The Dark Road (1948), before acquiring the film rights to several BBC radio serialisations. It was during this period that Hammer began to film inside country houses and quickly realised immense savings could be made and in 1951, the production company purchased Down Place, in Bray, Berkshire, later renamed Bray Studios,  with revenge drama, Cloudburst (1951) the first movie in production. During the early 1950’s, Hammer Films released a number of movies, including Stolen Face (1952) and Four Sided Triangle (1953), and both of these are important to the eventual production of The Curse of Frankenstein, as both movies are directed by Terence Fisher, and, more importantly, both consist of similar themes, namely tortured individuals, self-destruction, and the need to create the perfect individual, albeit on a much smaller scale. Although Stolen Face and Four Sided Triangle were essentially noir films, it wouldn’t be long before Hammer ventured into the world of science fiction and horror with the 1955 adaption of Nigel Kneale’s BBC serial, The Quatermass Experiment, featuring American actor Brian Donlevy and directed by Val Guest, however the British Board of Film Classification deemed the film to be graphic and awarded an X Certificate, much to the delight of Producer Anthony Hinds, who quickly changed the film’s title to The Quatermass Xperiment, taking advantage of the BBFC’s ratings system; the movie proved to be a huge success and a sequel, Quatermass 2,was released a couple of years later. It’s interesting to note that several Hammer regulars came together for The Quatermass Xperiment, most notably James Bernard, James Needs, Phil Leakey, and Len Harris. In 1956, Hammer released X-The Unknown, directed by Leslie Norman, and written by Jimmy Sangster, which was originally intended to be a Quatermass sequel, but Kneale refused the studio permission to use the title character. With a confident production team in place, Anthony Hinds and Michael Carreras were joined by associate producer Anthony Nelson Keys, as Hammer looked to change the face of the horror movie for good, with The Curse of Frankenstein.

In 1956, Associated Artists Productions, headed by New York financier, Eliot Hyman, acquired a number of film libraries, one of which was Warner, and amongst Hyman’s associates was a young American filmmaker, Max Rosenberg, who was familiar with Hammer Films Managing Director, James Carreras, as the pair worked together on a funding and distribution deal with United Artists, for Quatermass II. It was around this time that Hammer Films producer Anthony Hinds received a screenplay, entitled ‘Frankenstein and the Monster’, from Milton Subotsky, a friend of Max Rosenberg, but this was ultimately rejected by the Production studio as being too short, too costly, and, according to Producer Michael Carreras, not particularly good. Subotsky’s screenplay also tended to lift directly from a number of earlier films, including James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein and 1939’s Son of Frankenstein, leaving Hammer Films with a possible copyright infringement lawsuit, if they went ahead with the project. With this in mind, Producer Anthony Hinds commissioned Production Manager Jimmy Sangster to rewrite the screenplay, with the project being renamed The Curse of Frankenstein. With a script in place, Hammer also undertook the brave decision to shoot the movie in Eastmancolor, a high-quality colour print, developed by Eastman Kodak during the early 1950’s, and brought cinematographer Jack Asher, and camera operator Len Harris to film the movie; this was also a decision that appeared to shake the British Board of Film Classification to its very foundations, as not only would Sangster’s screenplay show graphic violence and horror, it would also be shown in colour; the BBFC were concerned that the script went far beyond what was allowed, even for a movie with an X Certificate. Undeterred, Hammer regular Terence Fisher was brought in to direct, alongside Composer James Bernard, Editor James Needs, Production Designer Bernard Robinson, Makeup artist Phil Leakey, and Wardrobe Mistress Molly Arbuthnot. To bring Jimmy Sangster’s screenplay to life, Hammer wanted the cream of British television and they were delighted when Peter Cushing, who had featured in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954), approached them after seeing an advertisement in the trades, and instructed his agent to offer his services for the role of Baron Victor Frankenstein, as the actor had thoroughly enjoyed James Whale’s 1931 film Frankenstein, and especially the performance of Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein. For the roles of Elizabeth and Justine, Hammer selected Gainsborough Films starlet Hazel Court, and a little-known Television actress, Valerie Gaunt. Opposite Peter Cushing’s Baron Frankenstein, Robert Urquhart was handed the role of Paul Krempe, but perhaps the most important role, aside from that of the title character, was that of The Creature; when casting the role of Frankenstein’s creation, Hammer needed a tall actor, skilled in movement and mime, and eventually two actors were deemed suitable, Television star Bernard Bresslaw, and Christopher Lee, with the role eventually going to the latter. With the casting now complete, Hammer began work on The Curse of Frankenstein on November 19th, 1956, with the hanging highwayman scene being the first to be shot, and wrapped January 3rd, 1957, with stuntman Jock Easton, doubling as Christopher Lee, falling into a vat of acid.

Initially, when The Curse of Frankenstein was released upon an unsuspecting audience of cinemagoers, it proved to be a huge success, both financially and with the paying public, however, not everyone was happy as the critics of the day savaged the movie, and in particular, an R.D. Smith, writing in the Tribune, suggested, “For all lovers of the cinema, only two words can describe this film, depressing and degrading”, Smith went on to state that he felt this latest exhaustion into the horrors of Mary Shelley’s classic tale, was the most revolting exhibition that he had ever seen on the screen, and commented on everything from the Grand Guignol Theatre to the Jacobean Blood Baths, suggesting that an analyst was required instead of a critic. Smith ended his rant with, “The film has an X Certificate and its producer, Anthony Hinds, has neglected no sales trick that they bring in the money from the pathetic public, but if he has correctly assessed the effect of what he is doing, I’m inclined to think that this marks the end of the thriller proper, the logical development of this kind of thing is a peep show of freaks, dispersed with visits to a torture chamber, it is a depressing and degrading thought for anyone who loves the cinema”.  It is also interesting to note that the British Board of Film Classification was not too complementary of the movie either, as Censor Audrey Field stated, after reading Jimmy Sangster’s screenplay, describing it as, “Indefinitely more disgusting than the first script, this is in fact really evil, a lip-smacking relish for mutilated corpses, repulsive dismembered hands, and eyeballs removed from the head, and alternates with gratuitous examples of sadism and lust”, whilst Frank Croft, at the BBFC, also stated that it was, “A monstrous script, ludicrously written with a complete disrespect for history, it seems to me that a film that is even somewhat watered down from the script might give adults nightmares, people who go to a Frankenstein film expect horror, but a horror film based on a well-known legend, and not this sort of stuff”. Whilst it’s easy to understand how film critics and the British Board of Film Classification may well have had moral quibbles about The Curse of Frankenstein, and especially Jimmy Sangster’s screenplay, after all, nothing like it had ever been seen before, and as the movie was shot in Eastmancolor, this literally compounded the fact, however today, some 56 years after The Curse of Frankenstein premiered at the Warner Theatre in Leicester Square, we can look back retrospectively at a Hammer Horror classic and see whether the movie still has the ability to captivate, thrill and horrify audiences as it did back on the 2nd May, 1957.

As The Curse of Frankenstein begins, we are treated to a wonderful score from James Bernard, under the supervision of musical director, John Hollingsworth, a haunting melody, which the composer suggests mimics the syllables of the title perfectly, almost like the opening of a song, “Of course, I never intended it to be sung”, Bernard explains in Marcus Hearn’s Hammer Film Music Collection: Volume One, “but the outline of a tune seemed to present itself when I imagined how The Curse of Frankenstein might be sung”. Bernard’s mixture of mysterious woodwinds, combined with thumping percussions and strings would quickly become a staple of the Hammer horror film, and during the late 1950’s, audiences would not of heard anything like it before, especially when combined with a colour horror film, this would have been part of the whole cinematic experience, no doubt terrifying those that were fortunate enough to watch the movie for the very first time; James Bernard’s musical composition adds terrific ambience to the movie, and with today’s Home Entertainment systems, the score sounds just as telling as it did back in May 1957. The first image that we see in the movie is a beautiful matte painting from Les Bowie, as Alex Gallier rides on horseback to visit a crestfallen and dishevelled Baron Frankenstein; it’s interesting to note that when the Baron rises from a bed of straw, and shambles towards the priest, this movement will be replicated later in the movie by The Creature, who also sits on a bed of straw. These opening scenes were filmed at the courtyard entrance to Bray Studios, and this leads us nicely onto another important aspect of The Curse of Frankenstein, and indeed, Hammer Films as a whole, the extraordinary set designs of Bernard Robinson, who, according to Screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, could build you Transylvania for £150 or less, as Director Terence Fisher explains, “He had a great feel for the emotional Impact of a subject; one always knew in his sets what was going to happen. He was uncanny in knowing that you would need a certain kind of window design or wall, or something in a particular place, he would know exactly where a certain action would take place, and he would give you a background which went well with the emotional impact of that scene, he had a great feeling for his work”. Although he was often working with budgetary constraints, one of Bernard Robinson’s abilities as a set designer was he could make a relatively cheap movie appear extremely expensive, and with a budget of £65,000, this was certainly the case with The Curse of Frankenstein, and in particular, the Baron’s laboratory, with a variety of colourful bubbling liquids, a working electrostatic generator and a Wimshurst machine. As the Baron begins to explain his incredible story, we meet 21-year-old Melvyn Hayes, as the Young Frankenstein, who, as many Hammer Historians will know, was the very first person to portray the character of Frankenstein in a Hammer Horror film, and he remembers his time at Bray Studios fondly, “I remember my first day, because going into Bray Studios, the first person that I saw on the set was Peter Cushing and he said to me, ‘Melvyn, in the film, I wear this ring and as you are playing me as a young man, would you wear it’ and he took of this ring and handed it to me, he was the loveliest man”. Hayes also explains how he found acting alongside Robert Urquhart, who played the role of Paul Krempe, “He was the most laid back actor I have ever worked with. I had this very small part, but an important part and I knew that and so, as a result, I had learned the role inside out, I knew every word, how I was going to say them, I had worked everything out because I had the time to do it, and when I got on set and I was introduced to Robert, he said to me, ‘Now then, let’s see young man, let’s get the script and see what this scene is about’, and I realised that I don’t think he had even looked at the script, but maybe this was his way of working, he was wonderful, lovely to work with”.

To bring Bernard Robinson’s sets to life, Hammer brought Cinematographer Jack Asher on board, and one of the very first things that both he and Director Terence Fisher accomplished, some five days before filming began, was an Eastmancolor test, involving a little black and white dog. As the film was to be shot in colour, Fisher felt that a more colourful dog should be used, thus the little black and tan pup that Peter Cushing and Robert Urquhart revive, was brought in to replace the original dog, which was adopted by focus puller, Harry Oakes, whilst ‘Frankie’ was taken home by Urquhart. Jack Asher’s style of photography was often characterised by his use of colours, often portraying greens, reds and purples as unrealistic and again this is evident in the laboratory, and the cinematographer is on record as stating that The Curse of Frankenstein was a try-out, a debut of ideas for photographing colour, but Dracula (1958) was really the highlight of this; what Asher attempted on this film, he would perfect on Dracula. 

With ‘Frankie’ successfully revived, Baron Frankenstein and Krempe discus their new found knowledge, and this would be the perfect time to analyse Peter Cushing’s performance in this film, who brings a certain amount of dignity and respect to the character. In interviews, Cushing suggests that the scientist was not intrinsically evil, and defends his actions, stating the Baron was obsessed with a desire to create life, for the good of mankind, he is misunderstood and mistrusted, often forced to use unusual, but sometimes ruthless methods to enable him to maintain his level of work and consistency. Before taking on the role of Baron Frankenstein, Peter Cushing consulted with his personal physician, regarding the transplantation of a human brain, and openly admits to basing the character on Dr. Robert Knox, a Scottish anatomist and zoologist, who was perhaps best known for his association with the notorious grave robbers Burke and Hare, stating “I have always based my playing of Frankenstein on Robert Knox, though with variations based on the demands of the script and differing degrees of ruthlessness, because no one will ever leave him alone to work”, coincidentally, some three years later, Cushing would go on to feature as Knox in John Gilling’s The Flesh and the Fiends (1960).

Without doubt, Peter Cushing’s performance in The Curse of Frankenstein ranks amongst the finest debuts ever seen in a horror film, and gave the character several dimensions, from the dishevelled Baron at the beginning of the movie, the scientist discovering the secrets of the human mind, and a man on the cusp of madness, in an instant, we are aware that Peter Cushing and the Hammer Horror movie are perfectly matched, this is no more apparent where we see the Baron, eyes wide, listening to the heartbeat of the revived puppy, stethoscope at hand, a scene that Hammer would replicate many times over the next few years. During the next few scenes, we are introduced to the lead female characters, notably Hazel Court and Valerie Gaunt, as Elizabeth and Justine respectively, although Gaunt only featured in two movies for the studio, The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula, she will be forever etched into the history of both Hammer and the gothic horror film, as she was the first actress to exhibit Vampire fangs in a mainstream English language film. Both female characters are largely functional, at best, and screenwriter Jimmy Sangster was heavily mauled for creating, ‘staggeringly dumb characters, who were mostly on screen because of their connections to the male leads, most notably Cushing and Urquhart’ Advancing through the movie, we arrive at what has often be described as one of the most iconic cinematic scenes ever witnessed in the history of the horror film, as the Creature is quite literally unveiled onto an unsuspecting 1950’s audience. As Baron Frankenstein nears his laboratory, the sound of shattering glass becomes apparent, and once inside, we’re treated to an absorbing tracking shot, as a bandaged figure fills the frame, staggering in motion, a hand rises and tears a bandage from its face, revealing The Creature, an expression of abject horror and rage adorns its hastily stitched face, its natural instinct is to take the life that created it. Alongside Peter Cushing’s performance as the enigmatic Baron Frankenstein, Christopher Lee, who was largely unknown at this point, was handed the task of bringing Phil Leakey’s vision to life, although initially, the reaction of the critics weren’t particularly favourable, and suggested that Lee’s performance was without emotion or soul, an instinctive psychopathic being, often referring to Boris Karloff’s performance as The Monster in Frankenstein (1931), although this has rightly been rectified today. Praise should also be showered upon makeup artist Phil Leakey, who worked tirelessly, almost up until the last minute to perfect the look of The Creature, with the final design being completed on November 18th, 1956, a day before shooting began, the fact that Leakey used only cotton and other household materials, recreated from scratch on a daily basis, was also testament to his abilities as a makeup artist.

Overall, looking back retrospectively at The Curse of Frankenstein has been a truly wonderful experience, and in my opinion, there is no doubt at all that the movie still holds as much authority today, as it did when it was first released back in May, 1957, indeed, Terence Fisher’s Hammer Horror classic continues to thrill and entertain all who have watched, and with the release of the Blu-ray disc, the movie looks simply incredible, it also means that we can pick it up and watch again and again, as there is always something you may have missed the first time around. I would wholeheartedly state that The Curse of Frankenstein is one horror movie that almost certainly demands to be in your horror movie collection, as it’s a beautifully constructed film, well worth a watch.


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