Thursday, November 20, 2008

Horror of Frankenstein(1970)d/Jimmy Sangster

In an attempt to breathe life into Hammer's ailing Frankenstein series,director Sangster cast Ralph(Dr. Jeckyll & Sister Hyde)Bates as the Baron instead of Peter Cushing to appeal to a more youth-oriented audience,and with threadbare production values and a tongue-in-cheek script,the studio set out to remake/parody the highly successful Curse of Frankenstein(1957), failing to stop the progressive slide and inevitable collapse of the franchise three years later.That said,I,personally,enjoyed this entry greatly.Sure,it's cheezy and full of dry British humour,and perhaps not the direction the series needed to take at the time,but it's still a helluva lot of fun to watch,and a refreshing turn from Peter Cushing in the same old bloody apron and bone saw(which I also happen to like,so refrain from the hate mail,fiends!).
Handlebar sideburns??I'm totally rocking these for the winter.
Enter Victor Frankenstein(Ralph Bates),a saucy and sarcastic sociopathic scientific genius and womanizer who is outraged that his wealthy father(also quite the womanizer,tired apple/tree cliche',anyone?)has forbidden him to spend anymore of his gold duckats on laboratory gear.The young man settles the score with a shotgun,inheriting his father's fortune and entering the medical college in Vienna.His scholastic endeavors end prematurely when he inadvertently knocks up the Dean's daughter,sending him homeward to ressurect his experiments and fleshy relationship with his father's housekeeper(Kate O'Mara,loverly bristols,but Irish brogue-speaking Austrian?Hmmm).With a schoolmate,he sets up his laboratory and conducts increasingly less moral plays on life and death,leading to falling out between the two men.Frankenstein cares not about anyone's feelings.He is of superior intellect,rapier wit,and he wants to build human life out of particular pieces of corpses,and by the Gods,that's what he's a-gonna do!
Exactly how did the Baron(Ralph Bates) come into possession of Warren Beatty's decapitated head in a jar?
He resurrects a patchwork,putty-headed muscle-laden monster(David "Darth Vader" Prowse) through some murders,that terrorizes the town,but knows its place when dealing with superior intellect and rapier wit,answering to the diabolical doctor.His success is short-lived,due to various frameups of friends,dispatchings of gold-digging busom-heavy housekeepers,and curious love-struck bubbleheaded classmates(the delicious Veronica Carlson),and soon the authorities are on to Victor's garishly grotesque games!While aiding his creature's escape by making it hide in a coffin-sized vat of acid,it is unwittingly destroyed by a rotten little kid who can't keep her hands to herself while the police inspect the laboratory,pulling the chains that fill the vat with acid.Sometimes you can't win for losing.
The monster(David Prowse),looking pretty buff,apart from the livid scars and putty head.
Critics have been unnecessarily hard on this one over the years,for various reasons,ranging from the humour to the shoddy creature makeup on muscleman Prowse,but overall,I find it enjoyable,none-the-less.Perhaps it lacks in ample doses of nudity and gore that Hammer was injecting into its productions at the time,but you could do a lot worse in the Frankenstein sweepstakes,i.e. Lady Frankenstein,or Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie(blech!)than this.For the record,Hammer DID return to form directly afterwards with Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell.Ordinarily,it'd be an average two-Wopper,but I just GROOVE on the cleavage-fest provided by Carlson and O'Mara on this set,baby!Add one Wop and the final score is:
Alys(Kate O'Mara)and her two famous supporting(well-supported?) co-stars.Aereola-rific!


Keith said...

I actually enjoyed this one myself. I had heard a lot of mixed reaction about it. It might not have been what the franchise needed, but I still liked it. Plus it didn't hurt having the gorgeous Kate in it.

beedubelhue said...

Mein gott himmel,Carlson and O'Mara,two queens of the plunging bustline...that's a win-win situation no matter how you slice it.


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