The Revenge of Frankenstein
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTerence Fisher
Screenplay byJimmy Sangster
Based onVictor Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley
Produced byAnthony Hinds
StarringPeter Cushing
Francis Matthews
Eunice Gayson
Michael Gwynn
CinematographyJack Asher
Edited byAlfred Cox
Music byLeonard Salzedo
Color processTechnicolor
Production
company
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release dates
  • 1 June 1958 (1958-06-01) (US)
  • 27 August 1958 (1958-08-27) (London)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Box office455,241 admissions (France)[1]

The Revenge of Frankenstein is a 1958 Technicolor British horror film directed by Terence Fisher and starring Peter Cushing, Francis Matthews, Michael Gwynn and Eunice Gayson.[2] Made by Hammer Film Productions, the film was a sequel to The Curse of Frankenstein, the studio's 1957 adaptation of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, and the second instalment in their Frankenstein series.

Plot

In 1860, Baron Victor Frankenstein, sentenced to death, escapes execution by the guillotine by having a priest beheaded and buried in his place with the aid of a hunchback named Karl. Three years later, Victor, now going by the alias Doctor Stein, has become a successful physician in Carlsbrück, catering to the wealthy while also attending to the poor in a paupers' hospital. Hans Kleve, a junior member of the medical council, recognizes Victor and, being an admirer, requests an apprenticeship with him. Together with Karl, Victor and Hans continue with the Baron's experiment: transplanting a living brain into a new body, one that is not a crude, cobbled-together creature. The deformed Karl is more than willing to volunteer his brain thereby gaining a healthy body, particularly after meeting Margaret, the lovely new assistant at the hospital.

The transplant succeeds, but when the excited Hans tells Karl that he will be a medical sensation, Karl panics and convinces Margaret to free him. Hans notes that the chimpanzee into which Victor had transplanted the brain of an orangutan ate its mate and worries about Karl, but his concerns are brushed off by Victor. Karl flees from the hospital and hides in Victor’s laboratory, where he burns his preserved hunchback body. He is attacked by a drunken janitor, who takes him for a burglar, but manages to kill the man. Victor and Hans discover Karl is missing and begin searching for him.

The next morning, Margaret finds Karl in her aunt's stable. While she goes to fetch Hans, Karl experiences difficulties with his arm and leg. When Hans and Margaret arrive, he is gone. At night, Karl ambushes and strangles a local girl. The next night, he rushes into an evening reception. Having redeveloped his deformities, he begs Victor for help, using his real name of Frankenstein, before he collapses and dies. Victor, disregarding Hans' pleas that he should leave the country, appears before the medical council, where he denies being the infamous Frankenstein. The unsatisfied councilors open Victor's supposed grave, only to discover the priest's body, and conclude that the real Frankenstein is still alive.

At the hospital, the patients violently attack Victor out of hatred, and Hans rushes his dying mentor to the lab. The police arrive to arrest Victor, but when Hans shows them Victor's dead body, they leave. Hans then transplants Victor's brain into a new body that Victor had prepared earlier, which he made to resemble him. Sometime later in London, Hans assists Victor, now calling himself Doctor Franck, in welcoming some patients.

Cast

Production

Drive-in advertisement from 1958 for The Revenge of Frankenstein and co-feature, Curse of the Demon.

According to Jimmy Sangster, James Carreras presold the film in America, taking a poster with him. When Carreras returned he approached Sangster with the project asking him to write the sequel. Sangster responded, "I killed (Baron) Frankenstein in the first film." Sangster stated that Carreras told him he had six weeks to write the project before shooting started and that "you'll think of something".[3]

The film was shot at Bray Studios and production commenced on January 6, 1958, three days after filming wrapped on Dracula (1958), which likewise starred Cushing and was directed by Fisher.[4]

Conductor and composer Leonard Salzedo was hired to write the score,[5] and most of the regular Hammer crew returned in other roles, including Jack Asher as cinematographer, Bernard Robinson on design and Phil Leakey on make-up.[6]

Release

It was released in the United States in June, 1958[7] with Curse of the Demon (1957) on the lower half of the double bill.[8]

Novelization

Three novelizations of the film were published. The first, by Jimmy Sangster (as Hurford Janes) was published by Panther Books in 1958; the second was by John Burke as part of his 1966 Pan book The Hammer Horror Film Omnibus; the third, by Shaun Hutson, was published in March 2013 (ISBN 9780099556237).

Critical reception

Variety called The Revenge of Frankenstein "a high grade horror film" with "rich" production values and a script that was "well-plotted, peopled with interesting characters, aided by good performances."[9]

Motion Picture Daily noted, "a horror picture turned out with creative skill and imagination. The most notable contribution the Hammers have made to the genre is their stunning use of color for frightening effects". Hammer Films "have demolished once and for all the theory that horror films should always be in black-and-white".[10]

Harrison's Reports declared it "a first-rate picture of its kind."[11]

The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote: "A contrived plot and a notable lack of pace and imagination are responsible for the failure of this lavish and painstaking production to be convincing even on the level of a horror film. Peter Cushing's stylish and diffident performance serves only to underline the farcical effects of a crude and pedestrian handling of the little legitimate horror left."[12]

As of October 2022, The Revenge of Frankenstein held an 87% approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 15 reviews.[13]

See also

References

  1. ^ Box office information for Terence Fisher films in France at Box office Story
  2. ^ "The Revenge of Frankenstein". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  3. ^ "The British Entertainment History Project : Jimmy Sangster". Historyproject.org.uk. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  4. ^ Hallenbeck, Bruce G. (2013), The Hammer Frankenstein: British Cult Cinema, Midnight Marquee Press, p. 101, ISBN 978-1936168330
  5. ^ Hallenbeck 2013, p. 105.
  6. ^ Hallenbeck 2013, p. 229.
  7. ^ Warren, Bill (1986). "Keep Watching The Skies Volume 2". McFarland & Co., Inc. ISBN 0-89950-170-2. Page 776
  8. ^ Hallenbeck 2013, p. 106.
  9. ^ "The Revenge of Frankenstein - Variety". Variety. 18 June 1958. p. 6.
  10. ^ "The Revenge of Frankenstein - Motion Picture Daily". New York [Motion picture daily, inc.] 18 June 1958. p. 5. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  11. ^ "The Revenge of Frankenstein - Harrison's Reports". New York, Harrison's Reports. 21 June 1958. p. 98.
  12. ^ "The Revenge of Frankenstein". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 25 (296): 117. September 1958.
  13. ^ "The Revenge of Frankenstein". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 October 2022.