the curse of frankenstein review

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) Directed by Terence Fisher

The motion picture that invigorated British Gothic horror and marked a milestone in the history of the Hammer film company, The Curse of Frankenstein is an authentic re-evaluation of the literary mythology of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Insightfully, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster’s lurid prose takes the figure of the ambitious and infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein and turns him into a perpetual protagonist, an elegantly macabre character study. A graceful yet delightfully lunatic Peter Cushing gives life to the obsessive Dr. Frankenstein – Cushing’s performance is all about psychotic mannerisms, the character rigorously studied by his thespianism is brought back to his tragic literary roots and removed from the cultural stereotype of the mad scientist – furthermore, the unrelenting focus on Victor Frankenstein as the gravitational center of the drama allows the filmmakers to exploit subtleties never before developed in other productions.

Admittedly, Karloff’s face as the monster is unbeatable iconography, but here Christopher Lee does his thing, playing the creature eliciting empathy and fear with genuine simplicity. Hammer knew from the start that trying his hand at reviving classic monsters would be an onerous challenge, so his first horror film shot in color feels timid in style but gloriously assertive in its novel eroticization of classic horror literature. The great Terence Fisher makes the old-fashioned aristocracy sexy and opts more for gothic romanticism than gothic expressionism in his erogenous direction; Frankenstein’s madness in defying nature and the omnipotence of God gives him an excessive dominant power, which seen on a sexual plane, seems like a perverse aphrodisiac with which he subdues everyone under his own pleasures and fixations. Wonderful British horror cinema, made by the most competent artists of the genre at that time.


Matteo Bedon

Written by

Editor and Official Film Critic at

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