Two lovers become victims of their physical and emotional deformities, their souls united in a vengeful desire. Terence Fisher resurrects the egoistic Baron Victor Frankenstein whose search for immortality results in a crisis of morality.
Frankenstein is the subject of his own experiment, trapping the soul inside the body for an hour after his death. He is shocked back to life by his bewildered assistant Dr. Hertz and his youthful handyman Hans. The young man is in love with the tormented Christina, her physical deformity resulting in humiliation and rejection in the cloistered community. Through a series of violent events, Hans is unjustly convicted of the murder of Christina’s father and beheaded: she commits suicide in remorse. Of course, Frankenstein gets hold of both corpses and captures their souls, combining them in the physically altered body of Christina, who is now a smokin’ hot babe. Hans has now penetrated her once again, this time deep into her soul, and their combined memory seeks to balance the scales of Justice.
Fisher’s narrative economy sets the film in motion from the first scene, as the child Hans witnesses his father’s execution. He then cuts to the present tense where Dr. Hertz and the older Hans complete Baron’s grand experiment. The set designs are vintage Hammer with giant electrodes vomiting electricity and steam belching forth from pipes and growling from infernal machines. The film’s 88 minute run time cuts too many corners, never explaining how Hans/Christina discovered the identity of the murderer, and becomes mired in the perplexing accoutrement of Han’s severed head (and why it wouldn’t be decomposed months later!). Instead of an emotional journey of self-discovery amid the mystery of human identity, the film evolves into a mere revenge thriller. The premise is very interesting and it would have been interesting to ponder Hans’ predicament, forever enshrined in the body he recently seduced. But this is a Hammer film concerned with genre conventions (which it does very well). Peter Cushing’s performance is exceptional, imbuing the Baron with a condescending and impatient attitude, belittling the impudent citizens who stand in the way of science!
The dissociative protagonist finally completes their three tasks and seek the final rest denied them, plunging into troubled waters.
Final Grade: (B+)