Sunday, October 10, 2010

THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN (Freddie Francis, 1963)

A mute outcast’s silent scream thaws the Baron’s heart and his frozen mass of patchwork flesh. Freddie Francis neglects the original chapter in the Frankenstein oeuvre and reinvents the creature’s origin and its creator’s apparent demise, even reconfiguring the monster’s visage to resemble the iconic Universal avatar.

Baron Frankenstein and his assistant rebuild the fractured laboratory in the now forsaken castle, spurned by locals and cursed by their immoral oaths. They are chased into the mountains and find solace with another outcast Rena, a beautiful young lady who is bullied because of her physical handicap: she is deaf and mute. By chance (or just poor writing) her cave is next to the spot were the creature was frozen in time, held in stasis in a timeless glacier. Once thawed, the damaged brain cannot function and the baron seeks out the help of Zoltan, to hypnotize and ignite the spark of life in the fractured convolutions of its brain. But Zoltan retains control of the hulking harbinger and utilizes its strength and stealth to get rich quickly. The film’s title becomes a misnomer because it’s Zoltan’s intentions that are corrupt, while the Baron only wishes to heal his monstrous child. I suppose THE EVIL INTENTIONS OF ZOLTAN just doesn’t quite fit the Frankenstein cannon.

The Baron’s ethical dilemma is to put science above faith, to mold and create instead of kowtowing to an imaginary and facetious god: therefore, the Baron himself (and Homo Sapiens) is a malignant conglomeration of disparate biology assembled by a deranged mind of an omnipotent child. Zoltan remains the one culpable for the deaths though it is the protagonist who is held responsible, whereas the creature is only a construct seemingly without original sin.

Freddie Francis’ directs the film but his influence upon the cinematography is dramatic, utilizing deep focus that juggles multiple characters and actions in Scope compositions. Francis propels the story along with few establishing shots and expunges exposition for the sake of pacing. The laboratory design is prototypical, with large Tesla coils vomiting electricity and giant globes full of blue energy, becoming a place where another kind of Arc brings life to a lifeless void.

Final Grade: (B)

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