Sunday, June 5, 2011

THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (Terence Fisher, 1958)

Viktor Frankenstein in one step ahead of the guillotine and trades a priest’s death for another chance at forging life. Terence Fisher’s blackly humorous sequel doesn’t suffer from a irony deficiency, as the Baron must transplant himself into a new village under an assumed name, then suffer another kind of transplant with a little help from his friend.

The first scene picks up from the epilogue of THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN as the Baron is being led to his execution. A subtle gesture to a deformed assistant and the hooded executioner while a priest babbles biblical nonsense, cuts suddenly to the rusty blade descending: a quick jump cut juxtaposes a man’s scream over the drunken laughter in some nearby tavern, as two bumbling alcoholics bicker and argue about completing a mysterious job for a few dollars. Of course, they dig up the unmarked grave and discover a cheap wooden coffin with Frankenstein’s name carved upon it: inside is the beheaded corpse of the priest.

Dr. Stein now has a successful practice in a far away town and is blackmailed by another physician, who knows his secret identity. With the help of their deformed assistant, the two scientists place his brain into a healthier body but Dr. Stein seems nonplussed with the cannibalistic side-effects of his last operation. Interestingly enough, the new creation becomes infatuated with a buxom nurse and destroys his old body, starting life anew by burning away the past. But he is victimized and his brain damaged, devolving into animal instinct, craving human flesh. With part of his mind intact, he understands the beast he has become and curses Frankenstein before a large crowd, revealing the Doctor’s secret.

In a neat twist of fate, Frankenstein is murdered by the very patients he was helping to heal (though he never wasted parts) and his cohort cuts out the brain and transplants it into a Peter Cushing look-alike. He is now Dr. Franck in London ready to see his first patient. But is he competent…or cannibal?


Final Grade: (B)

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