Frankenstein Must be Destroyed

Starring: Peter Cushing
Warner Home Video
RRP: 12.99
Certificate: 15
Available 21 June 2004

Peter Cushing takes centre stage in another of the fondly remembered Hammer productions. Our devilish experimental surgeon has been driven to flee from his own country, after being found guilty of murder and serious malpractice. He arrives in England under an alias, searching for his ex-partner whose trials of keeping a brain alive succeeded where his own had failed. However, he discovers that the man has gone mad and is currently incarcerated in an asylum. Hatching a plan, Baron Frankenstein blackmails a worker at the institution into helping him kidnap the man and transplant his brain into another body so that he can learn the man's secrets. But Frankenstein hasn't counted on his ex-partner's desire for revenge...

If you're wondering how transplanting a madman's brain into another body can make him sane enough to reveal his scientific findings, so too did I. I think the trick here is to not think too deeply and just go along for the ride. The script is not that tight, and there's very little excitement in the entire film. Even the police investigation is conveniently forgotten two-thirds of the way through. The main saving grace here is the look; the sets and costumes are impressive.

This is not one of the better films in the Hammer catalogue, but it does have its moments; particularly when Frankenstein's ex-partner, now sporting a new body, goes home to his wife. There is nowhere else for him to go, even though he knows his wife will not recognise him. Again, there's a who's who of great and upcoming names. Aside from Cushing there's Simon Ward, Windsor Davies, Freddie Jones (no, not the one in Scooby-Doo), Thorley Walters (as the wonderfully no-nonsense Inspector Frisch), and it's always great to see Geoffrey Bayldon, here as the police doctor.

This is a slightly more modern take on Mary Shelley's original tale. Rather than an amalgamation of dead body parts creating an unholy abomination in the eyes of the people, we have a highly educated man's brain being transplanted into a professor's body, so that he speaks with an English upper-class accent. Even in Shelly's novel it was always Frankenstein who was the monster rather than the creature, but with no horrific product here this film loses its edge.

Ty Power

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