Horror of Frankenstein

Starring: Ralph Bates and Kate O'Mara
Warner Home Video
RRP: 7.99
Certificate: 12
Available 11 October 2004

When the young Victor Frankenstein is refused financial backing from his father for his scientific experiments, he arranges the man's death in a shooting 'accident'. Going away to university in Vienna, he finds many of the lectured facts and theories to be beneath him. When he gets the Dean's daughter pregnant he decides to run away from his responsibilities back to his castle, where he has had many crates of equipment delivered. With his friend Wilhelm, Frankenstein kills a tortoise and uses electricity from generators to revive it. This minor success makes him more ambitious and he moves on to thoughts of creating a person from recently deceased body parts. When his colleague threatens to expose him to the authorities, Frankenstein has his freshest body parts yet, and the work begins in earnest...

The Frankenstein in Horror of Frankenstein is charming, humorous and respected (a sort of loveable rogue) - at least before his friends and associates hear about his morbid and immoral experiments.

The characters are interesting; the grave robber and his wife are particularly good, and the lovely young Kate O'Mara as Alys the maid goes from docile and accommodating peasant to jealous scheming bitch, but remains sexy throughout.

The monster itself isn't that frightening, at least not in this day and age. However, rather than the sympathetic creature of the Boris Karloff depiction, here the monster walks straight from the castle and hacks a person to pieces with a shovel, before devouring a wild animal. So it is actions that make the monster rather than its appearance.

This is one of the best Hammer films you're likely to see. There are so many good ones, but this is one of a handful which stand out for me. Not because it's scary or bloodthirsty, only well-structured and fun.

The script and the direction is tight, and the actors lend charisma to their characters, ensuring that you enjoy watching them. They all realise, I think, that the most cerebral part of this movie is the monster's brain, but you get the distinct impression they're thoroughly enjoying themselves.

As you would expect, there are no extras aside from the theatrical trailer, only a jolly fine film. Highly recommended.

Ty Power

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