SYNOPSIS Convicted of bodysnatching, Dr Simon Helder (Shane Briant (opens in new tab)) is sentenced to an insane asylum. On arrival, he recognises the resident surgeon as the infamous Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing (opens in new tab)), who has been hiding out there under the guise of Dr Carl Victor.
He also discovers that Frankenstein has been assembling a new creature using the body of an insane murderer (David Prowse (opens in new tab)), the brain of a musical and mathematical genius (Charles Lloyd Pack) and the hands of a sculptor (Bernard Lee). Unable to operate himself due to his hands having been burnt, Frankenstein has been relying on his mute assistant Sarah (Madeline Smith (opens in new tab)) to stitch the body parts together. Now he turns to Helder for help.
The operation is a success, but the creature (Prowse) is torn between the conflicting aspects of itself – an intelligent, artistic person imprisoned in the body of a murderous hulk. Escaping from its cell, the creature then sets out to hunt down those who abused him – starting with the asylum’s corrupt director (John Stratton)…
THE LOWDOWN Filmed in September 1972, but not released until May 1974, this was the last of Hammer’s long-running series of Frankenstein films that had started with 1957’s The Curse of Frankenstein (opens in new tab), and was 68-year-old director Terence Fisher (opens in new tab)’s final feature film. Fans and critics also consider it to be a gloriously gory swan song to the studio’s classic gothic era.
Its also notable for that fact that Peter Cushing (played his mad Baron for he sixth time) and David Prowse (who had also played the creature in Hammer’s 1970 spoof The Horror of Frankenstein) would re-unite four years later, playing two of the most iconic villains in the cinematic galaxy – Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader - in Star Wars.
As a Hammer horror fan, I relish each new restoration from the studios horror archives. But the best thing is that these Blu-ray releases are also giving new audiences the opportunity to appreciate the class and care that went into these films.
THE UK RELEASE Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is out on Blu-ray/DVD Double Play from 28 April 2014 (opens in new tab) in the UK from Icon Home Entertainment. For more about the film and the Blu-ray release, check out this fuller review (click here (opens in new tab)). http://youtube.com/v/IEcqCXkemMU
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