• Frankenstein Created Woman



    Released by: Millennium Entertainment
    Released on: January 28th, 2014.
    Director: Terence Fisher
    Cast: Peter Cushing, Thorley Walters, Susan Denberg
    Year: 1967
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Terence Fisher in 1967, Frankenstein Created Woman begins when the dead body of Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing), frozen in its coffin, is brought back to life at the hands of his partner in crime, Dr. Hertz (Thorley Walters). Hertz’s theory, now proven correct by his experiment, is that when someone dies their soul does not move on but stays inside the corpse, making re-animation a very real possibility.

    When Hertz’s assistant, Hans (Robert Morris), is accused of killing a bar tender during a heated argument, the resurrected Frankenstein is able to move in shortly after his conviction and subsequent execution and quickly steal the corpse. What most didn’t realize is that all of this was watched with terror by Christina (Susan Denberg) a cripple whose honor Hans was defending against three thugs (Peter Blythe, Barry Warren, Derek Fowlds), the true killers of the barkeep. Hans and Christina had strong feelings for one another and so upset by the slaying of her beloved is Christina that she takes her own life, but she won’t stay dead long. Hertz and Frankenstein, who has been working diligently on a way to capture the soul after death, brings Christina back but with two fairly drastic changes made: he replaces her soul with that of Hans and he performs cosmetic surgery on her. As the resurrected and now stunningly beautiful Christina begins her new life, Hans’ memories take over and she decides to use her second chance to get even with those who had Hans put to death in the first place.

    Frankenstein Created Woman really sees Hammer spread their wings a bit in terms of what they could and would do with the ideas set down in the original source material and the earlier films in their series. While we still get the re-animation/resurrection angles from the earlier films, Fisher makes it very clear here that the Baron is the real monster, not his creations, even if they’re often the ones out committing murder. The storyline asks us to question the morality of the situation in interesting ways and also works some interesting gender issues into the storyline. Not only has Christina come back as a complete bombshell but she’s got just enough of Hans living in her to complicate things. It’s a creative and interesting story and Anthony Hinds’ script gives the principals more to do than they’d have had in a more traditional take on the Frankenstein concept.

    It probably goes without saying to most readers that Cushing is excellent in the lead role here. His genteel manner makes him an interesting choice for a man as enshrouded in darkness as Baron Frankenstein and his commitment to the role is not only admirable but obvious. He puts a lot into his work in this picture, giving it just enough manic energy and enthusiasm as things start to spiral out of control to really make it stand out. He is cold, he is calculating, and he is evil – an affront to all that is good, and Cushing, kind soul in real life that he was, plays the part perfectly. Not to be outdone, Susan Denberg is also very good here. When she sees Hans suffer his fate at the hands of the guillotine, the resulting emotional outpouring is convincing, but on the flip side, so too is the ensuing insanity that results from the results of the Baron’s experiments. The rest of the cast, including most of the supporting players, all do fine work here as well but it’s the work from Cushing and Denberg that really leaves an impression.

    Some of the dubbing that was done in post sticks out a bit and there are some moments where the film’s modest budget shines through in the production values but overall, Frankenstein Created Woman holds up well. The score from James Bernard is also excellent, adding to the drama and tension inherent in the storyline quite effectively. Hammer made a lot of Frankenstein films and this one stands out as one of the more original of the bunchy, a morbid tale of twisted love and unholy horror that moves at a good pace and which features some rock solid direction and two excellent performances.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Frankenstein Created Woman arrives on Blu-ray in North America framed at 1.78.1 widescreen (slightly altered from its original 1.66.1 theatrical aspect ratio though it should be pointed out that the minor reframing doesn't really seem to mess up the compositions much, if at all) in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. This isn’t a reference quality transfer but it is a solid representation of the source material even if it doesn’t look like any extensive restoration work was done. Colors range from quite colorful to a little bit flat looking but skin tones generally look good. There isn’t much in the way of print damage to note outside of some minor specks present throughout – they’re there, but not particularly distracting. Black levels are pretty solid though some compression artifacts can be spotted in some of the darker scenes (Millennium have crammed a lot of stuff onto this single layered disc). Detail and texture are definitely better than what DVD could have provided here. A good transfer of some older source material, but don’t expect to have your jaw hit the floor when you watch it.

    The only audio option for the feature is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix in the film’s native English language. There’s no lossless audio option offered here, unfortunately. The Dolby Digital track sounds fine for the most part, it’s a little flat in spots but the score sounds decent enough as does the dialogue and there are no problems with hiss or distortion. The Australian Blu-ray release’s lossless mix has not been ported over for whatever reason, which is a disappointment. Optional English closed captioning is also offered.

    Extras on the disc start off with a commentary track from actors Derek Fowlds and Robert Morris and moderated by Jonathan Rigby, a well-regarded Hammer expert, which does a fine job of relaying the history of the picture and providing some welcome background and biographical information on those who made it. There’s quite a bit of detail here regarding the production, the sets, the score, the cast and the crew and some interesting critical analysis leant to the merits of Cushing’s performance and Fisher’s direction. It’s a solid track with a lot of good information in it that moves at a good pace and remains a pretty engaging listen from start to finish. Fowls and Morris are able to offer up their own specific recollections of what it was like working on the picture and also share some of their thoughts not just on their collaborators but on the finished product as well.

    Additionally the disc includes a twenty-six minute long World of Hammer Episode entitled The Curse of Frankenstein that serves as a nice look back at the importance of the Frankenstein legacy as it pertains to what Hammer did with its characters and the roles that many of their mainstays played in creating all of this. We also get another World of Hammer Episode, this time running twenty-five minutes and entitled Hammer Stars: Peter Cushing. It’s an excellent look back at the leading man who made so many of their films as popular as they are.

    Millennium have also included a new documentary (well, new in terms of a domestic release – it popped up on the UK Blu-ray release of The Witches) on the disc called Hammer Glamour clocks in at just under forty-five minutes in length. Here we get the chance to sit down with Hammer leading ladies Valerie Leon, Caroline Munroe, Martine Beswicke, Vera Day and Madeline Smith for a retrospective look back at the work they did for the studio in its heyday. It’s a welcome addition to the disc filled with some pertinent clips, archival stills and photos, and of course the firsthand accounts of the experiences these ladies had working on their respective contributions to the studio’s legacy.

    Rounding out the extras are the film’s original theatrical trailer, a pretty extensive animated stills gallery, menus and chapter selection. The disc comes housed inside a slipcase featuring identical cover art and tucked inside the case are a set of collectable insert cards.

    The Final Word:

    Frankenstein Created Woman holds up well decades after it was made thanks to the great work from all involved but particularly from Cushing, Denberg and Fisher. The script is clever and interesting, taking the story in interesting new directions without straying so far from its roots as to alienate its audience. It’s entertaining, atmospheric, and very well made. The Blu-ray release from Millennium once again misses out on a lossless audio option but offers up the movie in a decent transfer and with some quality supplements.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!