• Evil Of Frankenstein, The

    Released by: Anolis
    Released on: May 29th, 2015.
    Director: Freddie Francis
    Cast: Peter Cushing, Peter Woodthorpe, Duncan Lamont, Sandor Eles, Katy Wild, Kiwi Kingston
    Year: 1964
    Purchase From Diabolik DVD

    The Movie:

    Directed by Freddie Francis, Hammer’s 1964 film The Evil Of Frankenstein once again stars the great Peter Cushing as the Baron with an unhealthy obsession for reanimating the dead. When the movie begins, his latest experiment is upset and so he and his assistant Hans (Sandor Eles), in need of resources to continue the Baron’s work, head back to his family home. There’s a problem with this idea, however – Frankenstein has been banished from the town of Karslstaad and he is not welcome back. Regardless, he and Hans make the trip but are understandably dismayed to find that the Frankenstein castle has been looted of most of its valuables.

    The Baron hopes to be able to find the monster (Kiwi Kingston) he’s started work on and after some time, get back to work in the basement of the castle. In order to complete this work, however, he’ll need help from a hypnotist named Zoltan (Peter Woodthorpe). The Baron and Hans head to a local carnival to recruit him, but it ends poorly. With some help from a mute beggar girl (Katy Wild) the Baron and Hans are able to once again start up their mad experiments. However, the Burgomaster (David Hutcheson) is now aware of Frankenstein’s return to Karlstaad and is none too happy about it. Oh, and Zoltan? He presents an entirely different set of problems…

    The only Hammer Frankenstein to feature Cushing movie not directed by Terence Fisher, The Evil Of Frankenstein is often maligned by fans as being too derivative of the Universal Frankenstein films, and that’s a pretty fair criticism. Rather than continue the story of the earlier Hammer work, this is essentially a standalone film and one that pretty much plays things straight. Given that Hammer worked alongside Universal on this entry, the studio wasn’t under the sort of legal pressure they were on the earlier efforts to differentiate themselves from the American predecessors. Maybe if they had been, the team at Hammer would have given us a film more original than this one turns out to be.

    Having said all of that, as somewhat generic as Anthony Hinds’ screenplay might be this film is still very much worth seeing. If it cribs from the Universal films, it at least does so with plenty of gothic atmosphere and slick Hammer horror style. The sets occasionally betray their age and budget but for the most part they suit the story quite nicely. There’s all manner of interesting gadgets and background detail to appreciate here, all of which helps to make the film a lot of fun to look at. Not only do we get the great scenes that take place in the creepy old laboratory but we also get some interesting sequences that take place at the travelling carnival (complete with some interesting characters in the background) and that great segment where, when Hans and Cushing are in the beggar’s cave, the monster is found trapped in ice! The visuals in the film are top-notch, with cinematographer John Wilcox really getting the most out of the sets, costumes and colors used throughout the movie.

    As to the performances, they’re better than many would give the film credit for. Sandor Eles isn’t the most dynamic choice for Frankenstein’s assistant but we’re told at one point he sticks with him because he wants to learn from him. This explains his attentive but cold demeanor and in that regard it suits the character. Katy Wild as the mute beggar girl does fine work here. Obviously she has no dialogue but she’s got very expressive eyes and conveys a perpetual state of panic fairly effectively using body language and facial expressions. Her character is kind of unnecessary in a lot of ways and she’s fairly thin as far as character development goes but Wild does as well as anyone could in the part. Kiwi Kingston lumbers around well enough as the box-headed monster (the makeup effects here are pretty uneven, the monster’s face occasionally looking like papier-mâché!) and David Hutcheson is enjoyable, if hammy, as the burgomaster.

    The real stars of the show, however, are Peter Woodthorpe and Peter Cushing. Woodthorpe plays the film’s sleazy hypnotist as just that – sleazy! When he pushes the beggar girl against the wall he not only moves in with a lecher’s gaze but even seems to relish the fact that if he does what he wants to her, she can’t tell anyone. He’s good in the role and a lot of fun to watch. Of course, for most fans the interest will lay in the presence of Peter Cushing and to be sure, he acts circles around pretty much everyone else in the cast. His Frankenstein is fascinating to watch, he’s as determined (and because of this determination, quite menacing) as anyone can be and both willing and able to do whatever he needs to complete his experiments. Cushing brings this to life with class and style while never underplaying the obsessive nature that makes the character so interesting in the first place.


    The Evil Of Frankenstein arrives on Blu-ray from Anolis in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.78.1 widescreen and it looks excellent. Some of the shots in which optical effects are employed look a little softer than others and the enhanced clarity and resolution that the Blu-ray format offers means that some of the effects work sticks out a bit, but that’s really just par for the course. Detail is

    Audio options are provided in English and German DTS-HD 2.0 with optional subtitles available in German only. The English track fares well here, the dialogue is clean and clear and properly balanced and the score has more depth and range than you might expect to hear. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the sound effects have decent presence to them.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary from Doctor. Rolf Giesen and Volker Kronz but unfortunately it is in German language only, there are no English subtitles provided. Thankfully the rest of the supplements are English friendly. The featurettes start off with The Making Of The Evil of Frankenstein, a great piece that was included on the previous UK Blu-ray release. Narrated by Edward DeSouza, this piece is made up of interviews with Don Mingaye, Hugh Harlowe, Pauline Harlow, Caron Gardner and Hammer historian Wayne Kinsey, as well as some nice archival interview clips with the late Peter Cushing. This is a nicely put together piece made up of not only some revealing interviews but also plenty of stills and clips that nicely illustrate the various point made throughout the piece.

    Also included here (and exclusive to this release) is a lengthy thirty-eight minute long piece entitled Uwe Sommerlad In Conversation With Caron Gardner. This is more than just Gardner’s reminiscences about her work on this film but a nice, detailed conversation about her career in general and her thoughts on that movies that she was involved with and the people that she worked alongside while making them. Carried over from the UK Blu-ray release is the two minute A Moment With Caron Gardner segment in which she briefly talks about her work on The Evil Of Frankenstein.

    The disc also includes thirteen minutes of alternate scenes that were made for the US television version of the film, transferred from a 16mm source and offered up in reasonably nice condition exclusive to this release. When the movie played on television all of the more graphic violence was removed from the film and inserts were shot by a completely different crew to pad out the running time. The added scenes include some completely unnecessary subplots such as one where a reporter inquires with a doctor about why it’s such a taboo to bring up Baron Frankenstein , a flashback scene that shows the little girl being terrorized by Frankenstein’s creation causing her to become the deaf mute beggar woman featured in the film proper, a scene in the present in which the beggar woman’s drunken father discusses getting his daughter psychological treatment to help her with her issues. These are quite interesting to see but given that they never really resolve themselves before the film ends, they serve as padding more than anything else.

    Rounding out the extras are a US theatrical trailer, reproductions of the German and US advertising flyers, a reproduction of the original film program booklet, two extensive still galleries of production photos and related ephemera, animated menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Anolis gives The Evil Of Frankenstein a first rate release offering up the film with excellent audio and video quality and a really impressive selection of extra features as well. Few would argue that this is the best of Hammer’s Frankenstein pictures but it’s got its own merits to be sure. It’s fast paced, has loads of atmosphere and it does feature Cushing at the top of his game. The presentation and extras included on the disc make it absolutely worthwhile for anyone with an interest in the film or Hammer Films in general.

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

    And some images from the TV scenes!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      Nice review, Ian, and those screen caps from the television inserts are wonderful.