One really needs to acknowledge just how good Peter Cushing is in these films. I always feel like he’s slightly underrated compared to the sexier, knighted, longer lived, Christoper Lee. But unlike Lee, you never see him in a movie where he really and genuinely cannot be bothered. Cushing always shows up, always gives his best. And as Baron Frankenstein – certainly in this film, and if memory serves the others as well – gives a portrayal that’s brimming with scary intensity. A dedication to a warped cause, which only has charm and a large vocabulary to hide away just how psychotic he is.
A more accurate title for THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (where revenge is mentioned, but nothing is said to show what measures of revenge Frankenstein might be taking) would be THE TRAGEDY OF KARL. Karl is the Hammer version of Igor, the man who rescued the Baron from the execution he seemingly suffered at end of the last film, and now wants Frankenstein to put his brain into a new, more perfect body. Obviously it’s going to go wrong, quite evidently it’s going to end badly. But the fact that we know this adds a frisson of cruel fate which makes for a gripping and affecting piece.
On the gore front a mild film, certainly more so than that poster above suggests. (I think if you go and see it alone, you’ll probably be okay.) But even though this is the kind of film they can now easily show on Zone Horror pre-watershed, it’s a first rate horror nonetheless.
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