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Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1974)


Cast:

Peter "Grand Moff Tarkin for you Philistines out there..." Cushing is Baron Frankenstein
Shane "I was in Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, too" Briant is Dr. Simon Helder
David "Darth Vader" Prowse is the monster


What the box says:

Baron Frankenstein is dead, right? That's precisly what he wants folks to think. He's had it up to here with a public that doesn't appreciate the trouble a mad scientist goes through to snatch good body parts. To carry on his work, he holes up in a place where the possibilites are utterly maddening: a home for the criminally insane. A hand here. A brain there. True to form, the Baron (Peter Cushing) keeps his gruesome creation (David Prowse, widely known for his later portrayls of Darth Vader) in stitches in this sixth and final frightfest in Hammer Films' Frankenstein cycle.


Plot:

Grave digging by night, no good can come of it. The local constable on patrol hears a commotion. The grave robber gets the corpse and distracts the cop to escape. He gets the corpse to Simon Helder. Grave robber warns him of being caught. The corpse snatcher may be scared of Helder’s work but still wants his pay.

Grave robber heads to the nearby pub. The cop comes in. The grave robber wants to tell him something before going to jail.

Simon is in his lab with his “Collected Works of Baron Frankenstein.” He sees the cops approach. The lab work is covered up. The cop knocks on the door but eventually breaks it while Simon hides in the dark room. The cop lights a nearby lamp, finding the stolen corpse. Simon is still hiding as the cop picks up a jar of eyes. Wonder if they’ll get dropped? Simon makes his appearance. And the eyes are promptly dropped on the floor.


Why you shouldn't spill a jar of eyes on the floor.
Simon is worried about them. The cop wants to know what the bodies are about to be used for? Simon calmly explains he’ll stitch them together to create a new man. The cop arrests him for sorcery.

At the trial, the judge lectures Simon for his vile crime. We learn that Simon is actually a medical doctor. Frankenstein was sentenced by the same court years ago. Dr. Simon will be sent to the state asylum for 5 years before checking if he is to be released.

Simon is taken to the asylum. He is shackled and taken inside. Simon manages to meet the director. Simon starts questioning the director, who thinks Simon is an inspecting doctor. Learns that Frankenstein died years ago. The director is angry when learning that Simon is an inmate.

Simon is taken away by the attendants. He is to be initiated. The inmates are brought in to watch Simon. Simon’s shirt is ripped off and he is hosed down with a high pressure hose. The inmates think this is funny except for dark headed chick. Simon is starting to bleed from his back. When Peter Cushing arrives to save the day, he sends the patients away. He has Sarah, the dark headed chick to take Simon and patch him up. Peter has a talk with the attendants.

Peter Cushing marches to the director’s office, chewing him out. The attendants outside overhear the argument. Peter sends, Gerda, the girl the director was examining back to her room. Cushing threatens to leave Frankenstein is dead; he can leave whenever he wants to leave. He came to complain about the treatment of Simon. The attendants are brought in to be punished. The director is Peter Cushing’s boy. Cushing came back early because the medical supplies last shipment weren’t paid for yet. Director explains how the state is specific in what it pays for. The director is embezzling funds for himself. He will take care of the medical supply payments by tomorrow. Cushing leaves.

Simon is being bandaged by Sarah. She doesn’t answer him. Peter Cushing arrives and fixes Simon a drink. He starts checking Simon’s reflexes. Sarah leaves. Simon knows he is Frankenstein. Cushing explains that Frankenstein is dead. He is Dr. Carl Victor. Victor has enough material to blackmail the director and the staff. Simon is to assist him with his practice. Simon will take over tending to the inmates. Victor will spend more time on his private work.

The director meets Cushing who has found an assistant. The director is less than happy to learn it is Simon.

Cushing and Sarah show Simon around. Sarah will aid Simon when duties don’t have her aid Cushing.

Cushing watches as Simon begins treating the patients. Some patients Dr. Victor will keep treating. Simon is showed these special patients. 1 is super strong before he died. Another is a professor that seems very educated. Dr. Victor claims he attacked the director. The next is skilled carver whose brain has atrophied. All the patients think highly of Sarah.

Simon is to now take care of the regular patients.

That night, Simon hears Dr. Victor working. The next morning, Simon sees a funeral in the cemetery. A pallbearer trips, topples the coffin. It is the dead carver with both of his hands missing. Dr. Victor gets the lid back on the coffin. Simon realizes that Peter Cushing is back up to his old tricks.

Night, the violin playing professor hears other inmates.

Simon is taking a walk and goes to the examining room. He starts looking for a secret passage but gives up. Sarah leaves the passageway. He follows her back inside. Sarah runs away. Simon looks at the medical diagrams of brains when Peter Cushing arrives demanding to know what he’s doing. Simon has figured out that Frankenstein is back to his old tricks. Cushing reveals his latest creation using the body of the super-strong inmate that died. Simon knows the carver’s hands were put on the body.

Simon looks over the Monster from Hell. We learn that Cushing is unable to operate with his scarred hands. Sarah followed Cushing’s directions for the surgery. Simon wants to help him with this experiment.

The surgery begins as Cushing oversees Simon. Cushing later inspects new eyes for the creature.


Eye pick you.

Creature has the new eyes transplanted. Cushing is happy with Simon’s surgical skill.


Just pop it back in...

Creature awakens seeing Sarah in the distance. Simon and Cushing are working. Everyone sees the Creature is awake and the eye transplants seem to be working fine. Cushing gasses the Creature to sleep.

Cushing explains the Creature hates him for keeping him alive. The next stage requires the brain of a genius to be transplanted into the Creature. The only genius around is Professor Durandel who could live for another 10, 20 years. Simon is shocked that the Durandel would be killed to get his brain. Cushing would never kill to get the professor’s brain.

Attendant brings a meal to Durandel, discovering the professor has hanged himself.

Simon tells Cushing about the apparent suicide of Durandel. They spring into action. Simon begins the brain transplant, removing the Durandel’s brain. Cushing watches anxiously as Simon cuts the brain free. The brain is placed in aquarium like jar temporarily.

Hours later, Simon finds a note for Durandel stating he’ll never leave the asylum. The note provoked him to commit suicide because Cushing needed his brain.

Transplant the brain to the Creature. It will take some time before they learn if the operation was a success. Simon leaves to get some rest while Cushing waits to see it everything he’s done over the years will be justified by his creation.

Creature awakens with the Durandel’s brain. He realizes this is not his hands or body. He stumbles through the lab and sees his face. Sarah runs off to alert Cushing. Cushing, Simon, and Sarah find Durandel downcast before he talks with Cushing.

Simon wants to celebrate Cushing’s accomplishment. Professor Creature keeps questioning why he was made.

Professor Creature tries playing the violin. But, he tears it apart in the process. Cushing wants to keep Durandel’s mind sharp by relearning to write in his new body. Cushing orders him around all the time.

The experiment is a failure. The body is rejecting Durandel’s brain. Simon goes to check of Professor Creature. He is obviously attracted to Sarah. She leaves the lab.

Creature tries throwing glass barely missing Simon. Cushing comes to the rescue. Ever want to see Peter Cushing ride Piggy-back on Darth Vader? Here’s your chance. Cushing gasses the Creature unconscious. Durandel is caged again.

Cushing has a deep revelation. The body is taking over the brain. He has a new idea: mate the Creature with Sarah. Sarah is mute by traumatic stress. Her father tried to rape her. Simon will take Sarah to the Director for protection. Cushing reveals she is the director’s daughter. Durandel attacked the Director after learning it himself. Cushing is using it to blackmail the Director to do whatever he needs done. Cushing heads to town.

Creature is in the cage. Simon tries talking with him. Simon gets the Creature his food but spikes it with poison first. Creature greedily eats before falling over. Simon grabs a scalpel to jimmy the lock open. Creature grabs Simon. Sarah arrives and actually speaks for the first time in the movie ordering him to release Simon. Sarah and Simon get out of there.

Sarah wants Simon to get help. Cushing returns discovering the Creature is free. Attendants spot the Creature outside digging up graves. The inmates are loose, too. It’s a genuine madhouse without John Laroquette.

Director and his trollop come to the asylum for a night of festivities. Attendants tell him about someone demolishing graves. He sees the Creature in the cemetery, too. The director has the guards get guns from the armory to kill the monster.

Director is loading up on liquid courage. Creature breaks into his office, killing him.

Inmates see the Creature. Attendants open fire hitting the Creature. Simon holds Sarah safely away. Creature holds it hand out for Sarah to touch. The inmates attack the Creature fearing for Sarah’s safety.

Cushing orders the inmates to stop. Seeing the dead Creature, he has the inmates return to their cells. Simon helps to bandage Cushing’s arm.

Cushing considers the next experiment with Simon’s help. He begins cleaning the lab up.


What I say:

Rogue Reviewers Roundtable

Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell, one of the last Hammer Studios movies and one of the worst movie titles. The international version is 99 minutes instead of the 93 minute version like this one. Apparently, those 6 minutes kick the gore level up a few notches. I've heard that Peter Cushing holds a vein in his mouth. This is the 7th Hammer Frankenstein movie and the 5th Terence Fisher directed. Fisher is almost synonomyous with Hammer movies. He directed the original Hammer versions of the Mummy, Dracula, and Frankenstein. The Hammer Frankenstein movies may not go out on a high-note but certainly with a bang not a whimper.

As a service to my hopefully my ten of fans who might wonder what movies are in the Hammer Frankenstein series. The following list is for you.

NameYear
Curse of Frankenstein 1957
Revenge of Frankenstein 1958
Evil of Frankenstein 1964
Frankenstein Created Woman 1967
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed 1970
Horror of Frankenstein 1970
Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell 1974

The idea that Frankenstein has faked his death and is now using an insane asylum for a lab hasn't been done in other movies. It does offer some protection from those local villagers that would normally storm the local patrician's castle. But, could you imagine an escaped patient trying to tell the locals townsfolk that the asylum's doctor is Frankenstein who is sewing corpses together to create a new being? Frankenstein would have automatic deniability. There is a sort of inhereit distrust of nobility. Even something so outlandish doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility. Think of celebrities as new nobility. Isn't Michael Jackson considered pretty strange? If there was a rumor of him trying to do something like Frankenstein, it sounds outlandish enough to beconsidered among the aliens that landed in trailer park.

And as much as people have inhereit distrust of hospitals, funeral homes, etc...Phantasm gives us enough reason to be afraid of funeral homes and cloaked midgets. Halloween 2 isn't that great but those long barely lit hallways seem empty without some kind of Shape cruising them. Wouldn't an asylum be on the top list of places people don't want to go? Granted, asylums are nowhere as bad as they were in the 1950s let alone the 1850s. The attendants seem worse than any of the patients in this movie.

The creature had a strange resemblance to the Toxic Avenger without a mop. The screen cap above isn't very clear. Actually, there weren't very many really clear scenes of the monster. In fact, the creature being ripped apart by a flock of insane asylum innates is a let down. A weak monster kill cheapens the entire point of running from the monster. A monster should have an epic demise not anything like the Nasty Death Proviso for human villains. Look at the Queen Alien from Aliens, sucked out of cargo chamber from decompression. That's better than a monster flattened by a semi...

I've seen a few other movies with Shane Briant. Unfortunately, he wasn't that impressive in Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter. He was a master swordsman but you never saw it anywhere in the movie. But, he comes across a lot more believable as Frankenstein's apprentice. Hammer actually was planning on developing Briant as a new horror leading man. But, the studio went out of business before they could really get him over. And, it is too bad they weren't able to do it. He didn't have the sinister charm of either Cushing or Lee. But, were there really any horror leading men to make a name for themselves in the early to mid 70s? Probably, the closest would be Robert Englund with Freddy and his other numerous horror roles in the 80s and 90s.

David Prowse, the man no one knows until you say Darth Vader. With no telling how much monster effects are on him to make him look hulking, he manages to seem tortured and pathetic. Actually, for years, he was a bodybuilder before getting into Hammer movies. Kind of funny to think that almost every movie he was in you never see what he looks like. Originally, I thought he was just a tall man, not like Angus Scrimm...It is even funnier to realize that Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin made a movie together before a little-known flick called Star Wars.

Peter Cushing had just lost his wife about the time of this movie. That definitely had to affect his performance. He seems more gaunt. It does take a little while before we get to Peter Cushing in this movie. At first, he seems motivated to care for the inmates. He starts off being caring and compassionate to the inmates until he needs them for spare parts. Is that compassionate conserveratism? But, later, we learn they are his spare parts, his body farm. As Frankenstein has found the perfect hiding place to continue his experiments. Continuing to desperately prove his ideas and everything he has done will be justified. Cushing has an air of authority about him in this movie. Everyone automatically sense he is going to order everyone around and to get used to it, too. Cushing does have that a severe case "abrupt Englishness" about him. "Abrupt Englishness" isn't an insult. It is Cushing's air of authority and how he automatically knows what is best for everyone. No matter what anyone else thinks.

Years later, I stumbled across a Peter Cushing movie here and there. Finally, I discovered his Hammer horror movies. Peter Cushing seems to have two types of roles: fearless monster killer or truly mad scientist creating the monster. He was a non-swashbuckling Van Helsing in the Hammer Dracula movies to Christopher Lee's Dracula. Cushing was Frankenstein who tampered in realms best left alone. I do wonder what a Hammer movie would be like with an evil Peter Cushing being opposed by a heroic Christopher Lee. A remake of the Black Cat with Christopher Lee in the Bela Lugosi Role and Peter Cushing in the Boris Karloff role would have been an interesting idea...

There are a lot of sites that tell of the Fall of Hammer Studios which is sort of like the Fall of the House of Usher. This is a movie I'd rather not get into backstory of how Hammer was almost bankrupt at this point. The last gasp of Hammer which revolutionized horror movies from the late 50s on. When Hammer started their Dracula and Frankenstein movies, these definite legends of horror had been relegated to playing second banana to Abbot and Costello. But, they were given new unlife with Christopher Lee bringing new depths to these monsters.

Talk about how certain countries brought horror into a new direction. Italy may be known for an incredible love of zombie and cannibal movies. And they certainly brought more gore into the fold. Japan is pushing the envelope today with movies that no way could have been made here in the US. But what about England? Hammer studios brought a seriousness to horror movies that had become juvenile like I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and I Was a Teenage Werewolf. The viewing public for lack of a better term ate it up. Allowing Hammer to make even more movies featuring the Mummy, etc... Think about some of the actors like Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasence that appeared in so many of these movies. Vampire Lestat whether it is Tom Cruise or Stuart Townsend, all pale before Christopher Lee as a vampire. Can you picture the wise vampire hunter expert without thinking of Peter Cushing, etc? More than that, this was the man who showed us a real mad scientist... It is hard to think of any American mad scientist in the same league with Peter Cushing. Because, frankly Cushing broke the mold.



3 NINJAS

Quotable Dialogue

"If you could only appreciate the difficulty in finding specimens like these."
"You may find it impossible to restrain yourself but, you will not behave like an animal towards my patients."
"An exhumation might prove valuable."
"You beastly twitch."
"Never use a dirty instrument!"
"When the narcosis wears off, we shall see."
"The man becomes a cabbage."
"Some of their antics are very droll, believe me."


Morals of the Story

Cops routinely patrol cemetaries.
Jar of human eyes add to the atmosphere of a mad scientist lab.
1800's insane asylums had high pressure water hoses.
1800s insane asylums have a readily-available supply of human eyes.
Brains can be kept in aquarium tanks.


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