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The Horror Of Frankenstein (1970)

His teachers would never approve

Directed by:

Jimmy Sangster

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 92 minutes

UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom

Victor Frankenstein must surely be one of the movie industry’s most over-used characters. Hammer studios alone somehow managed to scrape eight separate flicks out of Mary Shelley’s monstrous novel, of which this one is quite possibly the most bizarre.

Ralph Bates gets to try his hand at playing the slimily homicidal Baron of the title this time round, approaching the role with tongue firmly in cheek. The local buxom wenches are absolutely gutted (as if) when the Frankster leaves town to study Biology in Vienna, but he’s soon on his way back when he realises his particular line of interest is much better suited to the home. It seems the Uni profs take a dim view of slaughtering innocent passers-by and using their body parts to create a hulking man-monster. Can’t think why that would be.

So, with the company of feeble-minded mate Wilhelm (Graham James) and castle strumpet Alys (yes, that IS Kate O’Mara), Frankie sets about building the man of his dreams, as it were. Of course, as we all know by now, ol’ big head comes to life, breaks loose and proceeds to wander around smashing stuff. The police take their time in smelling a rat, but they get there eventually.

Watched these days, it’s difficult to tell which parts are deliberately light-hearted and which parts are unintentionally daft. But you’ll certainly get more chortles out of it than you will shivers, with director Jimmy Sangster showing very little of the implied gore on-screen (it’s only got a ‘12’ certificate), and the bulk of the horror aspect taking a back-seat to ambling depictions of wee Victor’s schooldays and interactions with various suspicious locals. In fact, the monster itself doesn’t get to stretch its legs until the last 25 minutes.

There is, however, a surprisingly curt and almost anti-climactic ending to all of this monster madness – it certainly caught this reviewer out.

It's Got: Dave "Darth Vader" Prowse as the monster, and Veronica Carlson as a woman whose chat-up line is "I’m considered quite a catch in some quarters." Modesty gets you nowhere.

It Needs: To take a darker, more atmospheric approach – it’s hard to imagine this one ever coming across as scary.

DVD Extras Just a trailer. ‘The Horror of Frankenstein’ is one of five movies included on the ‘Hammer Horror Selection’ box-set, which also features ‘The Devil Rides Out’, ‘Lust for a Vampire’, ‘Scars of Dracula’ and ‘Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb’. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, The Curse of Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein

Summary

An occasionally funny, but largely uninteresting take on a story we’ve seen far too many times before.

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