Frankenstein Created Woman Blu-ray Review
Directed by Terence Fisher
Written by John Elder
1967, Region A, 92 Minutes, Not rated
Blu-ray released on January 28th, 2014
Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein
Susan Denberg as Christina
Thorley Walters as Doctor Hertz
Robert Morris as Hans
Although there are many merits to exploitive gore-fests with no rhyme or reason or plot line more detailed than "this guy's bad and he kills a bunch of people," it is refreshing to see a film that tries for more complexity. Frankenstein Created Woman attempts to dig deeper than the reanimation of flesh and bone and show the viewers what happens when you tamper with a human's soul. Its metaphysical slant makes it noteworthy in the Frankenstein universe, but its somewhat haphazard execution causes it to fall a little short. It is still a memorable, exciting film, but quite frankly (cough), it could have been better.
After a father is convicted for murder and sentenced to death by guillotine, he saunters to his death drunk and defiant. When he sees that his young son, Hans, is onlooking from the field, he breaks his display and screams for his executioners to spare his boy of the sight. The priest tries to save Hans from seeing his father's decapitation, but he manages to catch a glimpse in the final moment, which is a decision that haunts him forever. Years later, Hans is working alongside Doctor Hertz as an assistant for Baron Frankenstein. In the process of discovering a way to capture the soul of a deceased body, the Baron discovers that he can take one soul and transfer it to another body successfully. Although Hans is busy working for Frankenstein, he primarily concerns his time with Christina, the daughter of an innkeeper. She is beautiful, but the left side of her face is scarred and partially paralysed, which is a plight for her self-esteem made worse when three drunken men come to the inn and make fun of her ruthlessly. Hans defends his love by fighting the men, but when they return later that night and beat Christina's father to death, Hans is accused of the murder due to his father's legacy. Once Christina finds out that her beau has died the same way his father did, she commits suicide by drowning herself. With two people dead but Christina's body salvaged, Baron Frankenstein uses his new-found technology to combine Hans' soul and the Christina's body. She awakes completely unaware of who she is, but with Hans' soul driving her and the remnants of Christina in her heart, the young couple exact revenge on the men who wronged them.
Frankenstein Created Woman asks undoubtedly interesting questions that had not been addressed in prior Frankenstein films. The Godlike persona of the kooky doctor paired with his repeated tragic endings warned its audience to not meddle with human life, and although his creations have been sad characters with inherently sad souls, there hadn't been a flat out question of what happens if he could interfere with just the soul. This foundation in the film makes it worth watching in and of itself, but because of a shaky execution (that makes the film fairly difficult to summarize without giving away major plot points), a viewer can get the feeling like the writer didn't really know how he wanted to end the film, so he just stapled on "and then, and then, and THEN.." until he wrote himself into a corner (ala Lost). This is not a bad movie and its revenge aspect is entertaining to watch, but it is a weaker story in a strong franchise.
Video and Audio:
Presented in 1:77:1, the film is beautifully rendered and sharp instead of grainy. The colour scheme has a lot of magenta and purple tones, which softens it to the point where it's even more unsettling when the blood starts to fly.
The DTS-HD 2.0 soundtrack is acceptable because it allows it to remain steady in volume as compared to being too loud or too quiet.
This disc also has English subtitles for the deaf or hard of hearing.
The audio commentary features actors Derek Fowlds, Robert Morris, and moderated by Jonathan Rigby. The three gentlemen are incredibly charming and genuinely funny as they recall their experiences working with the legendary Peter Cushing and the beautiful Susan Denberg. The quips and jokes from Morris in particular are worthy of tons of honest laughs, such as when he was speaking about something else and then got distracted by his own face first appearing on screen.
There are two World of Hammer episodes included in the special features that are about a half an hour each. The first is entitled "The Curse of Frankenstein" and the second is entitled "Hammer Stars: Peter Cushing." Both are styled as short documentaries about the Frankenstein story and Peter Cushing, respectively. The episodes are interesting for fans of either, but due to the fact that they are primarily composed of clips instead of facts, I can't imagine someone who's even mildly ambivalent about the topics finding them very fascinating.
There is also a documentary called Hammer Glamour that is just under an hour. The feature has interviews of several Hammer women who were known for their sex appeal and beauty. Women like Vera Day discuss their similar feelings about the business, in how they acknowledge their beauty but tend to mildly resent the dunderheaded persona that their characters often had. They don't speak ill of Hammer, but they make little jokes about their characters having their breasts out all of the time. The women are funny, smart and as gorgeous as ever, making this documentary an enjoyable watch.
This Blu-ray disc also features the original trailer as well as a stills gallery. This copy of the disc also includes collectable cards that have promo photos from the film, advertisements and headshots.
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