I appreciate the finer things in life: good wine, intelligent conversation, travel, books, a really good burger, issues of "BATMAN" written by Denny O'Niel. And when I find the REAL THING, the genuine article of something, I taste it. It rings true like fine crystal. It's an epiphany. Such is the case with 1974's FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL, a glorious Hammer production starring the one and only PETER CUSHING. Many critics have panned it, saying it's the worst in Hammer's Frankenstein series. I disagree. This movie is SICK! SICK! SICK! MAGNIFICENTLY DISEASED!
Check this out. Shane Briant plays a young member of the gentry who re-creates some of Dr. Frankenstein's experiments. He's caught and sent to a horrible snake-pit for the criminally insane, which is run by... DOCTOR FRANKENSTEIN!!! YES!! PETER CUSHING AS DOCTOR FRANKENSTEIN, RUNNING A PRISON FULL OF WONDERFULLY TRANSPLANTABLE, CUT-UP-ABLE, LOONEY-TOONS!!!! Does life get any better?!!!!! And here's where things get REALLY TWISTED... Dr. Frankenstein is the nicest, most sane person in the whole nut-hatch. He cares about the inmates, gives them adequate medical attention, and protects them from the sadistic, rapist, asylum director.
This is one of Peter Cushing's greatest moments; he projects this incredilble civility and refinement as he's sawing open craniums for the obligatory brain transplant scenes. He's quietly mad, deliciously nuts. Everything he does makes perfect sense in the pursuit of an insane goal. And the way he talks about stitching together a dead body makes the whole idea seem... not quite so insane. And the monster he stictches together is pretty cool, too. A big, hairy, neolithic throwback with the strength of a bull and, of course, the brain of a genius tossed in for good measure. The monster is played by David Prowse, who went on to play Darth Vader beside Cushing's Grand Moff Tarkin a few years later in STAR WARS.
And the ending... oh man... the ending is sick enough to freak out Jame Gumm. FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL is available on video, and shows up on cable TV once in a while. On our Headbanger scale of 1-4, FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL gets four huge Headbangs.
Copyright 1996 Michael Marano
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