Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

Peter Cushing is Victor Frankenstein in the interesting fourth entry to Hammer's Frankenstein series. UK R2 Warner Brothers DVD.

The Film

With the return of their Dracula franchise the year before with Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), it was only fair that in 1967 Hammer would bring the infamous Baron (Peter Cushing) back to try his hand once again at creating life. Frankenstein Created Woman appears to follow on from Evil of Frankenstein (1964) in that the Baron has burnt hands, his reputation does not seem to have followed him unlike in Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) where he is forced to use an alias.

Back in Hammer's own Middle Europe again, we find the Baron up to his old tricks with yet another new set of assistants, the older Doctor Hertz (Thorley Walters) and a young man named Hans. The Baron has had himself frozen for an hour then brought back life, proof it would seem that the soul remains in the body after death, and he constucts a device that will allow a soul to be stored indefintely. To celebrate, the doctors send Hans into town, here we meet the other key characters: the café landlord, his attractive but scarred daughter Christina and a trio of 'ruffians' - Anton, Karl and Johann - the ultra-posh and snobbish sons of village leaders they push their weight around and after breaking into the cafe at night to quench their thirst, they are disturbed by the landlord, and in a panic beat him to death. Unfortunately, evidence at the scene points to Hans being the murderer and he is subject to a trial followed by execution. In her horror, Christina, who had been in a relationship with Hans, drowns herself. Seeing an opportunity, the Baron captures the soul of the newly executed Hans, and after repairing the body of Christina, transfers his soul into her body with unfortunate consequences...
Despite some reservation from the censors about the gender-mix script elements, the film was allowed to proceed and works well, Anthony Hind's script is especially interesting. Diverging from the usual Frankenstein story line, building or rebuilding a body, the Baron is instead working in the meta-physical field, and investigating the soul. How his machine works is never explained, and probably for the better, it avoids unnecessary psycho-babble. On the down side, the script is slow at times, and very little happens throughout much of the film, picking up only towards the end, even then, the climax is a distinct understatement. Interestingly, Anthony Hinds seems to have reused some of the concept for Hammer's fourth Dracula entry, Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), the three rich men beating a man to death with their canes, only to be revenged.

Terence Fisher directs again and brings his usual assured style to the film, although we get less tracking shots in this film than some of the earlier pictures, possibly due to the smaller sets. However, he does seem to have taken a lead from Freddy Francis' book, and we get a few interesting camera angles. James Bernard is on the score and gives a nice couple of themes that add good backing to the piece. As the 1960s progressed, the censors became a little more liberal, and we get a good splattering of blood in this film. Nothing approaching many of the films in the 1970s, but it is much more noticeable than before. Nudity however is still taboo.

Frankenstein Created Woman boasts a strong, and well performing cast. Peter Cushing is back as the Baron and has returned to the style of the original film, although not a heartless monster by any means, he does not have time for trifling emotions, and sees the death of Hans as an opportunity to be exploited rather than mourned. Thorely Walters (fresh from his role as Ludwig in Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), and later to star in Vampire Circus (1972)) plays a very good assistant to the Baron, and his convenient presence for some plot exposition gives the pair a Holmes and Watson vibe. Incidentally, Cushing had already played the famous detective in Hammer's Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) directed by Fisher and was shortly to play him again in a BBC TV series, while Walters had previously played Watson against Christopher Lee's Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962), also directed by Terence Fisher.

Susan Denham is well cast as Christina. Although notable mostly for her 1966 appearance in Playboy magazine, she does give a good acting turn both as the shy disfigured girl in the beginning and the sexy seductress at the end. The rest of the cast perform well, look out for Derek Fowlds as one of the ruffians, he is known to many British television viewers as Bernard in the seminal Yes Minister (1980 - 1987), his co-star in that series, Paul Eddington would appear in The Devil Rides Out (1968).

In all, Frankenstein Created Woman is a decent film although it does lack a spark that would be seen in the next sequel, Frankenstein Must be Destroyed (1969). It is a watchable film, even if it doesn't hold up to repeat viewings, and is certainly worth watching for fans of the series, probably not as enjoyable if watched on its own.

In brief:

Anyone famous in it? Peter Cushing - Hammer's biggest name, also starred in Shock Waves (1977)
Directed by anyone interesting? Terence Fisher - One of Hammer's top directors.
Is it scary?Not really.
Any violence? A few fist fights and some blood.
Any sex? Implied but not seen.
Who is it for?
Fans of the series should certainly track this one down, but not worth seeing on its own.
Good soundtrack? James Bernard gives a usual decent orchestral score.


Visuals Original Aspect Ratio  - 1.66:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour
The picture quality is good, some very light grain and print damage throughout.
Audio Original English mono - Dolby Digital - sounds great, no hiss.
Subtitles None
Run TimeMain Feature: 1hr 27m 51s (PAL)
Extras None.
      Region Region 2 - PAL
      Other regions? Region 0 USA release and Region 2 German release, both have trailers and World of Hammer episode.
      Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print used is English language.



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      All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 27th January 2006.
      Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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