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Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)

Starring Peter Cushing, Francis Matthews, Eunice Gayson, Michael Gwynn, John Welsh
Directed by Terence Fisher
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Victor Frankenstein escapes his planned execution and resettles in the village of Carlsbruck, where he continues his experiments, obtaining human limbs from his work at a hospital for the poor.

Peter Cushing returns as Victor Frankenstein in Hammer's first followup to the successful The Curse Of Frankenstein, and improves on his original experiment by stitching together a handsome man (Michael Gwynn) to reanimate with the brain of his willing crippled assistant.  It's a tremendous idea by screenwriter Jimmy Sangster to take things in a new direction by introducing a "monster" who can pass for normal, and when tragedy strikes, we feel empathy for him, thanks to Gwynn's quality performance.  The other cast, anchored by Cushing's solid reprisal of Frankenstein, are fine as well, including Matthews as a respected doctor who gives up his career to become the Baron's pupil.  Though production designer Bernard Robinson and cinematographer Jack Asher return from the first film, it looks very different, capturing the grungier setting of the hospital and its unclean patients.  Leonard Salzedo's music isn't the equal of James Bernard's score for the initial film, but is very effective during Gwynn's attacks and is used perfectly during the opening credits as the tolling bell for the Baron's execution is slowly accompanied by escalating notes of menace.  Director Terence Fisher guides all these elements through a satisfying sequel, which clearly would not be the last.

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