26 November 2014

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)
98 min.
Directed by Terence Fisher.
With Peter Cushing, Veronica Carlson, Simon Ward, Freddie Jones, Thorley Walters, Maxine Audley, George Pravda, Geoffrey Bayldon.
This fifth entry in Hammer's successful Frankenstein series showcases Cushing in his most unapologetically evil incarnation.

Ever on the lam, Baron Frankenstein (now hopelessly deranged) wants to continue his "progressive" experiments in body reanimation and organ transpants.

But in order to do so, he needs some answers from previous colleague Dr. Brandt (Pravda).

And so the Baron enlists the aid of unwilling innkeeper Anna (Carlson) and her fiancee Karl (Ward) - he blackmails them - and sets about kidnapping his old friend Brandt.

But when the kidnapping goes awry, and Brandt's body proves unusable, the Baron has no choice but to transplant the former's brain into a new body. Will this work, or will it create yet another monster hellbent on vengeance?

Cushing is a full-steam train that's jumped the tracks here, as he clearly chooses to up the Baron's ruthlessness several notches. We found Anna's rape scene shocking; it's both uncharacteristic of the Baron, and of Hammer in general.

Yet, strangely, it works, if you consider the studio's Frankenstein films as serials, with the Baron increasingly desperate to achieve his scientific goals...and ironically to prove himself *not* mad.

As always, director Fisher does a wonderful job, sustaining an enthusiastic pace, getting the most out of his cast, and painting the whole thing with a loving palette.

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