Frankenstein Created Woman

Frankenstein Created Woman


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

In the original Frankenstein, the monster begged his erstwhile master to create a female version of himself sop that he could live as others did and be happy. The baron refused, fearing that they would spawn a race of monsters. In 1935, James Whale finally granted his wish on celluloid, but not with he result he had hoped for. In this 1967 Hammer Horror classic, a fresh incarnation of the baron finally brings monster and mate together - in a quite unexpected way.

Hans (Robert Morris) is the son of an executed murderer, an outcast in his village but happily taken on by the baron (Peter Cushing) as a lab assistant. Christina (Susan Denberg) is the apple of his eye, an assistant in her father's café. Though she is stigmatised by others because she's disabled and facially disfigured, Hans has no difficulty recognising her beauty. But when he leaps to her aid one night after she is bullied by the local branch of the Bullingdon Club (one of whom is played by Derek Fowlds, who would graduate to the civil service for Yes Minister), he finds himself in too deep. Framed for murder, he is taken to the guillotine. Christina doesn't long outlive him. But the baron, of course, has conquered death...

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Echoing Georges Franju's magnificent Eyes Without A Face and looking forward to The Skin I Live In, this film extends the Frankenstein myth by way of the notion that a body and a soul are needed but can come from different people - in this case, Hans' soul in Christina's (now beautified) body. The cross-gender idea is interesting but underexplored, though the baron's assistant (a jarringly camp Thorley Walters) is unable to relate to the creature as anything but female because of its appearance, despite knowing its origins. There's a hint that something of Christina remains tied to the flesh, but that it is naturally dominated by the male part, ultimately in a ghoulish and entirely unhinged Summer Of Sam style. At any rate, both parts are after revenge, and three ill-mannered toffs are about to have a very bad week.

Though the drama is crudely drawn with familiar Hammer strokes, this is a film that benefits from both tight scripting and a willingness to push boundaries. Its equivocal take on justice gives it a distinctive character for the period, some of its scenes are shockingly brutal and it has a way of pulling back from kitsch melodrama to ugly realism that can be appropriately disorientating. Denberg, though clearly cast in part for her resemblance to Brigitte Bardot (there being a number of jokes at the expense of And God Created Woman), works well in the central role, though she doesn't have as much to work with as she might. Sadly we see far too little of Cushing, perhaps because when he does appear he effortlessly steals every scene, threatening to break the fourth wall with dismissiveness of the villagers' attitudes that comes close to dismissiveness of the whole set-up. Next to his performance, the rest of the film looks weak, but taken on its own merits it's a strong contribution to the Frankenstein legacy.

Reviewed on: 29 Jul 2012
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An experiment by the famous Baron Frankenstein goes awry when his creation seeks revenge on past tormentors.
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Director: Terence Fisher

Writer: Anthony Hinds

Starring: Peter Cushing, Susan Denberg, Thorley Walters, Robert Morris, Peter Blythe, Barry Warren, Derek Fowlds

Year: 1967

Runtime: 86 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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