Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)

Posted: March 23, 2013 in Movie Review
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Frankenstein Must be Destroyed

Directed By: Terence Fisher

Starring: Peter Cushing, Veronica Carlson, George Pravda, Freddie Jones, Maxine Audley, Simon Ward

Subgenre: Gothic

Synopsis: Dr Frankenstein continues his experiments in brain surgery and transplants.

Thoughts: The word Hammer just exudes atmosphere to me.  I have always been a huge fan of the Universal classics and Hammer has been the lone studio to treat those classic stories with the continual reverence in which they deserve.  Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed is no different and is actually Hammer’s fifth Frankenstein film.

Much of Hammer’s strength lies within its actors, primarily Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.  It’s not a stretch to say that Lee made his mark as a villain while Cushing served as his foil. For my money, Peter Cushing IS Van Helsing, cutting through the night and hunting Dracula.  The fact that he plays a rather unhinged and manipulating Dr Frankenstein is a great departure for his norm and makes this worth seeing.  Even though Lee and Cushing are considered Hammer’s key actors, they seem to always supply amazing supporting actors.  I don’t know if this has to do with England’s long tradition in stage acting or what, but you can be fairly certain that a Hammer movie is not going to feature second rate acting.

If Lee and Cushing are Hammer’s flagship actors, then Terence Fisher is certainly their flagship Director.  The list of movies he made for the studio is long and contains some of their biggest hits, both commercially and critically.  This is one of his last movies, and by now he had learned that atmosphere is key and to let his stars work their magic, which is exactly what he does.  This isn’t his best work, but he is a master of his craft, and it shows even here.

For most horror fans I’ve met, you either dig Hammer movies or you don’t.  If you like old school horror, steeped in tradition and atmosphere, then this is a label you have probably already explored.  If not, you need to check Hammer out.  I wouldn’t start here, but it is a worthy stop along the journey.

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