Spoiler Alert! I’m going to tell most of the plot of today’s movie. I’m really more interested in commenting about it than in being circumspect.
We continued our enjoyment of Peter Cushing as Dr. Frankenstein with Frankenstein Created Woman (1967).
I was a little disappointed that the movie did not pick up where Revenge of Frankenstein ended. On consulting Leonard Maltin, however (Leonard Maltin’s 2007 Movie Guide, Penguin Group, New York, 2006), I find that this movie is in fact the sequel to Evil of Frankenstein, which I did not see. That explains it.
The movie opens similarly to Revenge, however, with an ominous shot of a guillotine. The intended beheadee this time is not Dr. F but a common or garden thief and murderer. He is laughing at his fate until he sees his son in the distance watching.
The guillotine certainly makes for a chilling beginning, especially when we see the bloody blade being raised after the head drops. The guillotine, of course, was an efficient means of execution. That guy with the big ax sometimes missed, I’ve read. But guy with ax or guillotine, one thing you can say about getting beheaded: there was no chance they were going to bury you while you were still alive. Come to think of it, in a Frankenstein movie, I guess that’s not much of a fear anyways, because he digs up bodies. But I digress.
Flashing forward, the executed man’s son is all grown up and passes by the guillotine every day on his way to his job as — did you guess? I didn’t — Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant. Dr. F is also assisted by a bumbling old fool of a doctor, who is actually pretty endearing. I was reminded of Holmes and Watson (which is a little blog foreshadowing, by the way, because I also DVR’d The Hound of Baskervilles, starring none other than Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes).
Things get a little weird for a Frankenstein movie. He doesn’t sew any dead body parts together. So once again, the possibilities of the guillotine are wasted. Well, I guess not entirely, but that part comes later.
This time out, Dr. F is interested in the soul, which he says does not leave the body right away upon death.
“Where does it go?” asks Bumbling Old Doctor. I don’t think Dr. F has a good answer for that one.
As the movie progresses, we find out that Hans — that’s the guillotined guy’s son — is in love with the daughter of the owner of the local tavern. She is scarred and crippled. The origin of the scars is not explained, but it looks as if half her face has been burned. However, since she has a Veronica Lake thing going on with her long red hair, she is still cute. The crippled thing is harder to disguise, especially when some drunken upper-crust louts demand she wait on them, so they can make fun of her. Oh yes, the audience is wanting these guys to be cut up and used for body parts.
Ah, but this is a different Dr. Frankenstein. He wants to put somebody’s soul into a different body, and he gets his chance when Hans is sentenced to the guillotine.
I know what you’re thinking: “Just sew his head back on! It’s what you do!” That is what I was thinking it. But now that I think more about it, I remember that in Revenge of Frankenstein, he said he couldn’t put a dead brain into his patchwork body. But now it’s all about the soul, and the brain is not even mentioned (insert brainless joke of your choice).
You know, the more I think about it, the more I think Cushing’s character is just a regular old mad scientist, and they named him Frankenstein to buy into the franchise. Canny marketing strategy. I mean, I would have watched the movie anyways, but you can’t always go by me.
Where was I? Ah yes, Hans’ soul is put into the dead body of his girlfriend, who drowned herself in despair after he got guillotined. Yes, I’ve skipped a few plot points. You know how I am about details.
So what happens to the girl’s soul is a question nobody asks, but I think the answer is she’s still around, although she has no idea who she is or how she got there. However, she is now a beautiful, unscarred, uncrippled blond. I guess it’s a good thing she doesn’t know who she is or the first words out of her mouth may have been, “Thanks a lot, Doc! You couldn’t have done that while I was alive, I suppose?”
Just about the time I was complaining, “Isn’t there any comeuppance for those louts?” Blondie turns into a murderous vixen, commanded by, yes, Hans’ dismembered head, which she has apparently dug out of the grave (the doctors let him get buried after they got his soul).
Hey, maybe if Dr. F would have known what Blondie was up to, he could have put the louts’ souls into other people’s bodies, too. That would have made for a much longer movie, though, so I guess it’s just as well.
The movie ends pretty abruptly, with almost everybody dead, except Dr. Frankenstein. So he is all set for another sequel. I hope TCM shows it next Saturday.