Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell
Length: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, Anamorphic
Audio: DD Mono
SRP: Under $20 USD
Hammer’s final Frankenstein story is delivered with a weak script, but with a great performance by Peter Cushing.
Baron Frankenstein (Cushing) wants the world to think that he is dead, so that he can carry on his work in solitude. What better place to do this than in a home for the criminally insane. Having some dirt on the warden, he’s able to pretty much run the place.
Having sustained injuries to his hands, he finds help in the guise of a new inmate - a surgeon who has studied Frankenstein’s work, and who has figured out the madman’s true identity. They work together to create a new creature, from the body parts of the criminally insane inmates at the asylum. The monster is none other than David Prowse (Darth Vader in later years), who is unrecognizeable in a full-body suit.
Of course, things don’t go as planned. The brain of the monster deteriorates, and the monster gets loose in the asylum.
This final Frankenstein from Hammer is a weak entry in Frankenstein lore, but it is interesting for Cushing’s performance, and for the set design - if nothing else.
This is an anamorphic, 1.85:1 transfer. The picture is sharp, with little in the way of dust or scratches. Colors are adequately saturated, and a bit warm. There are deep blacks with acceptable shadow detail. Fine grain is occasionally present throughout, as expected given the age and budget of this film. This is as good a transfer of the source elements as you could expect.
Audio is Dolby Digital, Mono. Dialog is consistently clear above sound effects and music. Frequency response is accurately rendered from the source, as far as I can tell. Don’t expect booming lows or soaring highs, but this is a good rendering of the original elements.
Commentary by Madeline Smith, David Prowse and genre historian Jonathan Sothcott. Prowse and Smith speak freely about the making of the film, and about the personalities involved. They go on at length about Peter Cushing, and explain how Cushing’s wife died not long before shooting the film, and how that had a lot to do with how he appeared in the film. They talk about the frequent “day-for-night” photography, and explain that it is common in Hammer films because the company refused to pay overtime for night shooting. It is also divulged that this, the American version of the film has 9 cuts from the original version. The British version had brief censoring as well. It is not divulged whether or not the complete, uncut version of the film exists.
I’m not a big fan of this take on Frankenstein, but I’m sure Hammer fans will be glad to get this final outing on DVD. Paramount has provided an excellent transfer of this cult favorite.