The Film (4/5)
The cover art features what is supposed to the corpse of a scantily clad women with Peter Cushing's iconic Baron Frankenstein residing over her prepared to bring her back to the land of the living. The font for the title is in giant pink letters, and even the title itself Frankenstein Created Woman, which itself is a play on Roger Vadim's And God Created Woman, the Brigitte Bardot starring film that titillated audience's back in the 60's promises that this sequel in Hammer's Frankenstein series will bring certain lurid thrills to it's expectant audience. It did not deliver on the promise of those titillating thrills, but Frankenstein did indeed create a woman in this film that was no lie, regardless the film is an excellent entry in Hammer's Frankenstein series, and one of the better late entries in that series.
The film takes a small scale story with a handful of characters, director Terrence Fisher in conjunction with screenwriter John Elder (aka Anthony Hinds) bring a small town story of revenge in living death to life with a handful of well drawn characters and excellent performances.
The film opens roughly 25 years before it's main story with the execution of a man for murder. As the guillotine is about to drop upon the man's head and take his life his son Hans appears on the scene, and the last thing the man sees is his son's face looking on at his own death. The film then skips ahead 25 or so years, and Hans is the assistant of Baron Frankenstein who is continuing his various otherworldly experiments in the small town where Hans resides. Frankenstein has just made a discovery that life can be preserved if the soul can be captured close to death, and the body repaired, before the soul is put back into the body. He is given the opportunity to test this experiment as Han's life takes a tragic turn.
Han's in recent times has fallen in love with the local innkeepers daughter Christina. Christina was born disfigured and with a handicap, and her Father has worked for years to try and cure her various issues to no avail. One night a trio of wealthy young men spend the night drinking at the inn, and make fun of Christina's disfigurement, this causes Hans to retaliate against them. He gets taken away by the police, but sneaks back later in the night to comfort Christina. Tragically, the trio also come back, and murder the innkeeper. Hans, unwilling to admit that he was with Christina at the time of the innkeepers death is charged with murder and executed. When Christina finds out, she throws herself into a nearby river and drowns.
Baron Frankenstein, takes advantage of both situations, by preserving Hans soul, and placing it into the body of Christina. The process takes 6 months to repair the damage the drowning did to Christina's body, and when she awakens she appears to look not like the disfigured Christina of old, but more like a Playboy model (Christina is played by Susan Denberg, a former Playboy Model). As her body is now the repository of Hans soul, and Hans died knowing the true murderers, he sets out on getting his revenge on the trio for destroying his life, and the life of the woman he loved, and now inhabits.
Frankenstein Created Woman feels less like a typical horror movie for much of it's running time, and more of a small town drama that has added horror elements. The first half of the film aside from the execution sequence doesn't feel like a horror film at all, and gives the film time to setup it's characters and their respective situations which makes the second half of the film much more impactful. Obviously, this mean the film has a much more leisurely pace than the typical genre entry, but that is to this stories advantage. The performances across the board are excellent, and the actors here truly inhabit there rules. Cushing, of course, by this time must have had Baron Frankenstein down to a science.
Hammer in the late 60's sort of became a machine for Dracula and Frankenstein films, both series were largely uneven when viewed as a whole, but the studio did always try to do certain new things with both. That innovation certainly paid off with Frankenstein Created Woman, whose only real problem is a title which could be viewed as exploitive and silly, and is doing no favors to interesting story contained therein.
Millennium Entertainment has presented Frankenstein Created Woman in a very solid 1:85:1 1080p transfer that honestly looks fairly excellent. The colors here are both natural where they need to, and also are bright and pop. The detail is excellent throughout, blacks are solid, and flesh tones appear to be mostly accurate. There are some soft spots here and again, but overall I was quite pleased by what was on display here.
The audio is presented in a solid DTS-HD 2.0 mix that sounds quite nice as well. The dialogue comes through nice and clearly, as does the music and effects. I did not detect any instances of pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
Millennium Entertainment in conjunction with Hammer have put together a nice slate of extras for their release of Frankenstein Created Woman. The disc kicks off with a commentary track featuring actors Robert Morris and Derek Fowlds with film critic Jonathan Rigby. We also get 2 episodes of the World of Hammer one on Peter Cushing, and another on the film the Curse of Frankenstein. We also get a documentary featurette on Hammer Glamour. The disc is rounded off by trailers, photo galleries, and a physical set of lobby cards.
Frankenstein Created Woman is one of the hidden high points of Hammer's Frankenstein series. The Blu-ray from Millennium Entertainment is a thing of beauty, and the extras truly sweeten the package. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.