“Good evening”, and welcome to my very first segment of a series based on a few of my favorite Films from that infamous British film production company known to most horror enthusiasts as Hammer Films.
October is frequently known as the month of Halloween however, it’s also “Anti-Bullying-Month” as well. So, I took it upon my righteous self to feature Frankenstein created Woman as my first subject. Note: Rock out to my awesome music video; FCW courtesy of Balzac!
When it comes to certain Horror films, I find myself at times, rooting for the “Monster” protagonist who through mistreatment from society in turn enacts vengeance against his/her oppressors.
Take Carrie for instance, in which the titular character gets pushed around in high school until she started pushing back, literally via the powers of telekinesis!! To me, it was one of the best revenge films of cinema despite its roots in horror. However, before Brian DePalma’s classic tale, there was another revenge film that preceded Carrie. I’m a bit of a sucker for films about jerkoffs getting their comeuppance.
Synopsis: Baron Frankenstein has acquired the dead body of a young maiden, Christina, and all it lacks is the spark of life. He captures the soul of a recently executed young man and installs it in the young woman. With the memories from the young man still intact, she starts to kill the people whose false accusations led to the young man’s execution.
In Hammer Film’s Frankenstein created Woman, Hans is in love with Christina (Susan Denberg), the disfigured daughter of a local innkeeper of “Wines and Spirits”. Christina’s father disapproves of their relationship simply due to the fact that Hans’s father was executed for murder and executed as seen in the movie’s prologue. (In which Hans witnessed as a young boy.)
Susan Denberg delivers a heartfelt performance as the facially disfigured Christine and then there’s her scenes in which she delivers wrath against those she hold responsible for her lover’s death. It’s a stark contrast between this innocent young woman, to an angel of vengeance. Her self-esteem is so low that she uses part of her hair to cover the left side of her face and prefers to make love in the dark.
“He never took me anywhere. He didn’t like to be seen with me..”
“You don’t have to hide from me Christina..”
What I really enjoyed about FCW, was the Romance between Hans and Christine, even though the “Beauty is only Skin deep” metaphor has been commonly used, it works flawless in this tale of ill-fated lovers.
“Sweet Christina fate of face
Blessed with beauty in your face
Lonely on your virgin bed
You’ll stay a virgin till you’re dead.
In your dreams, a handsome lad,
Comes creeping to your virgin bed,
Behind your hair one look and see,
And he will flee”!
“Sweet Christina don’t you cry,
It won’t be long before you die,
Then one day, a star will fall,
For the ugliest Angel of them all”
One night, while visiting Christina at the inn, Hans feel provoked into fighting three elitist snobby pricks — Anton, Johann and Karl after insulting her based on Christina’s disfigurement. Later that night, the three douchebags sneak back into the inn to steal more wine but when caught by Christina’s father they involuntary murder him.
Unfortunately for Hans, he is arrested for the murder. Despite the sterling character references of Dr Hertz and Frankenstein, the testimony of Anton, Johann and Karl persuade the jury. Because Hans will not reveal his whereabouts during the time of the murder — he was making love with Christina — he is sentenced to die at the same guillotine that killed his father some twenty years earlier.
“Everything that we don’t understand is Magic, Until we understand it”.
I must say that Hammer legend Cushing is, once again, magnificent as ever in his portrayal of Baron Frankenstein and it shows via his mad obsession while working diligently in his scientific quest to preserve the soul once a body dies.
One of my favorite scenes is where the Baron’s aide, Dr. Hertz (Thorley Waters) blackmails a peasant by threatening to tell his wife about his past discretion including but not limited to having hertz perform an abortion on a young girl (presumably a teen) that the peasant had impregnated as well as a murder. (Who the Doc was paid to cover it up as a means of “Food Poisoning”.)
While Cushing is stoic, aloof and uncaring thanks in part to his research, Walters is more compassionate to her feelings and although confined to secrecy, he reveals who Christina was prior to her being “resurrected”. It’s almost as if he was some sort of father figure which she so desperately needed since bother her own Father and Lover are now deceased.
Throughout the film, the resurrected Christina uses the oldest weapon known to man to snare and murder the Triumvirate-seduction! What’s even more batshit, is since Hans’ soul is infused with Christina’s Mind and Body, he uses his voice to taunt and draw out the three Pricks one-by-one. It is in fact, Hans’s desire for revenge that overtakes the innocent dainty Christina.
It’s a bit weird in a Schizophrenic vibe, that towards the end of the movie how Hans’s severed head “informs” Christina that her work is done. It was Hans’ desire for revenge that was more important than Christina’s well-being. Feeling the shock and revelations at what she has done, Christina’s soul recommences control and runs toward the river bank. Baron Frankenstein tries to assure that he can help her, however she cannot endure her guilt for the murders she had committed and feeling that she has no one left to live for drowns herself again.
Saddened by her loss and the guilt for not telling Christina who she really was, Frankenstein walks silently away within the woods. This was the Baron’s most humanistic portrayal throughout the movie if not a reveal that deep down his somewhat cold exterior was a compassionate man.
FCW is less of sensationalist/exploitative horror (meaning: No gore or shock value scenes.) as it is more of a tragic love story albeit a good effort not totally wasted. Here’s hoping that in the Wicked World of Hammer, that both Hans and Christina is reunited together in the afterlife. (Hopefully, not sharing the same Body this time.)
Some elements of this film echoes real life situations that occur today such as Cyberbullying one because of how they look, fat shaming, not pretty enough and of course, the caste system.
Now, this is not me going on some Soapbox rant, however I can’t help but point out these examples which define what is fucked up about society in general.
Thanks for reading. Stalks out!