Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell
Patrick Troughton is busy robbing a grave. Spotted by a policeman, he
makes his escape, aided by the unfortunate fuzz falling into the open
hole. "Oh my god," you're thinking - "it's yet another
Hammer 'comedy' 'spectacular' along the lines of the opening scenes of
Scars Of Dracula or the whole of the
risible Horror Of Frankenstein" (the
company's previous outing for the Baron).
Luckily, it isn't. It's the beginning of Frankenstein And The Monster
From Hell, and the end for Hammer's Baron, being their last Frankenstein
film ever. It's also possibly their greatest Frankenstein film ever, too
- once again (how many times do I have to tell you?) showing that in their
last few years, Hammer produced their greatest works.
After delivering his booty to a bored-looking Simon Helder (Shane Bryant,
at his most louche and disinterested), Troughton goes to spend his hard-earned
at the local, running into the policeman again and bargaining for his
freedom by dobbing in his employer.
After a brief scuffle, in which a jar of eyeballs are destroyed, Helder
is arrested for sorcery and sent to an asylum for five years. After enjoying
a brief period where they think he's the new asylum doctor ("You're
them!" gasps the creepy director as the penny drops),
Helder gets the old asylum initiation, which involves a very public high-pressure
hosing-down which looks like it really hurts. "Enjoying that are
you, my lovely?" shouts the camper of the two guards, as the babble
coming from the inmates looking on grows louder.
It's at this point that Cushing enters, the camera crash-zooming in on
his alarmingly gaunt features. He soon puts paid to these hazing activities
("There's nothing to see - it's over!"), and then goes to berate
the governor over the treatment of the new intern. It becomes obvious
at this point that the two of them are in cahoots - "The Baron is
dead, remember?" says Cushing, "We killed him!"
Of course, despite such subterfuge, Helder sees Frankenstein for exactly
who he is - it helps that the books he was studying at the beginning of
the film had a lovely lithograph featuring Cushing's chiselled cheekbones
on the front of them.
Helder demands to help the Baron in the experiments he's conducting in
the asylum, and gets a quick tour of the place, with introductions to
the patients which interest Frankenstein the most.
Herr Muller thinks himself to be God, the Baron noting "he's not
the first man to hold that opinion". Then there's an empty cell with
bent bars which used to house an inmate who tried to escape, but landed
on his head. "He was more animal than human," says Frankenstein.
"Fascinated by broken glass. Liked stabbing people in the face with
Next is The Professor, who is playing the violi and studying advanced
mathematics. Helder thinks he looks harmless, but the Baron explains:
"When roused, that harmless little man is as savage as a wild cat."
And finally there's a sculptor, who offers the Baron's mute servant, Sarah
(the jaw-droppingly beautiful Maddie Smith) his latest creation, and whose
face cracks into heartbreaking despair when his visitors leave.
The next day, the sculptor is found dead in his cell, and as Helder watches
the funeral procession, the coffin is dropped to the ground, falling open
to reveal that the man's hands have been removed. As he investigates a
monstrous wailing that night, Helder comes across the Baron's secret laboratory,
and the monster he is creating is revealed.
"I knew you couldn't give up your work completely, and you haven't
have you?" the younger doctor enquires. "No, I haven't given
up - and I never shall!" his mentor replies.
With the half-finished monster revealed, we're treated to some truly revolting
surgery, with hands being sewn on, arteries being grabbed between teeth,
and eyeballs hanging out of sockets. Frankenstein reveals that he can
no longer perform intricate surgery, as, in a nod to the explosive ending
of Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, he holds
up his hands and says: "These
these are useless for intricate
surgery. Lost all sensitivity
they were burned
in the interest
Always the reasonably level-headed chap in the past, it becomes apparent
that not all the Baron's marbles are still rattling around in his bewigged
head. As the monster's replacement eyeballs are "popped in",
Helder cracks a "joke":
"We shall see," says the Baron.
"Let us hope that it is him who sees," replies Helder.
"A-hahahahaha-haaaaa!!!" laughs the Baron, slightly hysterically
and definitely for too long.
"I didn't think it was that funny
" says Helder drily,
under his breath.
Now all the gruesome twosome require is a brain for their creation - the
brain of a genius. It looks bad for the Professor, and it's not long before
the poor bloke is found hung by his own violin strings. Just when you
think you're not going to see this horrible scene in its entirety, you're
treated to it in loving close-up, followed by an extremely gruelling brain
Unfortunately (as usual), the brain transplant fails to take properly,
and things head towards their tragic (and ridiculously violent) conclusion,
with much death and the shocking reason for Sarah's disability being made
The film ends with the Baron, now quite, quite mad, pottering around and
still hoping to pursue his useless experiments, his final words being:
"Now you can use your hose. Make this place clean
Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell is the perfect end to Hammer's
run of tales of the mad Baron. It follows on from the end of
(let's just ignore Horror Of), with Frankenstein burned and insane
(although hiding it well for much of the picture), has subtle links to
the original film ("Let us eat, and then we'll transplant the brain.
Ah, kidneys!" says Cushing after engineering the death of the Professor,
in a nod to his "Pass the marmalade" line from Curse
Of Frankenstein), and shows his work for the waste of time it always
Shane Bryant's acting "ability", for the first and probably
only time in his career, actually works in his favour as Helder. Throughout
the entire proceedings he never so much as raises an eyebrow, whether
being approached by the police ("Oh my God"), scooping up spilled
eyeballs ("Ruined, quite ruined"), or putting in a spirited
defence for his activities ("If you must know, I'm going to stitch
them together, to create a new man."). This gives the character such
an air of other-wordliness that his attitude and reasoning seems perfectly
But the film belongs to Cushing, and as such is a perfect swansong for
his greatest creation.