director Terence Fisher
I always liked declarative titles like Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed or Destroy All Monsters. Maybe it’s that verb: destroy. I dunno. I gets me. Here.
It’s kind of sad but it’s been almost a decade ago that I set myself the plan to watch the Hammer horror cycles of Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Mummy. Starting with The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), there are only 7 movies in that cycle. But in the interceding years, for the hundreds of movies I’ve watched, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed is only the second of the films (5th in the series) that I’ve watched.
As a kid, I’m pretty sure I’d seen them all at one point or another.
My intent had been to watch them in order, but that didn’t happen. So I can’t contextualize this one in comparison to the others. What is interesting about it, though, is that it seems to carry forward on a through storyline from the prior films, all of which starred the inimitable Peter Cushing as the villain Dr. Frankenstein.
Here, in London, he doesn’t even have a monster. He’s hiding in plain sight, trying to recover the mind of a fellow mad scientist who has actually gone mad. He’s trying to recover the means to freeze a brain so that it can be transplanted into a new head. In his pursuit, he forces young man and his fiancee into aiding and abetting his misdeeds.
Like a number of these films, Terence Fisher steers the ship, and the film carries along at a decent clip, never stalling out, keeping things moving. It’s not overly stylized but largely entertaining. Many have noted a very untoward rape scene that feels entirely out of place and unnecessary, apparently added at the producers behest and against cast and crew’s desires. It does indeed make Dr. Frankenstein more deplorable, but it’s just…yeah.
Not sure where Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed falls in quality ranking of the Hammer Frankensteins. I thought it was pretty good.