director Freddie Francis
In retrospect, I should have carried on with my exploration of Hammer horror films back when I first watched The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). Nine years ago, Netflix still had an extensive DVD offering. They had started culling perhaps, but I probably could have gotten all the films and watched them in order.
Instead, nearly a decade later, I find myself catching as catch can with the Hammer Frankenstein series. Just last week, I watched Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), the fifth of seven films. And now? Hammer Frankenstein #3, The Evil of Frankenstein.
It seems that this is a less popular installment. It’s the only one featuring director Freddie Francis, cinematographer turned director, who did a sizable amount of work for both Hammer and Amicus in the horror arena. Mostly, people seem annoyed at the break in narrative between Evil and its predecessor 1958’s The Revenge of Frankenstein. I don’t have that one available, so I can’t speak to that issue.
Frankly (har har), I liked this one quite a bit. I’ve seen a bunch of these as a kid and they’re totally jumbled in my brain. It’s only after re-watching that various elements and images spring to mind. In this case, Rena the beggar girl (Katy Wild) joggled my memory among other things. But also, maybe it’s Francis’s visual aesthetic, I thought the film looked really nice as well.
I’ve invented for myself a bit of a “summer of Hammer” here, kind of by accident, but I do plan to follow it on out. Randomizing order makes things maybe further jumbled, but with six intervening years between Revenge and Evil, it doesn’t seem that odd to have restarted a bit. These days they probably would have replaced Peter Cushing with the latest young Brit and re-booted the whole damn thing in total.