The Curse of Frankenstein ★★★★

Although it takes more than a few liberties with the source novel (no more or less than the Karloff Universal version, at least) it does land a bit better - in some respects - for turning its focus more squarely back upon Frankenstein himself, instead of allowing the creature to shanghai the narrative. In this, the film allows Peter Cushing (as the Baron) to dominate the film (and its sequels) in much the same manner as the Creature (Karloff, or at least Karloff's signature make-up, after Karloff left the role) consumed the Universal version (and its sequels).

This does not make either/or superior to the other, but it does mean that both films (franchises) have their own focus, and as such, feel as though each interpretation has carved its own territory from the structure of Shelly's novel. Obviously, as the "first" of the Hammer horror cycle, the film lays out a great deal of what will be the recurring visual lingo of the other films - the gothic settings, lush costuming, and of course, Cushing & Lee. The film does an excellent job of crafting this distinctly Hammer feel, and while it is not wholly "scary" at this point in time, it is effectively atmospheric and does manage to land a few genuinely disturbing sequences.