The Curse of Frankenstein

The Curse of Frankenstein ★★★

There is much to like here. I enjoy how deliciously sinister Peter Cushing's Victor is. I'm always a fan of cool and intricate set pieces. Lee is great as the creature, though he is no Karloff (sorry Christopher, still love you), and of course it is a delight to see the genre of horror move into technicolor.
Yet there is much off about it too. The score is overdone, and some times odd. There is an early body retrieval scene that features a playful oboe in the music that would sound more natural in one of those early Disney movies about settling the American frontier. As cool as the laboratory set is, we see it too often and too early. I get that part of the idea behind this production was to show us the stuff the censors wouldn't allow in the previous decades, and in that regard it shows admirable restraint in never showing the surgical moments directly. However, some build up to these shocking body parts may have made them more effective as shocking imagery. This film is just a bit too eager to jump into the meat (pardon the pun) of the story.
I think an excellent way to script doctor this story would be to tell it from the perspective of Elizabeth, our lead heroine. She arrives in Frankenstein's castle with no clue what sort of experiments he is up too. Throughout the screenplay she would notice suspicious behavior in the doctor as he disappears into his lab with mysterious wrapped items. Paul would occasionally come to her room in secret and warn her to leave in earnest hushed tones. Slowly she would start to notice evidence of Victor's grave robbing. A trace of blood on his clothes, a remark from the maid. Eventually she would hear the loud shuffling of lumbering feet from the laboratory she is forbidden to enter. Soon there is a death in the village that causes a riff between Paul and Victor. In the third act we can reveal the cool laboratory set and of course, the creature.
The downside of this plan is that it would give us considerably less of Lee's performance, but the trade of would be, I think, a much more suspenseful version of the same story.
Regardless, it's a good looking movie, and it deserves some credit for discovering the chemistry within the soon to be iconic duo of Kushing and Lee.

EDIT: I forgot to ask, where the hell did the creature get that nice coat?

Neill liked these reviews