Paramount // 1974 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 21st, 2003
Your blood will run cold when the monster rises!
Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell revisits Baron Frankenstein and his continual dabbling in bipedal recycling. Like his creation, Dr. Frankenstein just keeps coming back from the dead. But the real question remains: will he learn anything from his past exploits, or press on toward his goal, becoming the cover-boy for Reanimation Nation?
Right off the bat, it should be noted that this film boasts the pairing of two of the most iconic and legendary screen villains of all time -- well, that's not entirely accurate. It features the two actors that played two of the most iconic and legendary screen villains of all time. Peter Cushing and David Prowse (Star Wars' Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader, respectively) unite in this final Hammer Studios Frankenstein film that sees the mad doctor piecing together an abominable freak once again -- with zany results!
Baron Frankenstein is long dead, but his legacy lives on, particularly in the life of a young surgeon, Simon Helder (Shane Briant), who contracts out from the hunchbacked, grave-robbing savant workers' union, with the hopes of building his very own bumbling freak of nature made with salvaged limbs and organs.
Helder and his nefarious science project, however, are quickly condemned by the local authorities and sentenced to the insane asylum. There he meets the prison's physician, Doctor Victor, who turns out to be none other than the "deceased" Baron Frankenstein. With the asylum and its manic-depressive, suicide-prone inmates at his disposal, Frankenstein is in an environment akin to a super-buffet of spare body parts.
Enamored with the opportunity to work alongside his mad scientist idol, Helder embarks with Dr. F on another madcap biology endeavor when the two bring into the world...(cue throbbing crescendo) The Monster From Hell!!!
Okay, this movie is not as nearly as scary as the title, and, for that matter the font that the title is written in, would suggest. We're talking about a real snoozer here, folks. Most of the movie is taken up by Helder jawing with Frankenstein, standing around in Frankenstein's secret dungeon-like lab. The vaunted "monster from hell" isn't revealed until after a considerable amount of back-and-forth by the good doctors, a sequence where the smarmy Helder is blasted with a firehose by the asylum's warden, and the introduction of the attractive, mute, innocent female lab assistant (a considerable upgrade from the usual twin-toothed, drooling "Igor"-like helpers).
When the monster finally makes his debut, we see a big, furry, Piltdown man, with huge eyes, a barrel chest, and a sloping brow that you could snowboard down. Hell-spawned? Not likely, unless Hell is, in actuality, the Wookiee home-world.
Frankenstein and Helder wrestle with the moral ambiguities of their pet project (well, Helder, more than Baron), and the creature runs the intellect gamut: it starts as the typical brainless moron with the strength to bench-press Northern Ireland and the I.Q. of creamed spinach to a quasi-genius, thanks to some handy skull-swapping with a deceased thinker.
But, needless to say, life in this Shangri-la is soon disrupted by the monster's sensitivity toward the gentler sex and his penchant for smashing stuff. Both of these attributes do not sit well with the rowdy villager-types and...well, you'll have to see for yourself, providing you're still awake.
Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell gets a half-decent treatment from Paramount, with a widescreen presentation and relatively clean transfer. Sound is Dolby Digital mono, but, trust me, you're not missing much -- this movie is mostly dialogue anyway, so your center would've shouldered most of the workload regardless of the mix. Special features are non-existent, save for a "stroll-down-memory-lane" commentary by actors Madeline Smith, David Prowse and genre historian Jonathan Sothcott.
A well-made movie with a few compelling parts that would put to sleep a four-year-old hyperactive child after four bowls of Fruity Pebbles.
All parties involved in the production of Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell are hereby ordered to cover the costs of the No-Doz pills viewers will need to take prior to watching the film.
Review content copyright © 2003 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1974
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Commentary by Madeline Smith, David Prowse, and Jonathan Sothcott