Terence Fisher’s 1967 Hammer Horror film Frankenstein Created Woman was screened as the opening film of the Mayhem Presents The Created Woman weekender at Broadway in Nottingham. It was a perfect way to kick off the festival.
Fisher had spent his career making a name for himself as a director of great Hammer Horror titles, including The Mummy, Dracula and The Hound of the Baskervilles. This film came towards the end of his career (he was 63 at the time), by which point he was clearly a very accomplished and well-established director. Despite this, there is nothing stale about this picture.
He relied again on Peter Cushing to take the role of Baron Frankenstein, a tried and tested appointment. Yet it isn’t Cushing that takes centre-stage. Playboy centrefold Susan Denberg is absolutely brilliant as the shy and physically scarred Christina, whose body is the subject of Frankenstein’s latest experiment. Fusing her body with the soul of her deceased lover Hans (Robert Morris), she becomes a schizophrenic femme fatale, with a personal vendetta to murder those responsible for his death. Her role has two sides and both are played perfectly, though she is obviously more at ease with the second more sexually-confident character.
The film has a few loose points. It is responsible for one of the worst court scenes in cinematic history, in which Hans is sentenced to death for a crime with no evidence and no witnesses, even though the judge knows he is innocent, essentially because his father was a murderer. It’s in there for necessity and Fisher tries to see it through as quickly as possible. Elsewhere, three men essentially allow themselves to be killed, in reality because if they’d tried to struggle they would have easily overcome their attacker. Apparently it’s much easier to just lie still in shock and take the inevitable.
It’s probably not the best Frankenstein-based story ever told, but with a great performance from Denberg it is one that is worthy of the franchise and I recommend checking it out if you’re a big fan of the series, or indeed of Hammer Horror in general.
Frankenstein Created Woman is available on Blu-ray now.