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Friday, January 24, 2014

FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN (Millennium Blu-ray) - Hammer Created a Monster Lady

We’ve had several distributors over the last couple of year’s begin to tackle the Hammer catalog in an attempt to digitize in a higher definition a great era in horror history perhaps what can only be described as they Silver Age only second to the Golden Age ushered in my Universal in the 30’s and 40’s. There are several ways to get these things into your hands, but few do it as well as Millennium who has upped the bar by providing a wonderful token of appreciation with each release it puts out. In the case of the movie at hand for discussion, the debonair Terence Fisher’s Frankenstein Created Woman, we have not only a strange midway addition to the Hammer Frankenstein cycle, but a sort of changing of the guard when it comes to storytelling and focus.

Synopsis from Millennium:

In Frankenstein Created Woman, a tormented girl (Susan Denberg) drowns herself after her lover is framed for her father’s murder and guillotined. Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing), experimenting with the transfer of souls, places her lover’s soul into her body, bringing Christina back to life. With no memories of her past life, she becomes driven by a ghostly revenge and carries out a violent retribution on those responsible for both deaths.

Trailer:


Hammer’s focus would start to take a turn toward more sensual movie content in the mid  1960’s while it isn’t entirely clear where the jump went (Hammer has always had a flare for gratuity in addition to content) it is never more evident than in Frankenstein Created Woman. The movie follows the exploits of one Doc Frankenstein running around graveyards trying to find the freshest specimens possible. Man OR Woman. It’s obvious that while Dr. F still means well, his moral compass has gone full tilt south. His actions can only be described as reprehensible and a once respectful doctor and scientist played by the gentleman Peter Cushing, is now nothing more than a desperate saw bones grave robber with a penchant for playing God.

Frankenstein Created Woman is not the finest hour for Hammer or for the series, but never the less is an important installment in the franchise showing the evolution of the Hammer product and still skillfully directed by one of the Hammer greats, Terence Fischer. While this is only the fourth installment in the seven part Frankenstein franchise as created by Hammer it’s obvious that the quality and narrative became somewhat secondary to providing novelty and simply having a clever, challenging title. We’re not quite at exploitation here, but Susan Denberg in the lead has all the hallmarks of a young Raquel Welch circa One Million Years BC which was released in 1966 by Hammer. The two movies nearly coincide in scheduled release date. Clearly, something was guiding the aesthetic of all Hammer productions other than the Gothic horror tropes of their early work.

For reference the Frankenstein movies in the series are as follows:

Curse of Frankenstein
The Revenge of Frankenstein
The Evil of Frankenstein
Frankenstein Created Woman
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (a true return to form and genuinely awesome monster tale!)
The Horror of Frankenstein
Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell.

It took Frankenstein Created Woman as well as some of the other mid-60’s monster skin flicks for the studio to realize that audiences still wanted a bit o’ scare with the flesh and apparently a significant increase in gore. That’s not to say the studio completely diverged from more sensual offerings feature female cast members. This would only be the beginning of a tradition of movies that would become more risqué with each installment. These would be more or less reserved for the vampire titles for the most part.

This special collector’s edition from Millennium whose previous release of Dracula: Prince of Darkness earned a spot on my favorite Blu-ray/DVD releases of the year (go HERE to read the complete list) includes some semi-traditional packaging featuring a still and logo from the original production. This release comes with a set of postcard, lobby cards that are very handsome and perfect for the Hammer fan boy or girl. The extras on this particular disc include a commentary track from Derek Fowlds, Robert Morris and Jonathan Rigby as well as the trailer and stills. True fans of the genre (though somewhat unrelated to this release proper) will appreciate the World of hammer: Peter Cushing documentary, World of Hammer “Curse of Frankenstein” episode narrative by Oliver Reed and the brand new documentary Hammer Glamour.

Note: 2.35:1, Region A, 2.0 Dolby Stereo.

Special Features:
  • Commentary Featuring Derek Fowlds ("Johann"), Robert Morris ("Hans") and Jonathan Rigby (Hammer Historian)
  • Frankenstein Created Woman Trailer
  • World of Hammer Episode "The Curse of Frankenstein"
  • World of Hammer Episode "Hammer Stars: Peter Cushing"
  • Brand New Documentary: "Hammer Glamour"
  • Animated Stills Gallery
  • Includes Exclusive Collectable Cards! 

I strongly urge fans of this series, of Hammer and of classic horror to take note of this series from Millennium. The extras are solid, the print is dazzling and the postcards are just what the doctor had in mind to resurrect your sense of collectability.


-Doc Terror

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