After seeing his father beheaded for murder as a young boy, Hans grows up in the shadow of his father’s reputation and finds work as an assistant to Dr. Hertz and Baron von Frankenstein. The Baron is researching how long a soul stays in a body after it is dead. He makes some surprising discoveries and believes he can capture the soul of a newly dead person. Meanwhile, Hans has been sharing his affections with Christina, the daughter of a local pub owner with half her face full of scars. After a violent run in with a small group of pompously rude pub customers trying to shame Christina for her disfigurement, Hans finds himself in a situation he’s been afraid he was destined for, he is accused of murder. Like father, like son, Hans is brought to the guillotine and beheaded but not before Christina arrives to witness the horrifying punishment of the man she loves for a crime he did not commit. Distraught with grief, Christina flees the scene, ending up at a bridge where she decides to commit suicide and plunges to her death.
Baron von Frankenstein always knew that Hans was innocent despite being convicted guilty and he sees an opportunity to save Hans’ soul and advance his experiments. He recovers the decapitated body, sets up his equipment and begins the process of capturing Hans’ soul. With the freshly dead Christina, he transfers Hans’ soul into her body and brings her back from the dead. With his experiment a success, the Baron and Dr. Hertz take care of Christina as she struggles to remember who she is. As memories slowly return, Christina finds herself guided by Hans’ soul to seek revenge against the men who wrongfully accused him of murder.
I’d never seen Frankenstein Created Woman before and had an idea of what I thought the movie would be. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my assumption of the movie was incorrect and the actual film is much better than I had anticipated. I really liked that the movie ended up being a pretty cool revenge film instead of being the mad-scientist-reanimates-woman-into-voluptuous-creation movie. In fact, the reanimation aspect of the film doesn’t happen for quite some time and instead we are treated to a good set up of the story which makes the payoff of the movie better. I really liked the idea of two people in love, who were spurned by people around them, dying tragically only to be resurrected in the same body and exacting their revenge on the guilty parties. Sounds like a horror-infused episode of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse. Actually, the story of this film reminded me of one of my favorite B-movie cult classics, Frankenhooker. I wonder if Frank Henenlotter saw Frankenstein Created Woman and took some inspiration from it (though if he did, his spin on it is so crazy.. and so good!).
All of the actors in the movie give good performances. I liked Peter Cushing’s calm and clever Frankenstein. His character always has control in any situation even when dealing with berating men trying to insult him. Robert Morris is likable and makes Hans a sympathetic protagonist. Susan Denberg plays tormented well and transforms into a convincing femme fatale when she becomes the killing hand of Hans’ soul.
As with Millennium Entertainment’s previous release (Dracula: Prince of Darkness), the video transfer for Frankenstein Created Woman is pretty great. I noticed a few dropped frames and a shot or two that looked a little rough, no doubt due to the age and condition of the original negative, but there is nothing here that will detract from your viewing experience. All in all, the 2.35:1 image looks really crisp and the colors vibrant. I love seeing these old Hammer films in high-definition as it breathes new life into the movies and the Frankenstein Created Woman Blu-ray disc does not disappoint in that regard. The English 2.0 Dolby Stereo audio track does justice to the dialogue and score of the film, with all levels blending nicely.
As soon as you open the Blu-ray case, you are greeted to a nice little bonus of exclusive collectible cards contained inside an envelope with the film’s title printed on the front. They are a mixture of movie still photos and promotional poster art. On the disc itself, Millennium has provided a good amount of special features. The first is an audio commentary track featuring Derek Fowlds and Robert Morris, who played Johann and Hans respectively in the movie. They are joined in the commentary by Hammer film historian Jonathan Rigby. This Collector’s Edition also features two World of Hammer episodes, one that focuses on the history of Frankenstein in the Hammer film legacy and the other focusing on the various roles that Peter Cushing played in Hammer movies, everything from Van Helsing to Sherlock Holmes. Besides a theatrical trailer for Frankenstein Created Woman, the disc rounds out its special features with a brand new documentary called Hammer Glamour. This 44-minute feature covers the women of Hammer films and features interviews with favorites like Valerie Leon, Caroline Munro, Martine Beswicke, Madeline Smith, Jenny Hanley and Vera Day. The women all talk about their experiences in making the movies over the years, from behind-the-scenes politics and how they dealt with a Hammer trademark, nudity. The documentary also makes mention of the likes of Ursula Andress and Raquel Welch, with some of the interviewed ladies discussing their experiences with them. It was actually interesting to realize that most of the Hammer actresses actually ended up also being Bond women in the James Bond franchise. Hammer Glamour is a casual but insightful look into the women of Hammer.
Frankenstein Created Woman Collector’s Edition Blu-ray is available for purchase now on Amazon and I most definitely recommend it. It’s a quality release for a very enjoyable Hammer movie. Hammer enthusiasts will definitely want to purchase this one.
by Ben McBride
Follow Ben on @monsterpopcorn