Frankenstein 1970 (1958)

It came as a bit of surprise to me, after reading about this one in books about Science Fiction Cinema for years, to learn that it wasn’t actually made in 1970.

I suppose I didn’t pay much attention to it, to be honest.

In fact, as far as I can see, there really wasn’t any claim in the film that its events are taking place in 1970.

Let’s face it, I’d be hard pressed to identify anything particularly futuristic about the setting or circumstances of this film.

Well…perhaps that Frankenstein  could just go out and buy some sort of small nuclear reactor for his secret laboratory.  But then, mad scientists had been putting those in their labs for years.

I suppose they all used the same supplier.  Perhaps a mail order catalog.  You never know.

At any rate, after a scary monster chase (which proves to be part of the movie within the movie) we find ourselves among a group of filmmakers who are making a movie about Frankenstein and his monster at the very castle owned by the original Baron von Frankenstein.

His last surviving relative (and last of his line) is the current Baron (played, of course by Boris Karloff) who rented the castle to them because he needed the money (after all, nuclear reactors don’t come cheap).  Unfortunately he loathes their very presence and everything remotely connected with them.

Fortunately, though, they also provide a good source of spare parts for his attempts to revive the original monster…

Basically, this is a Fifties monster movie, even if we might expect something closer to the Universal model.

Karloff’s great-grandson of Frankenstein is badly scarred and extremely harsh and unpleasant, a survivor of Nazi torture with a few nasty secrets.

Strangely, though, he gets a “Kindly Dr. Carruthers” moment when his best friend completely fails to notice just how sinister everything the good Doctor is saying actually sounds.

But then, characters in horror films do frequently seem to have that particular problem.

Once the killings start, there are quite a few of them, although the monster is one of the least cinematic I’ve seen.  It spends most of the film wrapped in bandages (with what looks like a wastepaper basket on his head under them). and we only get to see its face at the final reveal;.

Which is hardly unusual in this sort of film, even if this time the final surprise is mild and rather obvious (and heavily telegraphed, for that matter).

Still there is an amiable B-Movieness about the whole affair: the setting are moderately impressive in a limited stage-bound sort of way (even if definitely not up to the Hammer standard that was just coming in), the cast is competent, and the story has the advantage of being a new twist on a very old story.

We even get a few touches of rather casual gore, like the Baron spilling his jar of human eyes, which were inspired by Hammer’s first Frankenstein effort which came out just the year before.

I’ll admit that I quite like the film’s rather meta-fictional look behind the movie-making scenes.

Not that I’m saying that’s the way they really make movies.

Nor does it offer any insights into the Frankenstein mythos and movies, or their place within the real world.

Mind you, that’s really not something the expect to learn from a B-Movie.

No matter how Meta…

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