Welcome to the Hammer Factory . This month we dissect The Evil of Frankenstein (1964).
While Hammer Studios has been in business since 1934, it was between 1955 and 1979 that it towered as one of the premier sources of edgy, gothic horror. On top of ushering the famous monsters of Universal’s horror heyday back into the public eye, resurrecting the likes of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Mummy in vivid color, the studio invited performers like Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt and so many more to step into the genre limelight. Spanning a library housing over 300 films, Hammer Studios is a key part of horror history that until recently has been far too difficult to track down.
In late 2018, Shout Factory’s Scream Factory line began to focus on bringing Hammer’s titles to disc in the US, finally making many of the studio’s underseen gems available in packages that offered great visuals as well as insightful accompanying features. Over the course of this column, I will focus on these releases, gauging the films in context of the Hammer Studio story as well as analyzing the merits of the release. It’s time to highlight the power, impact and influence of Hammer Studios and ignite new conversation surrounding some forgotten classics.
The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) marked a historic turning point for Hammer Studios. Despite the risk of failure in the face of corporate lawsuits and the audience’s potential unwillingness to accept an audacious new interpretation of a story so deeply embedded in the pop culture consciousness, they managed to craft a hugely successful film that not only solidified Peter Cushing as the definitive Baron Victor Frankenstein but that catapulted Hammer to the forefront of mainstream genre filmmaking.
Still, Hammer founder James Carreras was unsatisfied with how Warner Brothers had handled their side of the partnership with Curse and its release, opening the door to new studio accords. Shortly thereafter, Hammer signed a long term deal with Columbia, amongst the projects of which were a Frankenstein sequel and an anthology TV series based on the property. At the same time, Hammer began a successful relationship with Universal, despite their misgivings regarding Curse, with the release of Dracula (1958).
Months before the release of The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), the follow up to Curse, a third film was announced, at that time called Fear of Frankenstein. On top of that, James Carreras, Anthony Hinds and Jimmy Sangster had put together the pilot for Tales of Frankenstein. All of that is to say, Hammer was ready to propel their burgeoning franchise into the stratosphere of cross platform horror entertainment.
When Brides of Dracula (1960) was released, Peter Cushing had a change of heart regarding his career path and decided to step away from horror films for a time, revealing a fear of being typecast. While he made other films for Hammer, such as Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960), Cash on Demand (1961) and Captain Clegg (1962), reprising the Baron was low on his list of priorities. As it was, Fear of Frankenstein disappeared from the production schedule without acknowledgement. Couple that with the fact that the Tales of Frankenstein pilot was not picked up for a series run and it seemed that the momentum of Hammer’s Frankenstein saga had flickered out just as quickly as it had initially flared up.
Years later, following a refreshed deal with Universal Studios, Hammer was given the go ahead, and a bigger budget, to do what they were so strictly prohibited from in The Curse of Frankenstein. James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) was no longer off limits, including Jack Pierce’s iconic make-up. With an agreed upon release date well before production went underway, the whole movie existed on an incredibly tight timetable. After convincing Cushing to return, Carreras attempted to recruit Jimmy Sangster to write and produce. However, busy with the screenplay for Hysteria (1965) and seemingly uncomfortable with the expectation of a speedy turnaround, he dropped out shortly after joining the production. Without the key creative minds of Terence Fisher, who was also busy with The Gorgon (1964), and Jimmy Sangster, this left Anthony Hinds to conceive and write the picture in a matter of six weeks.
Simultaneously, John Gilling turned in what Hinds felt was a subpar script to The Gorgon which required Hinds to do a full rewrite. Given the workload and pressure for success, Hinds turned to the studio’s inventory of unused scripts and pitches- specifically those intended for the abandoned anthology series. He landed on a Peter Bryan penned story intended for Episode 5 of the show, concerning a traveling circus performer adept in hypnotics, enabling minds to meld with Frankenstein’s unholy creation. With the story as his roadmap, he quickly penned what would become The Evil of Frankenstein (1964). Soon after, renowned cinematographer Freddie Francis, who had already directed Paranoiac (1963) and Nightmare (1964) for Hammer, was brought in to helm the film in the stead of Terence Fisher, with the hope he could bring a gravitas to the picture that matched the previous two entries.
Roy Ashton was given the complicated task of crafting the look of the monster, attempting to combine the familiar trappings of Pierce’s work with the modern sensibilities Hammer was trying to tap into. After nearly two hundred attempts at a design and no consensus from producers, he crafted a scale model of what the general opinion seemed to favor. With no consideration or regard to the amount of time and effort that went into making such a cast, the various producers from Universal and Hammer alike continued to request changes and alterations with the expectation of breakneck turn around times. Finally, with only days until the shoot, a decision was made— perhaps rashly— and the make-up was created with understandably disappointing results.
The resulting film is one torn between the trappings and styles of yesteryear’s Universal classic monster movie and Hammer’s gothic sensibilities, ultimately satisfying neither camp entirely. Francis crafts a beautiful tapestry, putting his eventual Oscar winning skills with the camera to affective use, but it’s not enough to save the woe’s imposed on the picture by the script. Ignoring the relatively tight continuity established by Terence Fisher’s first two Frankenstein outings, this one rewrites history and creates a far slighter and less interesting narrative. Retreading ground with a creature that looks comical in comparison to Christopher Lee’s original version, the film infuses the affair with somewhat silly subplots that truly feel like they belong on the smaller screen from which they were pilfered.
Still, the film is not without its merits. The beautiful photography often allows easy emotional access to the film, lending weight to scenes, characters and story developments that might have otherwise been devoid of it. The performances are all strong as well, anchored by another contemplative turn as the Baron from Peter Cushing, and it’s his musings, actions and scheming that, regardless of its flaws, makes Evil an essential component of Hammer’s cinematic canon.
The film failed to connect with audiences commercially and landed as a disappointment to Hammer and Universal alike. It seemed that by attempting to recapture the essence of something long gone by, the creators lost sight of what made their initial forays into the Frankenstein mythos so successful. Luckily, the lesson did not seem to be lost on those involved. The future of the franchise would go on to hold much of the bold and creative ideology so essential to Curse and Revenge, leaving The Evil of Frankenstein as a fascinating oddity in the cycle and a cautionary tale for all great franchises that would rather look backward than into the future. After all, who knows what The Curse of Frankenstein might have been, if not for its enforced inability to be what had already come before it.
“Why can’t they leave me alone? Why can’t they ever leave me alone?”
The forest is lush and calm as a river gently flows beside an old cabin near its bank. An aged couple emerges, distraught and grieving. They fail to notice the hand rising out of the scraggly brush, or the ginning interloper it’s attached to as they walk away. Inside the cabin is the body of a young man, a cross in his hands, lying dead on a table. A young girl peers out from behind a neighboring door as a window bursts open, filling the small space with an eerily violent wind.
The body begins to move toward the window and the girl screams. The man from the trees drags the body out into the woods, grinning maliciously. The little girl bursts from the cabin and into the night. She follows the path, searching desperately for help and halts screaming once more when a hand grasps at her from the darkness. But this time the hand is not of the corpse nabber, but that of the cold, calculating visage of Baron Victor Frankenstein.
The Evil of Frankenstein is keen to remind its viewers just who it is they’re dealing with, traversing all too familiar territory and providing a reintroduction of sorts to the Baron and his dastardly deeds. Its strength, which holds true for the rest of the film, is in its visual execution. Directed by Freddie Francis, every shot is infused with shadow and depth, every angle with character and purpose, distracting from the derivative, disjointed and occasionally meandering storyline that comprises this somewhat challenging entry in Hammer’s Frankenstein sequence.
And yet, focusing on the Baron’s proclivities for the first ten or so minutes of the film does have its advantages. For example, instead of cutting to static title cards for the credit sequence, Francis instead chooses to hold on Peter Cushing’s Baron as he performs surgery on his freshly acquired corpse in one, uninterrupted shot. Set against Don Banks’ striking and thunderous score, the scene is a powerful showcase to the attention to detail with which Cushing approached the role, having sought out advice from practicing surgeons and practiced his motions to ensure his actions would match that of a medical professional’s.
The opening also provides a taste of the familiar when it comes to set dressing and production design, showcasing his elaborate laboratory which evoked cartoonish-mad-scientist more than any such place of experimentation Peter Cushing’s Baron had yet to find himself. Complete with large tubes of liquids bearing strikingly vibrant blues and yellows, thick, misty smoke bathed in intermittent green light and all the twisting wires, tubes and mounted diodes one could imagine being necessary to resurrect the dead.
It’s in the laboratory where the film first makes clear its intentions to harken back to 1931’s Frankenstein, merging the new with the old and tackling the familiar story with all of the dark, conniving charisma that Peter Cushing first brought to the role in 1957. For, before long, the Baron’s deeds catch up to him and he’s again forced to flee, this time back home to his manor in Karlstaad. It’s there that a flashback that serves as a redux of The Curse of Frankenstein, if not an overly long one, further cements Evil’s desire to be a more expensive and perhaps stylish version of something familiar as opposed to an entirely unique outing.
Joining the Baron on his journey is Hans, his obligatory, young, male devotee, played with enthusiastic aplomb by Sandor Elès. Hans is well aware of his master’s intentions and is more than happy to comply, suggesting an affinity for the Baron that seems to spread beyond tutor and student and into the realm of unrequited affection. Still, the Baron remains focused on his unique aims, so it stands to reason that such emotions would never even register on his radar regardless.
On their way into town they encounter Rena, only named in the TV version of the film, a deaf-mute beggar girl whom they rescue from a gang of lecherous men. Katy Wild plays Rena with convincing soul, crafting a complex character with nothing more than mannerisms and gestures, providing the film with one of its more fascinating characters. Her inability to communicate and connect with others makes her uniquely positioned to empathize with the creature all Frankenstein films will eventually concern themselves with.
Once in town the story fractures, introducing the arrival of a local carnival as well as the fact that the Baron’s home and all of his possessions have since been ransacked by the town in his absence. Here, the film starts to feel somewhat episodic, betraying its television origins, as Frankenstein first embarks on a quest to retrieve his ring from the gluttonous, lustful Burgomaster, played with delightful nastiness by David Hutcheson, before eventually uncovering the monster from his past.
Still, there’s a pathos that springs from Peter Cushing’s Baron that feels fresh and wounded here. Despite the break in continuity, one gets the impression that the Baron has indeed lived through the events of the prior films, experienced his continual failures and feels at a loss when he returns to his home to find nothing but destruction and decay. He laments his position, acknowledges the target that follows the misunderstood mind of a genius (at least, as he sees it) and the manner in which Peter Cushing espouses these inner thoughts manages to conjure some very real empathy for the man who so recklessly provides life to damaged beasts.
In town they also encounter a circus hypnotist named Zoltan. Peter Woodthorpe brings Zoltan to life with all of the seedy charm that an emissary of the underworld might command, crafting a believably convincing but altogether untrustworthy scamp who could just as easily be one of the film’s heroes as one of its villains. Frankenstein takes note of him right away upon seeing him onstage, seemingly aware of his usefulness but unsure of how to exploit it, something the film circles back to further along.
These sequences are not devoid of entertainment, far from it. Watching Peter Cushing fuming in a bar while garbed in a masquerade mask before storming the bed chambers of the old Burgomaster and his young buxom wife is a joy, endowing him with a bit of action-hero smarminess that had hitherto been absent from the Frankenstein set. They may result in some tonal inconsistencies and narrative clunkiness, but there are certainly worse ways to spend a runtime.
Having crossed the Burgomaster, the Baron is again on the run. This time it’s Rena who comes to his aid, leading him and Hans to a hidden cave nearby. Again, Francis’ artistry is on full display here, the natural light eking into the cave providing nuanced shade and depth that reflects the characters psyches and presents the sort of fantastical environment where one might believably encounter the frozen body of a reanimated monster from the past. Shortly thereafter Frankenstein does indeed locate his monster, frozen in ice, as though in stasis, waiting for the Baron’s inevitable return.
Frankenstein, Rena and Hans make short work of crafting a fire to melt him out of his frozen prison and soon after have the creature back in the decrepit manor for further study. The monster, played by Australian wrestler and first time actor Kiwi Kingston for his imposing stature, has a rueful way about him that might’ve been more effective had it not been for the poorly executed make-up. Intending to evoke Jack Pierce’s original look, Roy Ashton’s monster turns up with a squared off head that resembles the sort of papier-mâché used to construct a piñata for a child’s birthday party. With the bolts on the top of the skull instead of the neck and the jagged, poorly constructed design, the actor’s head is less concealed— clearly a person peering through a mask. There is no melding of monster and man, rather an unsuccessful effect that holds the fiend back from achieving the pathos necessary to spark emotional impact.
Without a captivating creation to anchor the heart of the back half, the troubles in the narrative become more glaring. Upon realizing that his monster’s brain is intact but not functioning, Frankenstein decides to enlist the help of Zoltan to spark the mental connection required to grant his creation its sentience once more. Oddly, this places Zoltan in the film’s driver seat, effectively sidelining the Baron in lieu of the kind of science that borders on magic even more so than the sorts of things Victor does in his lab with dead bodies and harnessed lightning bolts.
The final act of the film transforms into a revenge story with Zoltan at the helm, sending the monster on missions of murder and mayhem to quench the deranged hypnotist’s thirst for retribution against the town that ousted him. While it’s quite fun to watch Peter Woodthorpe’s Zoltan become progressively sweatier and more mad, it feels less and less of a piece with the remainder of the film. All the while, Rena becomes more emotionally intertwined with the monster in one of the film’s more poignant and fascinating plot lines, something that would have resonated better in a more focused film alongside a more convincingly designed creature.
All in all, by the time the film reaches its obligatory mob of pitchfork clutching townsfolk on their march to Frankenstein’s lonely manor, the climax feels preordained rather than earned. The Baron fights for the life of his creature, having been largely absent from its goings on in the final thirty minutes and Zoltan is pushed aside once more so that Frankenstein himself can swing through the fire and attempt, in his own warped way, to save the day. As with the remainder of the film, the finale is beautiful and striking, but devoid of much weight and the kind of foregone conclusion one might expect of a deus-ex-machina style ending to a weekly televised Frankenstein adventure than that of a feature.
In the end, like so many Hammer movies that came before and after The Evil of Frankenstein, the townsfolk and the film’s surviving characters watch on from a distance as the Baron’s homestead burns to the ground. What was viewed by some as evil has been thwarted and, once more, not understanding or growth, but destruction rules the day.
While the Baron emerges from the story more empathetic than ever before, having done little but rob a grave and place his trust in the wrong circus performer, the muddy nature of the narrative and the lack of cohesive elements lessen the overall impact. The entry certainly has its value, most notably Freddie Francis’ penchant for visual acuity, but on the whole it fails to achieve the heights so desired by its financiers. Indeed, The Evil of Frankenstein feels rather slight in comparison to its family of seven, serving more as a reminder of what works so well in superior efforts than its own often inconsistent strengths.
The Special Features
This release comes equipped with a brand new 4K scan of the interpositive by Shout! Factory in its 1.85:1 formats, replacing the previously available cropped 1.78:1 studio master from Universal. The picture is textured and colors are striking, particularly in the elaborate laboratory sequences, offering a huge upgrade from its former release. The DTS-HD Master Mono track preserves the powerful score with the energy required while offering crisp dialogue that is easy to discern. It’s a wonderful, definitive package worthy of every collection.
Audio Commentary, by Constantine Nasr
Hammer film historian Constantine Nasr provides yet another informative Hammer track on this disc, chronicling the film in great detail, following its conception, production and eventual release.
Describing the film as “misunderstood but beloved”, Nasr traverses the legacy of The Evil of Frankenstein, covering the major players involved in its creation: like director Freddie Francis’ ability to make a bland script more interesting and Peter ‘Props’ Cushing’s natural tendency to flesh out his own character and scenes. He goes back to the late 50’s and discusses the project’s origins, tracking it from an unused episode of a Frankenstein TV episode through its unsuccessful commercial release.
The track is backed by authority, respect and care, a hallmark of Constantine Nasr’s work and, as is typically the case with these commentaries, absolutely essential listening.
The Evil of Frankenstein — TV Version (1:37:47)
Approximately ten minutes longer than the original release, this low resolution print is tinted red but otherwise colorless, aside from the occasional bit of green. This cut offers three additional scenes commissioned by Universal Studios to extend the runtime for network television.
These scenes include the townsfolk discussing a stolen body as well as Rena’s backstory. Much of what was shot has to do with Rena’s father desperately seeking retribution against Frankenstein for profaning the name of God as well as creating the monster which so terrified his daughter as to cause her to become deaf and mute. While there is an interesting POV shot of the monster as he approaches young Rena in the forest, the scenes are largely effortless and distracting, awkwardly spliced into the film and generally disrupting the narrative’s already disjointed flow.
While it doesn’t work and the quality is low, this version is a welcome inclusion as an interesting curiosity for completists and collectors alike.
The Making of The Evil of Frankenstein (28:30)
(2013, Final Cut Entertainment)
Ported over from the 2013 Final Cut Entertainment UK Blu-ray release, this bite-sized look at the production narrated by Edward de Souza runs through the players, the plot and the legacy of The Evil of Frankenstein, albeit on a fairly surface level.
Beginning with what made Evil stand apart from the franchise, the lack of Terence Fisher and the break in continuity, this feature discusses how the film positioned the Baron as more sinned against than the sinner. Anecdotes from the set are shared, such as Caron Gardner’s tendency to imagine black spiders to frighten herself when necessary, and Peter Cushing’s burns acquired when he refused to let a stuntman swing into the flames during the film’s conclusion.
The documentary is interesting and illuminating enough, however Constantine Nasr’s commentary track offers a far more in depth look at the film and stands as the superior method of exploring it.
The Men Who Made Hammer — Freddie Francis (29:40)
(2020, Shout! Factory)
Tony Dalton, author of the book Freddie Francis: The Straight Story from Moby Dick to Glory, chronicles the prolific cinematographer and director’s life from his birth in London while German zeppelins bombed the city to his final shoot with director David Lynch on The Straight Story (1999).
Dalton covers the multitude of films Francis worked on, pointing out landmark achievements like his work on The Innocents (1961) where he pushed for black and his eventual partnership with Hammer and Amicus. He discusses the latter half of Francis’s career and his unfortunate typecasting as a horror filmmaker before partnering with David Lynch in a long and illustrious collaboration that included movies like The Elephant Man (1980) and Dune (1984), before winning an Oscar for Glory (1989). He concludes with Francis’ final sentiment, that he would like to be remembered as a filmmaker, not a director or cameraman, just as a filmmaker.
Tales of Frankenstein (27:14)
The unreleased pilot of the abandoned Frankenstein TV show originally produced in the late 1950s, the episode provides a taste of what the series might have offered to fans of the franchise. Beginning with a voiceover from a man inside a crystal ball, not all that dissimilar from Lon Chaney, Jr.’s Inner Sanctum Mysteries series, the episode goes on to hit all the classic landmarks of a Frankenstein tale. An old castle, a stolen corpse and sparking laboratory all serve as the backdrop to this tale of a woman so desperate to save her dying husband that she enlists the help of a defamed scientist to accomplish it. The results are, as one might expect, disastrous.
The episode is a fun window into something that might’ve been, preserved here as part of the context and history of not only The Evil of Frankenstein but the Frankenstein cycle as a whole.
A Moment with Caron Gardner (2:24)
(2013, Final Cut Entertainment)
A very brief interview with actress Caron Gardner, the Burgomaster’s Wife in the film, offering an opportunity to talk about the trials and tribulations of being a glamour model in her youth and how that factored into casting and her career at large. Still, she admits that she’s happy with who she is and her legacy and feels lucky to have been a part of Hammer’s story. It’s a pleasant handful of minutes that offers a bit of insight to the production and the studio’s history.
Interview with Assistant Director William P. Cartlidge (8:05)
(2020, Shout! Factory)
Assistant Director William P. Cartlidge recalls his time on set and what it was like working with Freddie Francis. Admitting that the two did not get along all that well, Cartlidge talks about the director’s insecurity and how they approached the film as being more about atmosphere than plot. He talks about the general professionalism on set, particularly that of Peter Cushing, and laments that the most difficult part of the movie business is managing the various “genius” on set as “there’s just too many of us”. An enjoyable and enlightening interview offering yet another unique perspective harkening back to a different time.
Interview with Actress Katy Wild (11:19)
(2020, Shout! Factory)
Actress Katy Wild provides a brief summary of her career and how she came to be one of the supporting players in The Evil of Frankenstein. She discusses the seriousness with which she approached the part, seeking truth in her performance and desperately driving for authenticity. She delves into the idiosyncrasies of her character and the emotional traumas that led to her fate. She talks about being raised in a convent and how uncomfortable much of the subject material was to her and the reason her character had no dialogue: the producers wanted the script to be easier to write.
Another enlightening interview on the disc, that further fleshes out the history of the film.
Theatrical Trailer (2:24)
Green text rises over a carnival, “down the years has come a name, one word that strikes terror into all hearts..” The word “FRANKENSTEIN” appears over images of the Baron doing his dastardly work. The title appears and the image cuts to feet being dragged across a table and a little girl screaming. A pretty young woman screams from her bed in a nightdress as a man in his pajamas is thrown about the room. The narrator continues, “the evil of a man who created a monster by crude surgery”. Peter Cushing as the Baron appears in a bar wearing a mask and Peter Winthrope is introduced as Zoltan, his dark eyes filling the frame. The remainder of the cast is introduced and finally Peter Cushing leaps through flames toward his creation. The final words of the announcer emanate from the screen, “the greatest chiller of them all!”
Image Gallery (8:05)
On set photography, candid shots of the cast and crew, lobby cards, publicity photos, make-up tests, Roy Ashton’s concept art for the monster, posters, both domestic and international, newspaper advertisements and more comprise this entertaining time capsule dedicated to The Evil of Frankenstein.
Despite its announcement in 1958 and the enormous financial success of what had come before, it would take another six years for Hammer to spark life into its third Frankenstein picture. Without its creative trust of Terence Fisher and Jimmy Sangster as well as an abandonment of continuity, The Evil of Frankenstein was set to be a divergence from its predecessors in style and story, harkening back to the iconography that had made Frankenstein a household name in 1931. With Universal Studios on their side and acclaimed cinematographer Freddie Francis at the helm, it seemed Hammer, with James Carreras and Anthony Hinds leading the charge, would finally be able to craft the kind of robust, gothic Frankenstein epic they had been dreaming of since Peter Cushing had reinvented the character in The Curse of Frankenstein.
The result was a movie overcome with gorgeous production design and an expert sense of visual style accompanying a story that was as fractured as its filmic execution was assured. At times stagnant in its desire to recollect the franchise’s proudest moments and at others confused in its desire to be something modern and exciting, The Evil of Frankenstein works in fits and starts, failing to achieve the cohesion or impact that its Terence Fisher directed brethren tended to arrive at.
Shout! Factory brings the film home on Blu-ray with a Collector’s Edition that puts the former Universal US release to pasture with a gorgeous new transfer and a slew of special features that serve to flesh out the history, merit and legacy of this iconic Hammer picture once and for all. Amongst the making of and various interviews is Constantine Nasr’s essential commentary track, a feature that is worth the price of the disc alone and one that will undoubtedly foster a newfound appreciation for this often maligned entry in the Frankenstein cycle. This is a disc absolutely worth seeking out for any horror fan, Hammer or otherwise.
While the committee-like nature of the film’s eventual production is what undoubtedly led to its general misses, its place in the Frankenstein set should not be underestimated. Putting aside the messy nature of its narrative, it’s here where the Baron is first viewed with real empathy, transposing his self-imposed victim status from the previous two entries to the film’s real world and offering a look at Frankenstein that would go on to inform subsequent entries, even if the continuities don’t care to reflect it. It’s The Evil of Frankenstein that calls upon Peter Cushing to evolve his performance as the mad man so intent on resurrecting what should be dead and gone and, despite its shortcomings, there is no denying its importance in the franchise and Hammer’s oeuvre.
The fourth Frankenstein film would again see Terence Fisher seated in the director’s chair, abandoning any semblance of what had come before in a Frankenstein picture and delving into the metaphysical nature of the human soul. Frankenstein Created Woman (1967) would push the boundaries of the horror gothic, asking the larger— vastly rhetorical— existential questions that the franchise had only flirted with in the past and landing in morally murky territory that sparked far more thought than it did startled shrieks from its audience. In essence, the opposite of the film that came before it and, perhaps, only possible because of The Evil of Frankenstein’s missteps.
The Curse of Frankenstein made Hammer history and the franchise’s import in the eyes of the studio and its many fans remained a part of the DNA of every subsequent entry. They traverse Hammer’s catalog in step with the decisions and strategies the studio was making at the time and Evil is no exception. Coming out of the studio’s Golden Age, bolstered by Universal and sure that the franchise which started it all could not miss, The Evil of Frankenstein was birthed, if not hastily. As it is, it’s a beautiful film with a great deal to offer, but one that simply fails to stack up against the titles which bear its titular name. However, its lessons reverberated and led to what came next, proving its worth, if not in the moment, in the long run. It may not have been historic, but like Curse before it, The Evil of Frankenstein got those in creative control to look forward instead of backward and, on that level, is very successful indeed.