Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed

06/29/2022 08:59

Film: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed

Year: 1969

Director: Terence Fisher

Writer: Bert Batt and Anthony Nelson Keys

Starring: Peter Cushing, Veronica Carlson and Freddie Jones



This is another of the Hammer Frankenstein films that I saw after college. This is one that I thought was solid enough that first viewing but haven’t revisited in close to a decade. What makes this tough is that I don’t remember what happens in the movies that are in between the first two for this series leading into this one. Regardless, I did see this at the Gateway Film Center on 35mm.

Synopsis: Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing), with the aid of a young doctor and his fiancée, kidnaps the mentally sick Dr. Brandt (George Pravda) to perform the first brain transplant operation.

We start with seeing Dr. Heidecke (Jim Collier) returning home. On his way he is decapitated by someone with a long knife from the shadows. Edited in with this is a burglar trying to break into a door and gets spooked. This ends up leading to them getting in a tussle with the killer. During their fight, the box carrying the head of the doctor breaks, getting blood on the thief. He flees in terror as we see the other man is hideous. This turns out to be a mask and it is Baron Frankenstein. He doesn’t have much time as he has to dump a body and flee.

The police are called and they’re led by Inspector Frisch (Thorley Walters). He speaks with a police doctor (Geoffrey Bayldon). The doctor believes whoever is doing these crimes is a doctor. Inspector Frisch doesn’t like being shown up, so he scoffs at the idea. The evidence confirms what the doctor states. This also leads them to their first break.

Baron Frankenstein heads to a new city and rents a room with Anna Spengler (Veronica Carlson). Her mother owns the place, but she is ailing currently. In her absence, her daughter is running the boarding house. Her fiancé is trying to help and he works at the local asylum. His name is Karl (Simon Ward). His superior is Professor Richter (Freddie Jones). We see as they bring in a new patient that is a mad woman (Colette O’Neil). Also, there is a brilliant doctor who went mad by the name of Brandt.

Fortunes smile on Frankenstein when he returns to the boarding house to find a box on the doorstep that Karl dropped. It is cocaine he is stealing to help Anna’s mother. Frankenstein sees an interesting opportunity to extort him into helping. He is gathering supplies to continue his research. He also uses Karl along with Anna to find a way to remove Dr. Brandt from the asylum. His goal is curing this doctor of his madness and to discover the secret of his research. There are complications to these plans along the way.

That will be where I leave my recap of this movie. Where I want to start is my thoughts on sequels. I’m fine if you can do something fresh, which my knowledge of these Hammer films do that. For this movie, we are getting away from creating a human by doing a brain transplant. My issue here though, I’m pretty sure this has already been accomplished in The Revenge of Frankenstein. It was something at the end of that movie, but I will digress.

What struck me about this installment is the character of Baron Frankenstein. I was briefly chatting with someone online about this film and we were both shocked by the turn of this character. Baron Frankenstein is truly a villain here. He is extorting Karl and Anna. He is willing to commit murder. He even does something even more heinous to Anna as well. What we get in the earlier movies of him blurring the lines of right and wrong with science. He has lost all his humanity here. Cushing is great in this role, but I would be curious as to his thoughts on the movie.

Something else that struck me is the science of what they’re trying to do. Dr. Brandt believes that he has discovered how to do a brain transplant. His wife, Ella (Maxine Audley), is convinced this knowledge and Baron Frankenstein is what drove him mad. Recently I was talking with a friend about these movies and he points out how this science isn’t possible. The movie doesn’t delve too much into this, but he’s right. What I like though is Baron Frankenstein has had issues with putting a brain into a body and it not working out. He needs this secret from Dr. Brandt to further his research.

What makes the movies in this series work outside of taking the basic story and tweaking it is the acting. I’ve already said what I can about Cushing. He is a legend. Carlson is quite attractive as Anna. I feel horrible for her, especially with how Frankenstein treats her. It makes the baron a scumbag. Ward is solid as Karl. I like that we have this young, upstart doctor who is like Frankenstein, but he disagrees with the research this villain is doing. Jones does well as Professor Richter. We don’t see much of him. His performance is great though for something that happens later. I do think that Walters and Bayldon add comedic elements which worked. The rest of the cast also rounded this out for what was needed.

Then the last things to go into would be the filmmaking. For the effects, we don’t get a lot, but what we do looks good. I think that the blood we see has good color and consistency. The other effects look real enough for me since they were done practically. I think this movie is shot well. The sets and costumes fit the era this is set. Then the last thing is that the soundtrack works for what the movie needs.

In conclusion, this is a solid follow up. I don’t think it is the best in the series, but I like how they’re making the experiments used are different enough. I do believe that Frankenstein already did what he’s trying to figure out if memory serves. Regardless, the acting is good. The effects and cinematography are solid. The soundtrack also fits for what was needed. For me, this is movie is above average and lacking what made of the earlier ones more special.


My Rating: 7 out of 10