FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED. (1969)
DIRECTED BY TERENCE FISHER. MUSIC BY JAMES BERNARD.
STARRING PETER CUSHING, VERONICA CARLSON, SIMON WARD, THORLEY WALTERS, WINDSOR DAVIES, MAXINE AUDLEY AND FREDDIE JONES.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
‘He’s a better doctor than he is a painter…!’
Wow, this is a really dark addition to the Hammer-Frankenstein canon. Peter Cushing as the evil Baron Frankenstein actually rapes Veronica Carlson’s character in it, and I’ve never seen the gentlemanly Peter Cushing committing anything stronger than a little murder or grave-robbing as the old Baron Franky. At ninety-seven minutes, it’s longer than some other Hammer-Frankenstein outings too, and the plot gets quite complicated at times.
Let’s begin by saying that it’s a dark day for beautiful blonde landlady Anna Spengler (Veronica Carlson) when Peter Cushing’s Baron Frankenstein checks into her boarding-house, under the thinly veiled disguise of a Mr. Fenner.
He’s actually the notorious Baron Frankenstein who, several years ago, caused a scandal with another medic, a Dr. Brandt, for having the mad idea of transplanting one man’s brain into another man’s body. Wacky, huh?
It’s a change, anyway, from cobbling together a living being from the body parts of cadavers he’s dug up from graveyards or cut down from the gallows. Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein did this in James Whale’s two brilliant old horror movies, FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), and indeed Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein has done this himself before as well in various other Hammer-Frankenstein outings.
Baron Franky is determined to continue his gory researches and, what’s more, to complete the unfinished project this time. He’s very driven and nothing and no-one will stop him. He needs to get to Dr. Brandt, his old co-conspirator, because Dr. Brandt has a formula that Frankie desperately needs, in order to go all the way with his brain transplantation ideas. But Dr. Brandt is in the local mental asylum, his mind, to all intents and purposes, ruined. What’s poor Franky supposed to do?
Well, let me tell you exactly what he’s fixing to do. He blackmails the gorgeous Anna’s handsome young doctor fiancé Karl Holst, who rather conveniently works at the asylum, into helping him to kidnap Dr. Brandt and take him to the cellar at Anna’s house. Here, Baron Franky has rigged up a makeshift operating theatre. The only thing is, just who- or what- will he be operating on…?
Dr. Brandt is very close to death after a surprise heart attack. Franky proposes to whip out his brain, his lovely big juicy brain with the secret formula in it, and pop it all nice and fresh into the living body of… someone else.
That basically means that ‘someone else’ will have to be chosen, secretly abducted and operated on to have his brain removed, leaving his head all nice and empty for Dr. Brandt’s delicious, formula-filled brain.
Then, Dr. Brandt’s brain, by the way, will have to be cured of its insanity before it can be coaxed into giving up any of its scientific secrets. It’s Baron Frankenstein’s most ambitious, most complicated and undoubtedly most diabolical scheme yet. Have we any volunteers for the role of living accommodation for the brain of one Dr. Brandt? Come on now, folks, don’t all rush at once…!
Baron Frankenstein refers to these transplants as the next logical branch of surgery. People back then would have been superstitious about this kind of thing, calling it witchcraft and sorcery and the devil’s work and all that, but the Baron was actually quite right. Nowadays, we do transplant operations as almost a matter of routine, but I don’t know if we can just swap around brains willy-nilly quite yet…!
The décor and costumes in this one are just stunning. The blonde, angel-faced Anna Spengler (Veronica Carlson: Hammer’s DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN) is especially decorative in her pale pinks and blues and other pastel colours, and her dresses are really flattering.
I like that she’s not a stick insect either, but a really beautiful fuller-figured woman. Her boobs look utterly spectacular in the long pink nightie she’s wearing when the randy Baron Franky comes into her bedroom and rapes her, while her boyfriend Karl is off doing something else.
It’s really quite shocking to see perenially nice guy Peter Cushing in the role of a sexual aggressor, but he’s quite convincing in it too, let me tell you. He’s dripping with olde-worlde courtesy, sure, but he’s got grit and determination too and he lets nothing stand in the way of what he wants, whether that’s Anna Spengler’s watery coffee or her luscious body under that flimsy, diaphanous pink nightie…
Thorley Walters, as much a part of the Hammer scenery as Michael Ripper, plays a policeman here, the copper on the trail of the nefarious Baron Frankenstein. He’s played a Burgermeister in the Hammer films before (VAMPIRE CIRCUS), an acolyte of Dracula’s (DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS) and assistant to Peter Cushing’s Baron Franky (AND FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN), and he’s often seen as a kind of buffoon or rather comical character. His role in FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED doesn’t alter that status in any way, lol.
The scene in the back garden of Anna’s house with the burst water main is terrifically ghoulish. The shocking finale in the Brandt family mansion is superb too. And you needn’t think that Dr. Brandt is just going to roll over and play dead when he realises what Baron Franky has in ‘mind’ for his brain, pun definitely intended. There’s gonna be a helluva fight for the last piece of pudding, to quote Gemma Craven as author Polly Clarke in the FATHER TED episode entitled And God Created Woman.
FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED is an excellent example of Hammer-Frankenstein madness and mischief, and I strongly advise you lads and lassies to watch it. And if you run an olde-worlde boarding-house along the lines of Anna Spengler’s, beware of courteous gentlemen carrying doctor’s bags applying as potential boarders. It’s just not worth the hassle, and the back yard will never be the same again. Come on, guys, it’s not brain surgery…!
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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