Men are from Mars, Women are from… Frankenstein

One Hammer’s most cutting horror efforts, Frankenstein Created Women aims for a particularly ghastly tone. As with any Frankenstein tale, the theme is reanimating life, but here invokes a spiritual core – it’s not the physical body, rather the soul preserved. “Everything is magic until we understand or master it,” spouts the Baron, with Peter Cushing’s portrayal exuding spectacular scientific arrogance.

Cushing’s Frankenstein, like any other, produces a certain mania. The mad genius trope, but Cushing is special. He’s utterly indifferent to morality or empathy, cold and distant, yet entrancing. With the possibility of conquering religion through scientific experimentation, it’s a terrifying race to extract a human’s very being.

There’s impatience as he waits for bodies. It’s fitting. Frankenstein Created Woman paces itself, lumbering even while establishing the cruel tenor of a small English town, populated with rich snobs and police who deem someone guilty when they walk in a room. The sense of inequality breeds resentment. It’s not difficult to create victims when cane-twirling, top hat wearing, drunken 20-somethings despise their financial lessers. This is world of awful things all-around.

As with most Hammer horror, genre boundaries and barriers shatter with lasting benefit

Frankenstein Created Woman skirts topics of abortion. One of the key locations is a lonely guillotine on a small rolling hill. There’s dripping blood. People lose their heads. In the opening scene, a father looks on at his terrified son seconds before the blade drops. Frankenstein’s lab isn’t a dingy basement – cheap and underfunded, but a well-lit upstairs in a middle class home; it’s almost inviting, contrasting the disreputable use. As with most Hammer horror, for 1967, genre boundaries and barriers shatter with lasting benefit.

In its final act, Frankenstein spawns his beast, not scarred or imperfect. Through surgery, he corrected both of those perceived flaws. Playboy model Susan Denberg is infused with the soul of her lover, sending her on a considered rampage against those who wronged her. She’s a slave, bowing to Frankenstein and delivering coffee. At night, Denberg’s ferocious, implanted personality becomes truth.

That’s different and novel from any other approach to Frankenstein movie sequels. Feisty and empowering, just from the twisted, macabre method. The gentle, shy Denberg spends her first life shamed for facial scarring and a crooked spine. After death, her resurrection makes her “normal.” Being perfect takes Denberg’s purity. Her morals, like Frankenstein’s, turn singularly-minded. Fused with a male soul, her femininity fades. She becomes a killer. Frankenstein indeed created woman, one attractive to the male gaze, but without the person within. Clever if, admittedly, more than likely done as to draw audiences via the image of a woman wielding a hatchet rather than progressive values.

Video

Shout advertises a new 2K master for this Blu-ray. It’s gorgeous. The detail increase over previous releases is immediately evident. Texture and sharpness jump out, bringing facial definition to attention. In the lab or in town, scenery resolves with precision. Never is there loss.

Fine grain lays over the image. Shout’s encode transparently resolves the source, consistent and pleasant. Clean-up leaves patches of dirt, plus an occasional vertical scratch. Technically a fault; aesthetically it’s right.

A generous jump in color isn’t evident at the start. Frankenstein Created Women uses dry, tan interiors for much of the first act. Soon, primaries begin to stretch with vibrant reds in the lead. A trip through a field brings in fantastic greens. Everything is helped by rich, natural contrast, with black levels key during a handful of nighttime sequences. Pure black holds to form.

Audio

A bit shrill, both highs and lows of this DTS-HD track struggle for clarity. Most of Frankenstein Created Women exists in a bland mid-range. Even with consideration given to age, fidelity still leads to a scratchy and messy output.

Note Denberg’s role is dubbed. The track is clear enough to note the difference between her and actors recorded live. Either way, it’s rough but adequate.

Extras

Going all out, Shout presents two commentaries. One is carried by two historians, Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr. The second brings historian Johnathan Rigby together with some of the cast.

Actor Robert Morris is interviewed in a new clip, running 11-minutes as he discusses his part in the Hammer legacy. A split interview with clapper Eddie Collin and second assistant director Joe Marks runs 12-minutes, with both quite open about their time at the studio. A great documentary titled Hammer Glamour lasts 44-minutes, interviewing a number of women featured in Hammer’s key films.

Two 25-minute features produced by Hammer titled The World of Hammer stem from the early ‘90s, although their audio imbalance means the music will overtake the narration/dialog. One focuses on Peter Cushing, the other on Curse of Frankenstein. A massive selection of trailers, radio spots, and poster art complete this A-tier bonus offering.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Frankenstein Created Woman
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Lurid and cruel, Frankenstein Created Woman is among Hammer’s most brash horror outings with Peter Cushing flawless as usual.

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