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Film: The Curse of Frankenstein

The Curse of Frankenstein is a British horror film from the year 1957. It stars Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as The Creature. It is Hammer's first Frankenstein film, their first colour film and it single-handedly established the Hammer Horror.

Owing more to the Universal Horror films than the original novel, this film once again tells a story of a scientist who creates life with terrible consequences.

Fascinated with Creating Life, Baron Victor von Frankenstein starts conducting experiments of such with the help of his tutor Dr. Paul Krempe. Unlike the well-meaning scientist from the Universal films, Frankenstein is depicted as an unfaithful womanizer who has no qualms against killing people for body-parts and having those who obstruct his work murdered.

It was during this film when Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee met in person and struck a lifelong friendship.

The Curse was followed by The Revenge of Frankenstein in 1959 and Hammer remade it as The Horror of Frankenstein in 1970.

This film is cursed with:

  • Adaptational Villainy: Victor is depicted as much less sympathetic and well-meaning than in the original book or the earlier movies.
  • Arranged Marriage: Victor is arranged to marry his cousin Elizabeth, an arrangement that she doesn't mind at all. Victor couldn't care less.
  • Batman Gambit: Justine tells Victor that she is pregnant and that she will reveal his secrets unless he marries her like he promised. Knowing that his laboratory is the first place that she would look, Victor tells her that she'd need evidence if anyone is to believe her. His laboratory being the place where he keeps the Creature captive, this leads to her death at its hands.
  • Bertha In The Attic: Victor keeps the Creature chained to the wall of his laboratory after its second revival.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Creature is subdued after its initial revival when Paul hits it with a chair.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The acid pool.
  • Creating Life: After discovering the means of resurrection, Victor decides to bring a human being to life.
  • Destination Defenestration: The Creature meets its end when it crashes through a window and falls to the acid pool below.
  • Dramatic Unmask: The Creature dramatically removes the shroud from its face after Victor comes face to face with it.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The film is told as a flashback story by the Baron who is in jail for murder waiting execution. The ending leaves it uncertain whether the events really happened. Especially given the Victor's personality, we can usually rely on him to be an Unreliable Narrator.
  • Eye Scream: Not shown, but Paul remarks how the eyes of the first corpse, that he and Victor stole, is missing its eyes due to the birds getting to it first.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: Priest's arrival to the prison is underlined by the tolling of the bell.
  • For Science!: Paul helps Victor with his work early on, but becomes reluctant to help him after Victor ruthlessness becomes evident.
  • Framing Device / How We Got Here: The film's story is told by Victor in prison as he awaits his execution.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: A more murderous example.
  • Grave Robbing: Victor and Paul pick their material from the gallows.
  • Hollywood Acid: The acid pool, which can disintegrate bodies completely.
  • Hollywood Kiss: There is an intense make-out session between Baron Frankenstein and the maid Justine. It quickly becomes clear, however, that although Justine is in love, to the Baron she is just a fling.
  • Instant Thunder: Prevalent in the night when Victor's creation comes to life.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Thanks to an unplanned lightining strike, Victor's creation receives the energy it needs to come alive.
  • Love Triangle: Victor's maid Justine loves him, his arranged wife Elizabeth loves him, but he cares about neither of them, as there is science to be done.
  • Mad Scientist: Guess who?
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Victor's laboratory is filled with colourful beakers and electric machinery.
  • Man on Fire: The Creature cathes on fire when Victor throws an oil lamp at it.
  • Mix-and-Match Man: The bodies used for Victor's experiments are in various sates of decomposition, which forces him to pick the best parts from a variety of corpses.
  • Moe Greene Special: Paul shoots the Creature's right eye out during its first escape.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Victor speculates that the only reason the Creature is homicidal is because Paul damaged the brain before implantation, then damaged it further when he shot it in the head. If true, this would mean Paul is just as culpable (albeit indirectly) for the Creature's murders as Victor was.
  • Neck Lift: Upon facing its creator, the Creature starts strangling Victor while lifting from the ground.
  • Off with His Head!: Victor is charged to face the guillotine in the end.
  • Opening Scroll
  • People Jars: The resurrectable subjects are kept in a container filled with liquid.
  • Pet the Dog: Victor gets one in the end when he saves Elizabeth from the Creature.
  • Precious Puppy: When Victor is still relatively likable, he and Paul bring a dead puppy back to life.
  • Pretty in Mink: Some of Elizabeth's outfits. Two have ermine muffs, and one is a blue dress lined with brown fur.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Paul to Elizabeth.
  • Smug Snake: Baron Frankenstein, particularly with Justine. In the middle of making out with her, he gloats about how she will be required to wait on her rival Elizabeth.
  • Stepford Smiler: Elizabeth increasingly as she realizes that the Baron is obsessed with his mysterious, possibly evil experiments and cares little for her.
  • Überwald
  • Villain Protagonist: Dr. Frankenstein, whose villainy would be continued on other films.
  • The Von Trope Family: Victor von Frankenstein.
  • The X of Y
  • Your Cheating Heart: Despite being engaged to Elizabeth, Victor has an on-going affair with Justine the maid.

CinderellaFilms of the 1950sThe Devil's Hairpin
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QuatermassHammer HorrorHorror of Dracula

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