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Film / Frankenstein 1970

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Frankenstein 1970 is a 1958 Sci-Fi Horror film, shot in black and white and CinemaScope, starring Boris Karloff and featuring Don "Red" Barry. The film was directed by Howard W. Koch, written by Richard Landau and George Worthing Yates and produced by Aubrey Schenck.

Baron Victor von Frankenstein (Karloff) suffered torture and disfigurement at the hands of the Nazis as punishment for not cooperating with them during World War II. Horribly disfigured, he nevertheless continues his work as a scientist. Needing funds to support his experiments, the Baron allows a television crew to shoot a made-for-television horror film about his monster-making family at his castle in Germany.

And, yes, as you may have gathered from the title the story takes place the then-future year of 1970.

Frankenstein 1970 provides examples of:

  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: It is strongly implied that is the torture he received at the hands of the Nazis that tipped Victor over the edge into obsession and insanity.
  • Bridal Carry: The monster carries Caroline this way when he carries her back to Victor's lab.
  • Casting Couch: The director Douglas Row is attempting to apply this trope to The Ingenue Caroline, but she rebuffs his advances.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: As the monster doesn't appear outside the lab until almost an hour into this film, the audience is treated to a lot of the interlinked personal lives of the film crew.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Mike is in love with Judy and continues to determinedly press his suit despite knowing that she is carrying a torch for her ex-husband.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Victor comments that the concentration camp commandant having his tongue cut out was 'a beautiful piece of surgery' (implicitly admiring his own work).
  • The Faceless: Possibly due to not having the rights to the iconic Frankenstein design, the Monster always has it head covered in thick bandages that still invoke the shape of the classic look. The only time it doesn't is when it's on the operating table—showing that it has a huge skull instead of a face.
  • Faint in Shock: Judy faints when she opens the door of her bedroom (expecting to see Mike) and is instead confronted by the monster. It is possible that she actually dies of fright at this point, as in the next scene she is lying dead in Victor's lab with no indication of how she died.
  • Fake Action Prologue: The movie opens with a monster chasing a girl. It turns out to be a shooting of a film.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: The Baron's hulking servant who is doubling as the monster in the Film Within a Film is named Hans Himmler. And his given name is only revealed in the credits. For most of the movie, he is just addressed as Himmler.
  • Frankenstein Monster: Victor is attempting to revivify his ancestor's original creature.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Victor has a wicked scar down his left check that puckers around his seemingly sightless left eye. It comes as no surprise to learn he is a Mad Scientist.
  • He Knows Too Much: Victor murders Schutter after Schutter discovers his secret laboratory.
  • Human Resources: After Victor accidentally damages the eyes he had intended to implant in the monster, he starts killing members of the film crew that are renting his castle; attempting to find a pair of eyes that are a suitable match.
  • Hypno Pendulum: Victor von Frankenstein does this with reflected light; playing it across the eyes of his victim while he talks in a low, hypnotic tone. He hypnotises Schutter with light reflected off a pair of forceps, and Mike with light reflected off a coin.
  • Info Dump: Victor delivers a brilliant and oddly hypnotic info dump where he explains the history of his family and the fate of the original monster. This turns out to be a piece to camera he is delivering for the documentary that is being shot.
  • The Ingenue: The jealous Judy refers to Caroline as an ingénue, and it is readily apparent that means both the characters she plays and Caroline herself. Caroline's behaviour through the movie reinforces this opinion, and she becomes the object of Victor's desire.
  • Luck-Based Search Technique: Schutter discovers the secret entrance to Victor's laboratory while dusting a plaque in the crypt.
  • Mad Doctor: As well as being a Mad Scientist, Victor is an accomplished surgeon. When describing a concentration camp commandant who was found with his tongue cut out (implicitly by Victor), Victor remarks that it was a 'beautiful piece of surgery'.
  • Mad Scientist: Victor von Frankenstein is obsessed with continuing his family's blasphemous legacy.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The only real evidence that the film is supposed to be taking place in the future is the ease with which Victor is able to purchase a nuclear reactor and have it installed in his castle.
  • Ominous Fog: Fog seems to be a constant presence around the castle. The film opens with Caroline being chased through the fog; Morgan says they are going to need to rethink some of the outdoor shots as he cannot film through the fog; and when Row and Rabb desperately race back to the castle, they are driving through fog.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Mad Scientist Victor plays creepy music on the pipe to relax between his unholy experiments, which tends to freak out his guests.
  • Police Are Useless: Inspector Rabb and his men are completely useless. Rabb initially dismisses reports of three people vanishing from the castle as nothing to be concerned about, and then misses vital evidence when he searches the crypt: evidence Row is able to discover in a few minutes when he searches the crypt later. It is left to Row to discover proof that the three people did not leave town at all, which finally forces Rabb to act.
  • Pursued Protagonist: The film opens with Caroline being pursued by a shambling monster and being driven into the lake. This is then revealed to a scene for the movie they are shooting.
  • Screaming Woman: Caroline. She first appears screaming as she flees a monster in what is later revealed to be a scene in the movie they are shooting. She later screams in exactly the same way when the real monster appears. She even screams when Victor von Frankenstein is explaining his family history (and ruins the take).
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: After nearly being drowned in the lake, Caroline emerges wearing a wet, clinging costume.
  • Skull for a Head: The monster has a skull for a head as Frankenstein has yet to finish affixing flesh to it.
  • The Speechless: Himmler doesn't talk at all during the film. It is not clear if he can.
  • Tongue Trauma: Discussed. Victor keeps making veiled threats to Gottfried about what happened to an overly inquisitive commandant at Belsen. He eventually reveals that the commandant disappeared for several days and, when his body was found, his tongue had been cut out.
  • Touch of the Monster: The 'Death Ray Vision' version, as seen on the page image.
  • The Von Trope Family: Baron Victor von Frankenstein is the last of the Frankenstein line.
  • Wacky Sound Effect: A (probably) unintentional example. The disposal unit Victor uses to get rid of body parts makes the sound of a flushing toilet. Originally, it made a grinding noise, but the studio decided it was too gruesome and changed it. They probably went too far the other way, as the new effect caused audiences to laugh.
  • Younger Than They Look: Victor has been aged considerably by his treatment at the hands of the Nazis. He is the same age as his friend Gottfried, but looks decades older.