The Evil of Frankenstein is the third instalment in Hammer’s tremendously successful reinterpretation of the Mary Shelley novel. The previous two films The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) delighted audiences and shocked stuffy critics with their baroque settings, violence, colour, and the unnervingly mannered and icy central performance from the brilliant Peter Cushing. These two films were both directed by Terence Fisher and maintained a sense of continuity thematically and visually. Fisher’s direction in these films is striking without being obvious a lesson that Freddie Francis should have took note of. By 1964 Fisher however was out of favour with Hammer. The reason for this is unclear but the lukewarm reception of The Phantom of the Opera (1964) is thought to have had something to do with it. In his stead was a man who would become a regular at rivals Amicus, the noted cinematographer Freddie Francis. This wasn’t his first foray for Hammer having previously directed the undistinguished Psycho (1960) inspired thrillers Paranoiac (1963) and Nightmare (1964). The results of allowing Francis his opportunity to work on the Frankenstein series are largely unsatisfying and lacklustre and mark an unfortunate break in the continuity set up in the first two films.
The Celluloid Highway's 50th Film Review.
© Shaun Anderson 2010