Hammer’s fourth Frankenstein adventure is a significant improvement over the previous entry - the lacklustre and feeble The Evil of Frankenstein (1964). One possible reason for the shabbiness of that film might be the insipid and blatantly imitative direction of Freddie Francis. Without a doubt Francis was an accomplished cinematographer, but his skills as a director were less impressive. Fortunately for Frankenstein Created Woman (one of the silliest and most inappropriate titles for a film) Terence Fisher was invited back to the series. It had been nine years since Fisher had last had the pleasure of the Baron’s company, and his comfort with the material is obvious from the assured confidence of the direction and his eye for striking visual compositions. This is despite the fact that Fisher is working with, by the standards of Hammer, an incredibly offbeat and outlandish screenplay courtesy of Anthony Hinds. Hinds implements a number of important changes that make this an altogether unique entry in the series.
Christina represents both the power of female sexuality and the brutal violence of masculine vengeance. In all reality Frankenstein’s decision to transplant Hans soul into her body was not his most intelligent moment! The final third of the film has a set piece structure as Christina eliminates the trio of toffs responsible for all the turmoil. But despite these moments of violence the film comes across more as a tragic gothic romance than horror, and the Baron’s experimentations with cryogenics, force fields and the human soul makes this easily the most science-fictional of Hammer’s Frankenstein films. There are some wonderfully entertaining moments here; the opening shot of the guillotine and the execution of Hans father, the three aristocrats light up the film every time their malicious faces sneer into view, and Peter Cushing is typically excellent, though admittedly he his able to shine due to the bumbling ineptitude of the idiotic Thorley Walters. But by placing the dramatic weight with the two members of the cast who cannot act the film falls down. This is a very protracted and talky film, but the intriguing concepts at the heart of Frankenstein Created Woman make it a passable distraction and something of a semi return to form after the misstep of The Evil of Frankenstein.
© Shaun Anderson 2011