Although To the Devil - A Daughter (1976) officially marked the end of Hammer’s first cycle of horror film production, it is Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, made two years before, that has the more genuine feel of a concluding statement. It was the final example of Hammer’s archetypal brand of gothic Victoriana (though Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires  would transplant these trappings to an East Asian milieu later the same year), it was also the final film directed by the legendary Terence Fisher, who was one of the key architects of Hammer’s distinctive visual style, and it features the final adventure of one of the companies most enduring characters; Baron Frankenstein. But the film also has an ambience and an attitude of finality. It possesses a pitch black streak of cynicism, and indeed an equally bleak sense of humour. Frankenstein might conclude the film making positive pronouncements about embarking on his next experiment, but this is unable to disguise the ultimate pointlessness of the Baron’s endeavours. In each of the Baron’s previous adventures he found himself increasingly marginalised - by society, politics, and the scientific community. It seems somewhat fitting then at the end that we find him operating out of an insane asylum. His previous status as inmate is soon forgotten, and with the asylum director firmly blackmailed into submission, the Baron is able to continue his experiments using the incarcerated human fodder at his disposal.
© Shaun Anderson 2012