Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
This time Baron Frankenstein is concerned with preserving the souls of recently deceased in a force-field
in order to transfer them into other bodies later.
The film begins with Victor Frankenstein getting involved in a dangerous self experiment. After
lying dead for one hour he is revived again by his youthful assistant Hans and the elderly, somewhat cranky Dr. Hertz. Hans is sent to an inn to buy champagne to celebrate the successful experiment. There he starts a fight with three young
men who make fun of his girl friend Christina, the facially disfigured daughter of the innkeeper. While Christina and Hans spend the night together, the three revengeful men break into the inn and beat Christina's father to death. The next day Hans is arrested for killing the innkeeper. In the following trial he is wrongly sentenced to death because he
refuses to tell anybody that he was with Christina in that fatal night. Christina returns to town just in time to
witness Hans' execution; having nothing left to live for, she drowns herself. Frankenstein, who
manages to get hold of both Hans' and Christina's bodies, captures the young man's soul
and transplants it into
the girl's body. He then surgically removes her facial disfigurement and reanimates her. Christina, whose
slowly taken over by Hans' spirit, begins to remember her past and sets out to avenge
Hans' death. One after one she seeks out her father's murderers, seduces them and kills them. In
the final scene Christina holds up Hans' head, which she has taken from the grave, and
addresses it speaking in Hans' voice, "You did what you had to do, Christina.
You may rest now - in peace." Consequently, Christina drowns herself in a river
and dies a second time. Baron Frankenstein, unable to stop her, simply walks
movie poster for Frankenstein Created Woman
Directed by Terence Fisher, this
film marked a return to Hammer's original concept of Baron Frankenstein. Once again the Baron is the inhumane, cold
and emotionless scientist whose sole obsession is his work and his experiments. Testifying before the court is
obviously a nuisance to the Baron, and he makes no attempt to save his young assistant. To him Hans' death is a
unique opportunity to continue his experiments. Frankenstein does not care whether Hans would like his soul to
be kept alive or not. He also forces Dr. Hertz to blackmail the jail-keeper in order to get Hans'
body and treats his creation Christina more like his possession than a human being.
Of course, the movie focuses more on Christina than on Cushing's Baron,
leaving him more like an observer who does not really comprehend what is
happening to his creature. However, the film frequently also shows us a different, more sympathetic Baron,
in particular when he desperately tries to prevent Christina from taking her own
life at the movie's climax. But this new-found humane streak in the Baron is
only short-lived, when he leaves the scene of Christina's death,
probably to continue his experiments.
Dr. Hertz (Thorley Walters) and the Baron (Peter
Baron Frankenstein at work in his laboratory
| Christina's role is not only that of the Monster - in fact she is more beautiful after the reanimation and due to her disfigured face she looked more like a Monster before her death.
The audience also can build more sympathy for
Christina than for Frankenstein's previous creations, not just because she looks
so perfect, but also because of her tragic background.
The fact that Christina unites both male and female in her soul and body
actually makes her a kind of hermaphrodite or androgynous being. When she talks with a male voice to Hans' head
and the head answers with a female voice, all separations - sexual, physical and spiritual - are
removed and Christina becomes a personal union of two human beings, where it is
no longer clear which part is male and which is woman. The consequence can only
|Christina, who is the only female Monster
in Hammer's Frankenstein series, is also his most perfect
creation, unlike her brute male counterparts in Hammer's other Frankenstein
movies. Still it is interesting to note that she only achieves this female
perfection when she is given the soul of a man, while before, although fully
female, she was scarred and incomplete, the object of mockery and
But Christina also
symbolises the destructive power of sexuality, a typical feature of the horror genre. In order to get
hold of her victims Christina uses her sexual attractiveness (she was played by
Austrian Playboy playmate Susan Denberg) to seduce them. This implies that these men would still be alive had they not given in to their sexual
urges, a motif which is continued in modern "slasher films" like Halloween or
Friday the 13th, where teenagers are usually killed off after having sex.
Typically, the Monster/killer becomes the punisher of those who transgress the borders of
bourgeois morale. The three dandies are the movie's true villains - they
killed the innkeeper and framed Hans for his death - and their ultimate
sin is to give in to their sexual urges, a weakness that finally costs
them their lives.
The Monster (Susan Denberg) at work outdoors...
She'd rather take head than give it...
Frankenstein Created Woman remains to be the favorite Hammer Frankenstein
among film critics, primarily because of its almost metaphysical approach and
its concern with topics such as the existence of the soul and gender switch. In
1987 director Martin Scorsese picked it as part of a series of his
favorite films shown at the NFT. A long-time Hammer fan, Scorsese stated,
"If I single this one out it's because here they actually isolate the
soul. The implied metaphysics are close to something sublime." 2
Created Woman is a moody example of gothic horror with excellent set pieces,
great performances, especially from Cushing and Playboy model Susan Denberg,
(who sadly made no more films after this one), and a beautifully crafted,
Two sexy, yet misleading publicity shots that actually have nothing to do with
the movie but drew a lot of attention, obviously due to the bikini-clad Susan
The motif was also used for the Italian movie poster.
Cast & Crew:
||Anthony Nelson Keys
cf. Stresau, Norbert, Der Horrorfilm (Munich: Wilhelm Heyne
Verlag, 1987) p.134
2 Cf. M. Hearn & A. Barnes, The
Hammer Story, (London: Titan Books, 1997) p.111