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Frankenstein Must be Destroyed (1969)


Victor Frankenstein has to desert his secret laboratory when it is discovered by a burglar breaking into his house. While the police begin their investigations Frankenstein finds new lab space in the boarding house of Anna Spengler, a young landlady. Anna's fiancé, Dr. Carl Holst works in an asylum, where he regularly steals cocaine for Anna's sick mother. By chance Frankenstein discovers the cocaine and blackmails Carl and Anna: Carl is forced to assist him in his experiments and Anna has to evict all other guests at her house.
One night Frankenstein and Carl break into the asylum to steal surgical instruments. They are surprised by the night guard, whom Carl accidentally kills. Frankenstein then reveals his true identity to Carl and tells him his latest plan: He wants to kidnap Dr. Brand, a mad, yet brilliant scientist, from the asylum in order to get Brand's knowledge about freezing brains. Frankenstein needs this to achieve his latest goal: the preservation of the brains and knowledge of geniuses. During the kidnapping Brand suffers a heart attack leaving him at the verge of death. To save his brain, Frankenstein kidnaps Dr. Richter, a psychiatrist at the asylum, and transplants Brand's brain into his head. 
Before the police are able to discover the lab and Brand's body, Frankenstein flees with Carl, Anna and his latest creation. Dr. Brand awakes too early after surgery and, much to his horror, finds that his mirror image is actually that of Dr. Richter. During a fight with the frightened Anna the desperate Monster/Brand/Richter is badly injured, but manages to flee to his wife's house. Meanwhile Frankenstein kills Anna for hurting Dr. Brand and later confronts Brand at his home. Obsessed by the wish for revenge on Frankenstein, the Monster sets the house on fire and drags the villainous Baron into the collapsing burning building.

Back for no good:
Peter Cushing as Victor Frankenstein


Frankenstein and Carl (Simon Ward) fix Richter's (Freddie Jones) head 
The very first scene of Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, in which Frankenstein murders Dr. Heidecke, leaves no doubt about to what extent the development of the Baron's character has come. The film presents him as a totally irredeemable and ruthless scientist. Never before has he been such an appalling and negative character. His total obsession with his work has resulted in a complete loss of moral standards. To him the loss of a human life means nothing as long as it contributes to the success of his experiments. Even in the face of death, when he is trapped in the burning house, Frankenstein only worries about the formula he wants from Brand.

And Frankenstein does not care a lot about those who assist him, either. Both Carl and Anna are only accessories to him, tools and instruments he uses and disposes of when he sees it fit. Their involvement with him is their ultimate undoing. When Frankenstein blackmails Carl it is only the beginning of his downfall. Later Frankenstein involves him in murder and makes him his unwilling, yet fascinated accomplice. 


She drives Frankenstein crazy: Veronica Carlson as Anna
However, it is Frankenstein's involvement with Anna, that contributes most to the extremely negative image of the Baron in this movie. One night he intrudes into her room and brutally rapes her. Later, Frankenstein loses his temper again when he cold-bloodedly kills Anna just for wounding his precious creation. (Of course, it should be noted that the rape scene was not in the original screenplay. It was added in post production due to interference of producer James Carreras, who insisted on the scene despite Fisher and Cushing objecting against it. In fact, the rape is a distraction from the usual image people have of Cushing's Frankenstein: that of a ruthless, yet cool and always controlled monomaniac. This is actually the only occassion he has given in to any sexual urges.)

On the other hand Frankenstein can also be polite and gentlemen-like, as shown in the scene where he introduces himself to Anna. He also manages to appear as very convincing and understanding, especially in the scene where he comforts Dr. Brand's wife, which of course is only to conceal his ruthlessness and arrogance. 
When Frankenstein is finally destroyed by his own creation, the movie return to its literary source and Frankenstein receives the ultimate punishment for his transgression and crimes.

But Frankenstein's death at the hands of the Monster is not the only parallel with the original novel. Unlike in most other films this time the Monster is not a brutish creature, that kills for no apparent reason. Dr. Brand, the Monster, is a rationally thinking being, who is fully aware of his misery, as he tells his wife: "I have become the victim of everything that Frankenstein and I ever advocated." He talks and acts like a human being and apart from a scar on his head he has no visible features of a monster. Like Karl and Anna he is a victim of the remorseless Frankenstein. He is left unable to live in another man's body and unable to relate to his beloved wife, who can't accept the monstrosity her husband has become. This interesting concept gives this film more depth than the usual Hammer horror, but unfortunately is not given enough time to develop and to be explored.           
  Into the fiery pit: Dr. Brand/Richter, the Monster

Many fans and critics rank Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed as the best in Hammer's Frankenstein series. Beautiful cinematography, a well-crafted screenplay and director Fisher's sense for a constant atmosphere of tension guarantee above-average gothic horror. Some of the scenes - in particular the opening sequence with the burglar, and the scene, where the water pipe bursts revealing a buried body - show Fisher's masterful editing and direction. Additionally, the film also caters to the audience's increased demand for sex and violence: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed features more explicit images of blood and body parts and Veronica Carlson's Anna gets more than one chance to display her sexuality.


Click above to watch the original trailer in full color on youtube.com


Cast & Crew:  
Victor Frankenstein Peter Cushing
Anna Veronica Carlson
Dr. Richter Freddie Jones
Carl Holst Simon Ward
Dr. Brand George Pravda
Inspector Thorley Walters
Screenplay Anthony Nelson-Keys
Bert Batt
Music James Bernard
Cinematography Arthur Grant
Producer Anthony Nelson Keys
Director Terence Fisher

© 2003 Andreas Rohrmoser

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