I think I was in high school the first time I encountered Hammer’s Frankenstein films that starred Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein. I forget how many of them I saw, but I know I saw Frankenstein Created Woman and the memory of that film had dwelled in the back of my brain ever since. So, some months back, when I got the chance to own the film on blu-ray (courtesy of Scream! Factory) I took it, and just the other day I finally had the chance to watch this film again.
Before I get to my thoughts on Frankenstein Created Woman, a quick overview as to what this film is. Hammer released seven Frankenstein films between 1957 and 1974, and this was the fourth film in that series. In Frankenstein Created Woman, the story focuses more on the metaphysical, as Baron Frankenstein is now obsessed with capturing and transferring a human soul from one body to another. He gets his chance when Hans (Robert Morris) is executed for a crime he didn’t commit and his lover Christina (Susan Denberg) commits suicide by drowning shortly thereafter. At first Frankenstein’s work appears to be a total success, but even a brilliant man like Frankenstein can’t realize the dangers involved in placing Hans’ soul in Christina’s body until it’s far too late.
It’s funny to me now, but while I was watching Frankenstein Created Woman, it occurred to me that my memory must not be as good as I thought (I usually have a good head for remembering movies) because except for the ending most of this film felt completely new to me. That’s not a bad thing, but it makes me wonder if perhaps I saw a different cut all those years ago, I’ve heard of things like that being done with Hammer films before, so maybe that’s why some of the scenes felt completely new to me.
A lack of memory aside, I really enjoyed Frankenstein Created Woman as much as I thought I would. Its message is a little heavy-handed (i.e. don’t put a vengeful soul inside a new body because there will be dire consequences) but overall it is a lot of fun to watch. Cushing’s Frankenstein is almost hilariously oblivious to the fact that he’s helped create this beautiful woman. To him Christina is only an experiment, but to everyone else she is pure woman, and it’s only at the very end of the film that the full extent of her monstrousness is revealed.
I really do like how the film goes about revealing what the human soul might look like outside of its body. I don’t quite agree with the explanation the film goes for as to how a soul could be trapped and contained but the visual of this glowing ball of light representing the soul is quite beautiful and is one of my favorite shots in the film.
There’s also an interesting lesson to be gleaned from this film, that being that it is dangerous to tamper with something as powerful as the human soul. Of course it is, as I said before, presented in a rather forceful manner, but it’s still a good point to be made. One can’t mess with the human soul in a purely scientific manner as Frankenstein attempts to do, that won’t work any more than building and animating a body from scratch will, as Frankenstein learns by the end. Additionally, there’s an equally poignant lesson about the injustice of condemning someone simply because their father was a criminal.
I would still probably recommend starting with The Curse of Frankenstein if you’re going to watch the Hammer Frankenstein films, but be sure to watch Frankenstein Created Woman not long after, because it’s really good.
Let me know what you think about Frankenstein Created Woman in the comments below and have a great day!
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