31 Days of Halloween — Day 26: Frankenstein 1970 (1958) — by Dr. Shock

Frankenstein1970Editor’s note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast and the Land of the Creeps horror podcast. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.

Frankenstein 1970 marked the first time in 14 years that Boris Karloff appeared in a movie with “Frankenstein” in the title (the last being 1944’s House of Frankenstein, in which he played Doctor Niemann). In fact, it was the last Frankenstein movie he’d ever make, and as I sat watching it, I couldn’t help but wish he had turned the part down.

In need of some quick cash,  (Karloff), a descendant of the man whose reanimation experiments led to disaster 230 years earlier, agrees to allow a film crew to shoot a movie in and around his family’s ancestral home. Directed by Douglas Row (Don ‘Red’ Barry) and starring the lovely Carolyn Hayes (Jana Lund), the film in production is (naturally) a horror flick, but the true terror lies hidden underground in the Baron’s secret laboratory. With the money he’s getting, Baron Frankenstein intends to buy an atomic reactor, which he believes will allow him to succeed where his ancestor failed. Yes, Baron Victor Frankenstein is trying to reanimate a dead body he assembled from scratch. And if he finds himself in need of an extra body part, he can always harvest it from the production crew living in his house!

Frankenstein 1970 is a bad film, but a few rays of sunshine do peak through from time to time. The opening sequence, for example, where a frightened woman runs through a forest to escape a tall, lumbering monster, is exceptionally intense (alas, it’s also a cheat: the chase is actually a scene from the movie being shot on Frankenstein’s land; soon after the monster corners the girl in a swamp, we hear the director yell “cut!”). The set pieces are also impressive (though released by Allied Artists, Frankenstein 1970 was shot on the Warner Bros. backlot), and a monologue delivered by Karloff, where he recounts the checkered history of the Frankenstein family, proved that the horror icon still had the ability to rise above sub-par material.

Unfortunately, this would be Karloff’s best scene. Through the rest of the film, he hams it up in a big way, and his flamboyant portrayal is often a distraction (even when his character is sitting down playing a pipe organ, Karloff’s performance feels a bit too over-the-top). The movie itself is also weak, with sequences that last too long (the first time we follow Frankenstein into his basement lair, tagging along as he limps from room to room, feels like it goes on forever) and a few subplots that add nothing to the story; a love triangle between director Row, his leading lady Carolyn, and Row’s current wife, script supervisor Judy Stevens (Charlotte Austin), goes nowhere.

But, in the end, it’s Karloff’s theatrics that stand out, and the fact that this actor who brought such depth to the role of the monster in the 1930’s finished out his Frankenstein run with this mediocre 1958 sci-fi / horror flick is enough to bring a tear to your eye.

—Dr. Shock

—Find Dave’s original post of this review over on DVD Infatuation

Links for Dr. Shock:
Dave’s daily movie review website: DVDInfatuation.com
Follow Dave on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation
Like Dave’s DVD Infatuation now on: Facebook
Dr. Shock also appears on this horror podcast: Land of the Creeps

E-mail: HorrorMoviePodcast@gmail.com
Voicemail: (801) 382-8789
Subscribe to Horror Movie Podcast free in iTunes

3 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 26: Frankenstein 1970 (1958) — by Dr. Shock

  1. 31 Days of Halloween day 26

    59. Pod (**) – I would say that this is the 7th best movie I’ve seen with pods in it but I can’t remember actually seeing a pod.
    60. Crimson Peak (*****) – I was surprised at how smooth Tom Hiddleston’s butt was in this movie.

  2. (Contains spoilers)

    Day 26 – The Mummy’s Curse (1944)

    Released a mere five and a half months after The Mummy’s Ghost, the Kharis series gets wrapped up with The Mummy’s Curse. Unfortunately, it’s the weakest in the series. At the core of the problem is all of the changes that they made from the previous film. It’s not just having errors, but rather having errors that drastically affected many other facets of the film for me. By the time the movie was finished, I began wondering if The Mummy’s Curse didn’t originally connect towards the Kharis series. This feels like a movie that had nothing to do with Kharis, but the script wasn’t being made into a movie, so the filmmakers changed up the script to add Kharis and some other related elements to connect this to the Kharis series.

    Let’s start with the most glaring initial problem. The film takes place entirely in Louisiana since that’s where Kharis and Amina/Ananka were buried in the swamp. Yet, the Mummy’s Ghost took place entirely in Massachusetts. How is it that Kharis ended The Mummy’s Ghost by going into the lake/swamp in Mass, yet woke up in The Mummy’s Curse in a swamp in Louisiana? I’m used to errors in these Universal Monster movies, but how can there be such a major oversight when the last movie just came out a few months before? Then there’s the fact that the events of this movie took place twenty-five years after the events of The Mummy’s Ghost. That means this all happens in the mid 90’s. Obviously, it doesn’t look like the 90’s, but I’m more confused as to why they felt the need to keep jumping into the future so much. Did this really need to be twenty-five years after The Mummy’s Ghost? Would anything have been different had it only been five years?

    This mess continues with Amina/Ananka. It’s as if the script has no idea what they want her to be. Just to quickly remind everyone what happened to her in The Mummy’s Ghost, Amina was a normal college age woman before the soul of the Egyptian princess, Ananka, went into her body. Kharis carried her into a swamp, where she rested for twenty-five long years. When we first see Amina/Ananka, she seems like she’s a mummy. Yet, after she goes through some water, she’s completely cleaned off and looks like an attractive college age woman again. What gives? Either she’s a mummy or she had to have aged by twenty-five years. Half the time Amina/Ananka feels her Ananka soul inside of her and she reveals a great knowledge of the great Egyptian time period. Other times, Amina/Ananka comes across as someone who is up to date with what’s going on in the mid 90’s (heh). What happened to this character that acted as if she was a walking zombie at the beginning of the movie?

    Part of why I think this may have been a non-Kharis script initially is the fact that there’s multiple characters that serve the same role as others. There’s two main bad guys that control Kharis when there isn’t any need for that. It doesn’t make exact sense either. There’s Dr. Zandaab, who came to the swamp location with Dr. Halsey from the Scripps Museum to try and bring the bodies of Kharis and Ananka from the drained swamp. Yet, Zandaab’s follower, Ragheb, is already at the swamp, as one of the workers who is draining it. How did the two even meet up in the first place? That sure was a lucky coincidence that they both worked at important places pertaining to Kharis and they’re connected to Arkam secret society that has looked after Kharis since the beginning of time. There’s two main women in Amina/Ananka and Betty, the secretary for the company working at the swamp. Both women are there solely to be threatened and needing to be saved. I’m not even sure why Betty was even in the movie as she had this whole new relationship with Dr. Halsey, but they nearly ignored this relationship. All we see from this new relationship is Halsey and Betty meeting, the two together driving around, and the final scene where Halsey saves Betty. I don’t care about the relationship since they didn’t dedicated any time to it.

    If I was going to compliment the movie for anything other than the usual fun of seeing Kharis kill off some people, it’s the incredible scene with Amina/Ananka’s rising from the grave and walking for the first time in twenty-five years. It’s a trippy long scene where she has all of these weird movements due to how they filmed the scene. Amina walks like a zombie while being scary and a little unsettling. My enjoyment of this scene only further makes me dislike the rest of the movie. This is the only time when Amina/Ananka is interesting. That interest is thrown out the window when she becomes just a normal woman again for the rest of the movie. The entire reason why I wanted to see this movie was because I thought this was going to be a movie with two mummies – the normal Kharis male mummy and the new Amina/Ananka female mummy. I’ll also give the movie credit for killing a woman when that seemed to never happen in these Universal Monster films either. If a woman dies in a Monster movie, typically she’s a villain. It’s part of what made the ending to The Mummy’s Ghost stand out so much. Then again, that ending no longer means much to me anymore as she came back to life in The Mummy’s Curse and the entire movie is just Kharis trying to get his princess back again.

    Overall, I found The Mummy’s Curse to be a giant disappointment to my rather realistic expectations. The script is a mess. It doesn’t give you what you were wanting to see after The Mummy’s Ghost. All of the errors come off as especially bad due to how quickly this came out after The Mummy’s Ghost. I do think that if you were to watch this, it’s likely far more tolerable if you haven’t seen the previous Kharis movies. If you haven’t seen them then the errors won’t even be noticeable. You won’t know that the movie is set in the mid 90’s, the whole location change of the swamp, and just how poorly written of a character that Amina/Ananka became in this. If you have seen the other Kharis films (Which are far better), the only things you’re going to get out of this is the fun of Kharis killing off the locals and the unique rising of Amina/Ananka from her resting place.

    I’ll give the movie a 3 and a recommendation to just pretend the Kharis series ended with The Mummy’s Ghost.

  3. Day 26: Tales of Halloween
    I liked this movie. I’ll definitely watch it again next October. Often in horror movies the characters will watch a scary movie themselves and most likely they show Night of the Living Dead. Tales of Halloween is no exception. I’d like to have a list of the movies that show clips of Night of the Living Dead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *