Curse of Frankenstein (1958)
Directed by Terence Fisher

Starring Christopher Lee Hazel Court Peter Cushing Robert Urquhart

Among the first color horror movies of its kind, "Curse of Frankenstein" isn't the best in what would become a series of Peter Cushing Frankeinstein films for Britain''s Hammer Studios. But it also ain't the worst.

Although its script is a little flat, Cushing delivers an amazing and subtle performance as the manipulative Baron Frankenstein. Christopher Lee, meanwhile, plays the monster. Cushing's Victor Frankenstein inherits a fortune after the death of his father and befriends his tutor, sent to school him in the art of medicine. Of course, the two of them start experimenting with reviving the dead.

After re-animating a puppy, Frankenstein decides not to reveal his discovery to the world. Instead, he wants to create a living being on his own. He murders a professor in the hopes of getting the perfect brain for his patchwork monster. Of course, the brain becomes damaged and the creature (portrayed with a certain amount of compassion by Lee) can do little more than strangle people. He's not as sympathetic a character as the Boris Karloff Frankenstein, nor as angry and bent on revenge as the monster portrayed in Mary Shelley's novel. But he's OK as far as monsters go.

The atmosphere is great, but the story is delivered with very little suspense. Still, the importance of this film can't be understated. Prior to this, horror films were generally black-and-white, tame and usually came from Hollywood. Hammer's "Curse of Frankenstein" and its companion film "Horror of Dracula" set the stage for a European horror rennaissance and the entire Euro-trash movement of the 1970s.

It was followed the same year by an even better sequel.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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