Terence Fisher’s Frankenstein Created Woman is surprisingly varied for a horror film; in fact, its horror elements are held until the very end. Fisher is more interested in the metaphysical elements of Frankenstein’s (Peter Cushing) creations in this outing in the Hammer Frankenstein franchise, notably the existence of the soul and what that means when attempting to preserve it to place in another “container” (the human body). Not only does Frankenstein Created Woman have a more lighthearted approach, it also dives into different subgenres along the way: romantic exploits between its main characters Hans (Robert Morris) and Christina (Susan Denberg), a riveting 19th century court case, and a buddy romp between Cushing’s Frankenstein and his skilled surgeon friend Dr. Hertz (Thorley Walters). Despite its slow pace, it makes for an electrifying time.
Part of that is because Cushing is on top of his game throughout the film. He gets a limited amount of screentime despite being part of the film’s namesake, but when he is featured his pomposity and aloofness are extremely pleasing. It helps that Walters’ Dr. Hertz plays his drunken assistant, a man so out of touch with the reality around him that his frazzled demeanor makes a fine foil to Frankenstein’s extremely focused personality. Add to these successes three disturbingly believable rich snobs who seem to have partly inspired the Droogs from A Clockwork Orange; their every appearance makes the audience cringe and want to kick their teeth in, especially as they taunt scarred Christina nearly to insanity. It’s all a recipe for one of Fisher’s better works in the Hammer oeuvre even though it really doesn’t get to its main topic of discourse, creating a woman, until the final third of the movie.
Once that occurs, though, Frankenstein Created Woman really tests the waters of how willing the audience is to follow Fisher through a surprisingly complicated series of events – the aforementioned court case trying Hans because of “sins of the father,” Hertz and Frankenstein creating a special invincibility shield that keeps the soul intact while a vessel is prepared, and the final sex change/soul insertion operation that changes Christina from a beautiful but scarred brunette to a voluptuous blonde with the vengeful soul of Hans within her. It’s crazy but well-directed, and the last few scenes of revenge are effective because they don’t show the full violence. As I said, Frankenstein Created Woman isn’t truly a horror movie; it’s more about the essence of love between two souls, and well-deserved rest for those spirits.
Even if you’re looking for a suspenseful horror film, Frankenstein Created Woman delivers enough atmosphere – creepy labs, thunderstorms – to make up for the lack of traditional horror plotting. In fact, this one makes better use of its slow dramatic pacing than something like Dracula: Prince of Darkness; at least here, Fisher gets a chance at exploring some of his experiments. For fans of Cushing, Frankenstein, or Hammer films in general, Frankenstein Created Woman is truly a monstrous mashup of plot elements that come together quite well thanks to good direction and a great cast.
Scream Factory has released Frankenstein Created Woman as part of their Collector’s Edition series with a new 2k scan of the original film elements. Previously, the film had a release on Blu-ray from Millennium that quickly went out of print; however, viewing screenshots of that prior release, I can safely say that Scream Factory has done a much better job with this new transfer that is noticeably better than the past picture quality. The new transfer is vibrant, lush, with a brighter output that gets rid of the muddy textures from the past Blu-ray. Depth and detail is very good, grain is kept to a minimum but still present throughout, and despite a couple spots of damage and some lines, the picture is quite clean. It also presents in the film’s original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Ultimately Frankenstein Created Woman hasn’t looked this good on Blu-ray and I’m very impressed with this presentation.
The audio is a DTS-HD MA mono track. Occasionally there is some muffled dialogue and noticeably the opening production themes are scratchy and thin, but other than that the track sounds pretty good. Nothing stands out too much with the soundtrack, but no problems either. English subtitles are also included.
Extras have mostly been ported over from the previous release and other Hammer films Scream has worked on, but there are a couple of new features. One is a new interview with Robert Morris (Hans) that runs about 13 minutes. He talks about a number of things but one that stood out to me was his comment about having to place his arm over Denberg’s nipple so viewers couldn’t see it – there was a strict nudity restriction for this. Another new interview is with clapper and camera assistant Eddie Collins (with short inserts with assistant director Joe Marks), lasting about 11 minutes; he talks about his role on set as the clapper and running to get everyone tea, as well as giving some insight into the shooting schedule for the film. Also, a new audio commentary with film historians Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr provides some interesting backstory about the film as well as diving into Fisher’s themes – and they also compare to Dracula: Prince of Darkness, on which they also contributed a commentary.
The “Hammer Glamour” featurette spends 45 minutes on the women of Hammer and was also included on The Witches. Two World of Hammer features are added as well – one on Peter Cushing specifically, and one on The Curse of Frankenstein. Also available are theatrical trailers, TV spots, a still image gallery, poster and lobby cards, and radio spots. This does also come with reversible cover artwork.
Overall this is a great release from Scream Factory that improves on the previous transfer considerably along with providing a number of features both new and old. If you’re a fan of Hammer film, get this release.
Overall this is a great release from Scream Factory that improves on the previous transfer considerably along with providing a number of features both new and old. If you're a fan of Hammer film, get this release.