Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Frankenstein 1970 (1958)

Another obscure Frankenstein flick, the reference to 1970 in the title is simply there to give it a vaguely futuristic feel.  True, it is meant to be set in some vaguely defined near future, but Frankenstein 1970 looks like it is actually set in 1958.  The most notable thing about the film is the fact that it casts Karloff as Frankenstein rather than his monster.  (A modern day descendent of the Baron, who has been left horribly scarred by the Nazis, rather than the Baron himself).  Other than that, it is another cheap exploitation item from Allied Artists.  The futuristic aspect of the plot is Frankenstein's ambition to install a nuclear reactor in his laboratory as part of his scheme to create a new monster.  He pays for it by leasing out his castle to a film crew who are shooting a horror picture about his ancestor's monster making antics.  (The scariest looking part of the trailer, with the girl being chased by a large handed creature is actually part of this film-within-a-film).  Inevitably, various members of the crew go missing, destined to provide spare parts for Karloff's monster.

The monster itself looks like someone who has been mummified whilst wearing a bucket on their head.  It eventually turns on Karloff and they both perish in a blast of radioactive steam from the reactor.  After which, the monster's face is unbandaged to reveal the face of Karloff, but younger and unscarred: the scientist had made his creature in his own image.  Despite floating some interesting ideas: Frankenstein as a victim of the Nazis, who nonetheless carries out his own experiments on human victims, which are the equal of anything conducted in the concentration camps, for instance, but ultimately makes nothing of them.  In fact, the plot seems to be check list of fifties schlock movie traits: Nazis, radioactivity as the agent for creating monsters, people shooting movies in old castles (a trope which also turns up in several Italian horror movies).  Reputedly shot in only eight days on sets left over from another movie, Frankenstein 1970 is another of those films which has become next to impossible to see.  I've never seen it in its entirety and I don't recall it ever showing on UK TV.   I'd like to catch up with it, if nothing else because I'm something of a completist when it comes to both Frankenstein films and Boris Karloff.



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