The Revenge of Frankenstein
Review by Mike Finkelstein
As we pick up from the end of the last movie, The Curse of Frankenstein, the titular Baron is being lead off to the gallows to be executed for creating the original monster. Seemingly killed on the guillotine, it's soon revealed that the "good" Baron had assistance from his hunchbacked lab tech, Karl, and wasn't killed, instead swapping in a priest for the execution (although how he was able to do this isn't shown). The Baron and Karl then hightail out of the city to find a new place to set up shop.
Of course that means a new place to get up to the kind of scientific horrors that also got him executed before. Starting a medical practice in Carlsbad under the name "Victor Stein" (he's a mad doctor, not a mad con man), the Baron soon gets assistance in his experiments from Dr. Hans Kleve, an inquiring medical student and fan of the Baron. Soon, the two of them are building a new body for the hunchbacked Karl, but only time will tell if this, too, will end in horror and if the Baron will once again have to flee his new life...
Well, okay, this is a Hammer Frankenstein flick so we kind of already know how it's going to turn out. If you've seen one of the Hammer movies in this series, you should already know the formula for this movie: Frankenstein sets up shop someplace new, has a "brilliant" idea for some new scientific creation he can make that will once again prove he can reanimate dead flesh, he congratulates himself on a job well done when the experiment seemingly goes well, only to have it all come crashing down soon there after due to some miscalculation or another.
That's my big issue with the whole of the Hammer Frankenstein series (I say, and so far we're only talking about the first and second movies, not that it gets any better later on) -- Frankenstein is so predictable. Sure, there's a certain novelty to whatever mad science he's come up with this time, but we always know it's going to end in ruin because it always ends in ruin. It has to within 90 minutes because that's how these things go.
Still, when watching any of these movies you can always rely on Peter Cushing. His performance as the Baron is one of steely-eyes resolve on the surface with absolute craziness just underneath. Cushing had a way with playing both totally trustworthy and yet completely mad, and this role always gave him the chance to do both at once.
That said, most of the movie is long stretches of waiting for the mad science, getting bored by side characters. Did you know the Baron is an eligible bachelor? Well, you will soon into this movie, and his fair maiden keeps coming back to be ignored, over and over. Do you care about the machinations of an organization of doctors in Carlsbad? The Baron doesn't, but apparently we're supposed to. Much like the next movie in the series, The Evil of Frankenstein, Revenge is both overstuffed and yet unable to do anything with all the various parts in play. It's a movie that could be half the length and would be so much more enjoyable (if only they'd edit a bunch of shit out).
And that is, of course, the big issue with The Revenge of Frankenstein: it's just boring. Cushing is great, and it's fun to see him play his mad, mad, mad, mad role. Sadly the rest of the movie isn't as good as Cushing and grinds to a halt when he's not around. Do yourself a favor and avoid this one -- only those cinema fans looking to watch all the Hammer Frankenstein movies need to bother with this sequel. Just remember: Frankenstein will always find a way to escape and start over. He can do it, so you don't need to watch this one.