I’m not quite sure how this film’s title makes any sense, although perhaps Frankenstein achieves revenge by living, I guess? Cleverly escaping being executed for his horrible crimes and for creating a monster that killed people in the first installment, the good Baron takes up a new practice in England. The local doctors are jealous of his talents, so Frankenstein must plan ahead and try to remain a step up above the usual people hounding him, and of course the authorities too. Hans, a long doctor (played by Francis Matthews) figures out who the Baron is and forces him to become his mentor. I actually like Peter Cushing best in this installment, as he expertly goes from being kind to his typical madman, a doctor who treats the poor but is also using them as parts for his experiments. What Frankenstein achieves this time is taking a hunchback, Karl-who helped Frankenstein escape-and transform him into a normal man by transplanting his brain. The experiment is a success, and yet the new Karl (Michael Gwynn) refuses to go along with the main plan, with disastrous consequences.
What surprised me is that this film is equal to the first installment, and that Fisher manages to equal his previous grand achievement, giving birth to a sequel that is one of the best sequels ever made in my opinion. Revenge is creepy, thrilling, and rather dark, as poor Karl becomes a tragic figure damned by man and by the Baron, cheated out of a happy life. In a way he is even more pitiful than the famous creature that Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff previously embodied, for he is a normal looking man and yet due to circumstances beyond his control his life is ruined. The Baron never looks back or shows remorse, and this is aptly showcased in The Revenge of Frankenstein.
How the film ends I will not reveal, but I will say that with this installment Frankenstein becomes something akin to a slasher villain: its not possible to defeat him, even with the authorities in hot pursuit. The final shot is rather chilling, and this film has all the grace marks of a good Fisher Hammer Studios movie. So far I have not viewed any other movies that come close to matching Revenge or Curse of Frankenstein, and I doubt I will. They have style and elegance, proper intelligence and excellent pacing.
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