The Evil of Frankenstein is the third film in Hammer’s Frankenstein series and the worst one to date. It can also lay claim to being one of the worst movies that Hammer has ever put out as well. There is little to love in this movie which essentially negates or simply forgets that there were two previous movies before it. Making matters just a little bit worse was the fact that the previous film left the audience with a soft cliff-hanger, almost promising that we would see the Baron again at some point. And so we did, but instead of continuing the adventures and the horror perpetuated by the man we have been following, we instead get this film which heads in an entirely different direction. Whatever possessed Hammer or the producers to go ahead with this film should truly be questioned as it was a waste of time, money and talent. This was a hard pill to swallow after two really well-done films and it was strange indeed to see the studio take a step backward instead of moving forward.
Where The Revenge of Frankenstein ended with the Baron cheating death and having his brain replanted into his own creation to start anew, this film sees him on the run back to his ancestral home. It was almost as if writer John Elder (Anthony Hinds) knew what the producers were doing with the film and decided to write it into the movie. Without money or possessions, Victor decides to stay on, and when he finds his creature frozen in the ice, he decides to revive it along with more trouble than he bargained for.
If it were to stand alone, the film is not all bad as there are some things to like about it, Peter Cushing’s performance for one. Cushing always delivers, even on a bad day and this film is no exception. Victor is portrayed quite well, though it would have been far preferable to see him as he was previously. Here he is not quite so confidant, even a little vulnerable at times which was quite different to see, though the madness that is within him still manages to show itself a few times. Peter Woodthorpe was fairly villainous as Zoltan the hypnotist and Katy Wild, who had no lines, did a very good job as the beggar, Rena. Playing the role of the creature this time around would be a man named Kiwi Kingston, though, for all of the makeup, it could have literally been anybody.
It is the creature, not to mention the storyline itself, which is one of the worst things about the movie. Lifting the idea directly from Universal’s franchise, this creature looks quite similar to the one first portrayed by Karloff, though much worse, almost like the makeup had not been finished. It would have been far preferable if Hammer had gone a more original route as they did with The Curse of Frankenstein whose monster was a shambles of a man who looked like surgery gone wrong, or even the second film where the monster itself had advanced to look more human as Victor’s skills progressed. Instead what was presented was just a poor copy of something previously done much better. What was also a little unforgivable was the rehash of ideas from Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. Hammer had done a great job up to this point by going in a different direction with their Dracula and Frankenstein films, and seeing this was not something that would have been expected from the studio.
If taken by itself, not having seen any of Universal’s films about the monster, or not having viewed the previous films of this particular series, the film is ultimately a good little horror movie. But such as it is, it is just a pale reflection of what has come before. Freddie Francis did a good job directing and the players in the film all did a fine job in their respective roles but all in all, it just seemed like a bit of déjà vu, and it would have been much more fulfilling to see something just a bit more original from Hammer, having been spoiled by them before.
2.5 out of 5