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Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974) - Blu-ray Review

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Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)

In what might be one of the most exploitative openings in Hammer’s 1970 era, we see a grave robber (Doctor Who's Patrick Troughton) struggle mightily with a corpse in a grave and, after a police officer falls in the now-empty grave, we see a jar of gooey, squishy eyeballs (looking very realistic) get spilled on the floor.  A close-up of the stickiness - as people step on them - reveals that, yes, times have changed and Hammer, which brought back the Old Guard (Fisher, Hinds, Cushing) for this release, is up to the challenge . . . 

"remains a killer statement of cinematic Gothic Horror"


 

. . . but that’s not what happened.  With money drying up and no American investment, Hammer - the little studio that could - was looking for anything to stop the bleeding.  Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell might be a solid thriller and hit all the right notes, but it would also be the film that closed the chapter on Hammer’s ode to Gothic Horror itself, as Frankenstein falls into Hell itself.  Moral ambiguity be damned!

Skeletons! Eyeballs!  Grave robbing! Oh my!  Simon Helder (Shane Briant) might be guilty of sorcery, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to create life inside a home for the criminally insane in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell.  But how?!  

It turns out that Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) is alive and well - surviving the fire that supposedly burned him to a crisp in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed - and residing as a surgeon in the very same insane asylum that Helder is sentenced to.  What could possibly go wrong?  Well, just ask Darth Vader’s David Prowse who returns in the role of Frankenstein’s monster as his furry, ape-like depiction dominates every scene he’s in.  

Directed by Terence Fisher (which would be his final film) and written by John Elder, the sixth film in the Cushing-helmed Frankenstein is a thrilling and rather quick-witted tale of two mad scientists who go toe-to-toe when their philosophies on reanimating the dead continuously butt heads.  It seems Helder has no problem with taking body parts from the dead, but draws the line at killing people for body parts . . . which the Baron actively engages in.  Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)

The Monster must be made perfect, after all.  Except it never is, right?  Equipped with the elegant hands of a sculptor (Bernard Lee), the monstrous body of Herr Schneider (Prowse) is brought back to life thanks to the Baron, Simon, and the beautiful, but mute Sarah (Madeline Smith), who does the precise stitching to the skin of the monster.  

And in the wake of Schneider’s rise, all Hell breaks loose for the inmates in the asylum.  With a killer on the loose, Helder must decide if his ambitions are worth all the killing that follows in the monster’s footsteps.  And then there’s Adolf Klauss, the asylum's twisted director (John Stratton), who must be dealt with, too.  Hell doesn’t feel too far away in this asylum!

Released in the wake of The Exorcist, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell never stood a chance at being a box office draw, but the horror film remains a killer statement of cinematic Gothic Horror thanks to the journey Simon goes on in the asylum, some seriously GREAT performances - just look at Patrick Troughton’s performance as a body snatcher at the beginning of the movie for immediate proof - and a dedication to some solid black comedy.

Over the top and fun on all levels, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is now on blu-ray thanks to Scream Factory.

4/5 beers

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- August 18, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Is Baron Frankenstein truly dead? That's precisely what he wants the world to think. He's had it up to here with a public that doesn't appreciate the trouble a mad scientist goes through to snatch good body parts. To carry on his work, he holes up in a place where the possibilities are utterly maddening: a home for the criminally insane! A hand here. A brain there ... true to form, the Baron (Peter Cushing) keeps his gruesome creation (David Prowse, known for his portrayal of Darth Vader) in stitches in this sixth and final fright fest in Hammer Films' Frankenstein cycle.  

Video:

Scream Factory presents Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell with a clean 1080p transfer with a few impressive results.  First, there’s no denying that this film, wiped clean of dirt and debris, has never looked better. Colors are bold and dynamic and that fake blood is more obvious than ever.  That being said, there are a few problems with shading as most of the blacks bleed into other colors more often than they should. Obviously, there are some issues with the original film stock and while the sets are glorious under the restoration, it is more than obvious details aren’t exactly being picked up like one might expect.  None of that can be helped, though, due to the budget of the time. 

Audio:

A crisp DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track provides the sound for the resurrection of Frankenstein.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There are two commentaries included with Shout Factory’s release of the sixth and final Cushing-led Frankenstein movie from Hammer Studios.

Special Features:

Fans are going to dig the new commentary and the new supplemental item which showcases the talent behind the scenes at Hammer.

  • NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian/Author Steve Haberman And Film Historian/Filmmaker Constantine Nasr
  • NEW The Men Who Made Hammer: Roy Skeggs
  • Audio Commentary With Actress Madeline Smith, Actor David Prowse, And Film Historian Jonathan Sothcott
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Radio Spots

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

3.5/5 stars

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
93 mins
Director
: Terence Fisher
Writer:
Anthony Hinds
Cast:
Peter Cushing, Shane Briant, Madeline Smith
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Your blood will run cold when the monster rises.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Now, in approximately one hour, when the narcosis wears off... we shall see."
Theatrical Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 1974
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
August 18, 2020.
Synopsis: Is Baron Frankenstein truly dead? That's precisely what he wants the world to think. He's had it up to here with a public that doesn't appreciate the trouble a mad scientist goes through to snatch good body parts. To carry on his work, he holes up in a place where the possibilities are utterly maddening: a home for the criminally insane! A hand here. A brain there ... true to form, the Baron (Peter Cushing) keeps his gruesome creation (David Prowse, known for his portrayal of Darth Vader) in stitches in this sixth and final fright fest in Hammer Films' Frankenstein cycle.

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)

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