When it came to making the third sequel in its iconic and obviously successful Frankenstein series, Hammer Film Productions and director Terence Fisher came upon an idea that seems, on surface level, very likable. Rather than have returning Victor Frankenstein Peter Cushing create yet another undead jigsaw monstrosity in his attempt to conquer death in corporeal form, this time he chooses to focus on the incorporeal.
So, Frankenstein Created Woman gets points for originality in it’s pro/antagonist’s preoccupation with trapping, controlling and transferring a soul between the recently deceased. It also gets points on the ground level before the film even begins by Cushing’s presence in the role of Baron Frankenstein. As ever Cushing rises above and elevates the film around him, delivering once again a Frankenstein that’s unlikely to ever be beaten.
As implied by that last sentence, and much like Hammer’s Rasputin, the Mad Monk, the film utterly fails to support its central character. There’s no denying that the opening guillotine sequence is very compelling, but the moment that blade drops the film fails to know what to do with itself; it’s like the script just stands there, scratching its head and half starting ideas before deciding it wants to try a different approach. That guillotine opening has more drama, story, character and intrigue than the rest of the film combined. The remainder of the film meanders through a very weird (and not in a good way) small town drama. Frankenstein’s machinations feel like a sub-plot, and while the idea of a murderous soul transfer sounds an enjoyable concept, it can’t turn that concept into much of a story. Frankenstein’s creation is deliberately a visual opposite of the series’ previous monsters, but that’s no excuse for it to be utterly nonthreatening.
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