AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL
A body snatcher is disturbed in the eerie darkness of a lone graveyard. Escaping, he delivers his "load" to the laboratory of Dr. Simon Helder and disappears into the back street darkness. As nerve ends and bloody arteries attached to eyeballs float in a beaker of clear liquid, Helder constantly refers to books written by one Baron Frankenstein. Suddenly, the police burst into the room and Helder is arrested. Charged and finally brought to Justice, he is committed to the criminal lunatic asylum at Carlsbad.
On arrival Helder forces his way into the Director of the asylum's office and before he is removed discovers that this was the very place to which Baron Frankenstein had also been committed many years ago. He is assured that Frankenstein is dead.
Brutally tortured by two wardens for the entertainment of the inmates of the asylum, Helder's wounds are attended by The Angel, a pretty young girl, under the supervision of the prison doctor. Helder recognizes the doctor as the brilliantly evil Baron Frankenstein, the man whose work he has been trying to emulate. Confronted, 'Dr. Victor' denies the accusation but allows Helder to become his assistant. The Angel, who is intelligent, but mute, assists the two men in their duties.
Helder soon becomes aware that Dr. Victor's surgery hides something sinister and when one of the inmates dies, an accident at the burial reveals that his hands have been severed. Setting out to uncover the doctor's secret, Helder stumbles on a hidden laboratory, unknown, it seems, to anyone but The Angel.
To his fascination, Helder discovers a cage in a darkly lit corner of the workshop. There he finds a huge, grotesque creature, his body covered in bandages.
Finally Frankenstein reveals his years of work on the inmates of the asylum. The monster should have died when he fell from his cell, but sheer physique kept him alive. Slowly, Frankenstein has been rebuilding the man, obtaining vital organs from the less fortunate inmates who died in the Asylum.
Helder is allowed to carry out operations on the monster for Frankenstein, whose hands have been severely burned, thus making it difficult for him to attend to delicate work.
When a Professor dies at the Asylum, Frankenstein acquires the final need for his monster. The brain. Helder completes the transplant under the guidance of Frankenstein.
Some time later, the monster inexplicably attacks Helder with a broken bottle. The original physical has triumphed over the new mind! During an absence of Frankenstein, the monster escapes and goes on a rampage. He finds himself in the middle of a throng of raving lunatics. He panics, and The Angel, shocked into speech, rushes to his aid. This enrages the lunatics who fear for the life of their Angel. Yelling and screaming they rush at the monster wrenching him apart limb from limb...
Helder and Sarah (The Angel) are helpless, and Frankenstein returns in time to witness the destruction of his creation.
A DAY ON THE SET WITH FRANKENSTEIN
Frankenstein's laboratory is probably the most famous film set in the world...Hammer has made seven Frankenstein films since 1956. All have had worldwide release in cinemas and nearly all have been on television.
Beakers and test tubes full of foaming liquid; large square glass jars containing variously hands, eyes and bloody arteries stand on the work benches. The well known Heath Robinson device known to all horror fans puffs smoke to make the wheels turn thus creating 'electricity'.
In the middle of the set is an operating table, early 19th century style, on which lies the huge hairy body of the Monster. Dave Prowse lies strapped to the table sweating profusely inside his body casing specially made and grotesque monster mask.
Shane Briant, playing Frankenstein's assistant in the film, Doctor Simon Helder, adjusts his small steel spectacles and as if to the manner born slaps the clamps, surgical scissors and scalpels with enormous proficiency into a waiting enamel tray.
Frankenstein, played once more by the inimitable Peter Cushing, bends over the sleeping body of the Monster. He grips an artery in his teeth to prevent the flow of blood while surgeon Helder stitches the new 'hand' to Prowse's arm.
Madeline Smith in the role of Frankenstein's nurse, although an inmate of the lunatic asylum being a mute, daubs ether onto a white pad.
The Monster breathes heavily his great body rising and falling making the old oak table creak under his 15 stone of weight and 6 ft. 7 in. of height.
Eventually the eye is placed in the socket. "Well done" says Frankenstein quietly. "Okay. Cut it" says the director. The "take" is obviously satisfactory. The director is Terence Fisher known to horror fans as The Master of the Macabre. A gentle man in his mid 60's, quietly spoken with laughter lines around his eyes which denote his endless good humor, he has over thirty films to his credit - all of them horrors or thrillers. "That was very nice" he beams through his horn rimmed spectacles, staring at the bloody face and absent-mindedly moving wads of cotton wool drenched in Hammer blood (known to movie makers as "Kensington Gore") to one side.
It is a gruesome day at Elstree studios - one of many gruesome days. Yet the striking overall feeling is of tremendous good humor emphasized by the wise-cracking crew. "Let's get rid of that chicken-and-veal hand. Soon it won't be fit to eat" says one, eyeing the large man-contrived hand about to be sewn onto the monster's arm. It is obvious that Hammer horror making is a fun business.
Talking to Peter Cushing is, as always, an experience in so far as his humanity, charm and humor is ever present. "I always feel so very lucky to be working. (He has made upwards of 11 pictures in eighteen months). After all one has to remember there are many hundreds of talented actors who are sadly out of work today". Could he foresee a time when he would not play Frankenstein? "I sincerely hope not, my dear boy. In fact I keep saying to Hammer they should have a script ready for a "Frankenstein" with me playing the part in a wheelchair".
Fisher thinks the word horror is misapplied. "This is really pure fantasy. For real horror one has only to turn on the television news or witness a motor car accident".
To spend just one day on the making of a Hammer horror is a pleasant experience. The expertise of Les Bowie in charge of Special Effects is fascinating to watch; the artistry of Make-Up man Eddie Knight is inspiring. Every move made by the actors; each drop of blood carefully spilled; each well-known prop faithfully cared for; everything done with professional skill and care.
The last word comes from Cushing "We are all sincere in our work - actors and technicians. To make Frankenstein work we must and do believe in him and the story the film tells".
Shane Briant: Shane Briant was born in London in 1946. As his late father, novelist and biographer Keith Briant, was then serving in the Irish Guards, Shane spent the first six years of his life in Germany. After completing his education, he went to Trinity College, Dublin, studying law, and played leading roles at the Trinity Theatre, which he also managed. He finished up with a law degree and made various appearances in television and theatre. When times were hard, for five months he was a barman. Then came his first break. He was cast in "Children of the Wolf" which was transferred to London enjoying considerable success. He made his movie debut in 1971 in "Blood will have Blood" and later that year appeared in "Straight On Till Morning" after which he appeared in the Hammer horror venture "Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter" and made various appearances in television drama.
Madeline Smith: Madeline Smith was born in Sussex. Her first film role was in "The Mini Mob", other small parts followed, including a feature role in "Tam Lin". After small television roles she was given an important part in "Vampire Lovers", which was quickly followed by "Forbush and the Penguins" and "Up Pompeii". She has been seen frequently on television in drama and comedy shows, and has also appeared on stage in both London and the Provinces. Her other film credits include "Up The Front", "The Amazing Mr. Blunden" and "Theatre of Blood". Madeline is unmarried and lives with her parents in London.
Dave Prowse: Dave Prowse was born in Bristol on July 1st, 1935. As a boy of thirteen he was all set for a promising athletic career when a trick of fate decided otherwise, and trouble with one of his legs (which at first was mistakenly diagnosed as T.B. of the knee!) kept him in a leg iron until the age of sixteen. A course in bodybuilding led to a highly successful career as an international weightlifter, resulted in his being accepted as an authority in progressive resistance exercise, and culminating in the opening of his own Keep Fit Department at Harrods, and his own health studio. In recent years he has traveled all over the world giving exhibitions, talks and demonstrations, and embarked upon an acting career in such films as "Hammerhead". He has appeared as the monster in two of Hammer's Frankenstein films.
John Stratton: John Stratton was born in 1925 in the North of England. He started his acting career after World War II and appeared on television in "Softly, Softly"; "Paul Temple"; and "Hadley". His dramas include "Seasons of the Year" and "Anywhere But England". In 1969 he appeared in the television series "UFO". His part in "Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell" marked his debut in feature films.
Terence Fisher: Terence Fisher, who has become a "cult" figure with horror movie fans throughout the world, was born in Horsham, Sussex. He served for several years in the Merchant Navy. Five years subsequently in the textile business preceded his joining the film industry as the "oldest clapper boy" in the business in the mid '40's. He soon transferred to editing and became supervising editor at Teddington Studios. His first big success as a director was "The Curse of Frankenstein" which was to establish the classic Hammer horror tradition.
Peter Cushing: Peter Cushing was born in Surrey, May 26th 1913. After various repertory experience he saved 50 pounds passage money and sailed for America in 1938. He returned to the UK after two, not over successful, years in Hollywood and started again working in theatre, films ("The End of the Affair" is one of his favorites) and television. After his part in George Orwell's "1984", Hammer cast him as the infamous Baron Frankenstein in "The Curse of Frankenstein" in 1956 and the film's success brought him international stardom. Since then he has played the part four times as well as making other horror movies including "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors"; "Island of Terror"; "Tales from the Crypt"; "Fear in the Night"; "The Satanic Rites of Dracula"; and has recently completed two films for Hammer in the Far East "The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires" and "Shatter". Peter Cushing has made many stage and television appearances. He played Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series.
by Christopher Gullo
"Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell" has always been one of my favorite Cushing/Frankenstein films (right behind "Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed"). Cushing's last outing as the Baron (Dr. Victor) is far beyond the character he first created in "The Curse of Frankenstein". All of the Baron's morals went out the window and what's left is a man who will stop at nothing to prove his theories. In FMFH, the Baron is in total control of the inmates, wards, and even the director himself. He used his knowledge to blackmail the director into making him the head doctor of the asylum and faking his death to throw the authorities off his back.
Patrick Troughton puts in an appearance as a nervous grave robber who is caught in the act and turns in Dr. Helder to the police. Troughton, who would gain fame as Doctor Who #2, would also appear in Hammer's "The Gorgon" and "Scars of Dracula".
The film itself is very well made and is a fine ending for the Hammer Frankenstein cycle. The sets are convincingly dark and eerie while the music provides a suitable mood to match. There is a nice connection from the last film as the Baron explains to Helder that the reason he can no longer perform surgery is that is hands were badly burned in a fire (a tie back to the ending of "Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed" in which he was dragged back into a burning house by his creation).
If you have the Paramount VHS version then you are probably not too happy with it. Paramount saw fit to release a sliced and diced version of the film which cut out most of the gore and violence. I picked up the fully uncut version from a tape from Holland (the Japanese laser disc is also fully uncut). This version includes Frankenstein using his teeth to hold together a vein in the monster's hand, the full operation, and the gory ending in which the inmates tear apart the monster piece by piece and proceed to throw the parts around! The only bad aspect with the uncut tape is the Dutch subtitles running along the bottom of the screen. Hopefully, Anchor Bay will get the rights to this Hammer classic and release it on DVD fully uncut.
(From Left to Right: operating on the monster, Terence Fisher directing, Dave Prowse, Julie Ege, Veronica Carlson & Madeline Smith kidding around on the set, original pre-production story board of the asylum's assembly hall, original pre-production story board of the asylum's surgery room)