Director: Terence Fisher
Writer: Bert Batt
Cast: Peter Cushing, Veronica Carlson, Freddie Jones, Simon Ward, Thorley Walters, Maxine Audley, George Pravda, Geoffrey Bayldon, Colette O’Neil, Frank Middlemass, George Belbin, Norman Shelley, Michael Gover, Peter Copley, Jim Collier, Allan Surtees, and Windsor Davies
Composer: James Bernard
Release Date: 5/22/1969
MPAA Rating: PG-13
With the reluctant help of a young doctor named Karl (Simon Ward) and his fiancée Anna (Veronica Carlson), Baron Frankenstein kidnaps his colleague Doctor Brandt (George Pravda) from a mental ward, cures him of his insanity, and transplants his brain into the body of Professor Richter (Freddie Jones)—director of the insane asylum. Complications arise, however, when the Brandt/Richter creature awakens from surgery and, horrified at his new appearance, plans to take drastic measures against the Baron.
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed benefits from a chilling Gothic atmosphere, a harrowing performance from Peter Cushing, and a unique depiction of the Frankenstein monster. British horror fans should therefore enjoy this offering, which earns its status as one of the strongest entries in Hammer’s lineup of films.
Though lacking the angular features of Boris Karloff and the towering height of Christopher Lee, Freddie Jones offers a captivating interpretation of the Frankenstein monster—actually the reanimated Professor Richter with the brain of Dr. Brandt. Especially laudable are the sensitive and articulate qualities of the monster, who, as a victim of Frankenstein’s evil experiments, compels the audience to sympathize with his revenge plot against the Baron.
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed is marred by one significant narrative flaw. Specifically, critical viewers will likely question why the Baron would commit blackmail, theft, and murder simply to learn of Dr. Brandt’s research on brain transplantation—a procedure that Frankenstein already knows how to perform on his own.
Also puzzling is the infamous rape scene, which, despite establishing the Baron as a depraved individual, seems disconnected from the surrounding story—likely a consequence of its late addition to the shooting script.
Enraged over his plight, the Brandt/Richter creature chooses to turn the tables on Baron Frankenstein—similar to the monster from Mary Shelley’s novel, who also goes to extraordinary lengths in order to torment his creator.
In spite of several continuity issues, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed is a haunting, well-acted installment in the Hammer series. Worth praising in particular is the development/portrayal of the monster, who, unlike his rampaging counterpart from The Curse of Frankenstein, exhibits a delicate and tragic personality in this film.
Overall Quality: 8/10
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