The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

This is going to be difficult for some of you to understand.  Once upon a time ago, there was a Hollyweird without horror films.  Sure, there were Z-grade science fiction flicks with aliens invading Earth and all that but, when it came to Gothic thrillers with creaky old houses and mad scientists hellbent on robbing graves for body parts, the truth is that there were simply none.



No vampires, no werewolves, and certainly no mummies. It seemed, thanks to the efforts of Universal during its Jack Pierce-led heyday of monsters and freaks, the cinematic take on classic monsters was done to, well, death.

And Universal was going to guard its legacy with legal action, if need be.

That is until the House of Hammer, already under construction with some successes in the Science Fiction department, was finally built.  Thanks to the handiwork of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, Dracula and Frankenstein would live again to see another set of sunrises and sunsets and lots of flames.  Of course, others helped along the way but, quite honestly, you don’t get the job down without those two actors involved.

"Hammer's first foray into all things horror was quite the envelope pusher for the censors at the time of its release"

By the late 1950s, the slab was set for a massive monster resurgence and Hammer Film Productions, an independent film company from London, was about to take center stage with their adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  Titled The Curse of Frankenstein, the horror film features director Terence Fisher’s steady direction, some lavish production designs from set designer Bernard Robinson, and a gothic atmosphere to the shoot from cinematographer Jack Archer.  Alongside fine performances from Lee and Cushing, you have all the ingredients Hammer Studios needed for success.

Well, almost.  You see, Hammer needed cleavage and the ladies in The Curse of Frankenstein certainly do not disappoint.  Yes, it’s no secret that Hammer exploited the female body throughout its run, and - when you can showcase some curves in color and hopefully get those lovely lady lumps past the censors - The Curse of Frankenstein, while novice-like, is certainly no slouch in that department.  From the lovely bosom of Hazel Court as Elizabeth Frankenstein to the open mouth kisses from Valerie Gaunt as Justine, Hammer's first foray into all things horror was quite the envelope pusher for the censors at the time of its release.

And that’s just the sex stuff.

We all - or we all should know - the story of Frankenstein by now.  What Jimmy Sangster’s screenplay wisely does is side-step what viewers saw before when Universal first brought Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein to life and shocks its audience into a wide-eyed haze as we get more of Frankenstein’s surgical depravity as he attempts to play God again and again and again, killing others for their brains or their bodies. 

As Universal was very interested in Hammer’s production, everyone involved knew they could not copy the look Jack Pierce had created for Karloff.  They had to come up with something far more gross as this monster would be IN COLOR.  So, they went about deepening the scars to make them look fresher, gave Lee a diseased eye (which is still quite effective), wrapped him in gauze so that he could peel it off, and added more dead skin to his face to give him a very eerie look.  With epically vivid moments of color as Christopher Lee as The Monster takes his first steps, The Curse of Frankenstein showcases the extremely satisfying work of make-up artist Phil Leake and gives us a very unique look at Frankenstein's creation. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

With an extreme close-up upon his revelation, Lee looks all sorts of threatening as his face, covered in mortician’s wax, is completed with a very wet look to the yellow and white greasepaint which serves to make him look even more imposing . . . and new.

Couple this with Cushing’s fine performance as Baron Victor Frankenstein, whom we finally get a look at in the beginning of the film while he waits to be hanged for the murder of his servant, a woman he once professed his undying love to.  Oh, he had no intention of ever marrying the poor girl but . . . it gets pretty lonely in the castle and, you know, those open-mouthed kisses of hers are very tempting.

As Victor’s sad story unfolds, we witness the rise and fall of a bright student upon the death of his mother.  He’s broken but bounces back in time, hiring himself a tutor, Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart), and then, as the years pass, convinces him to help him with his experiments in bringing dead things back to life.  They start with a puppy but, quite soon enough, the whole thing goes tits up when Victor’s obsession gets the better part of his ambition and he decides to source and stitch together a human from various parts, bringing it to life with the expectation of giving life to all things.

But, with so much death in the way, it’s not hard for the viewer to see just how insane this scientist is, especially when he is put into a corner and starts recklessly killing anyone who stands in the way of him salvaging his creation.

People are still talking about Hammer Films and for good reason.  We are referring to, after all, a bedrock of lavish horror films that have withstood time and changing tastes.  Uniquely antiquated in style and very, very British, this independent production company originally made a name for them shortly after the ending of World War II by cashing in on a series of cheap detective B-movies.  It wasn’t until their success with 1955’s The Quatermass Xperiment that they began to open the tomb of horror and became Britain’s most successful independent movie production company.

With a series of madly popular Dracula and Frankenstein films, a new house of horror was constructed and single-handedly launched the longevity of the acting careers of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.  They became icons in the genre and, with the release of The Curse of Frankenstein, found themselves a permanent spot in the hearts of millions.

The Curse of Frankenstein is now on a 2-disc blu-ray - featuring 3 different cuts of the film with varying aspect ratios - from the Warner Archive Collection.  This release is not to be missed.

5/5 masks


The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Warner Bros.
Available on Blu-ray
- December 15, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.33:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; two-disc set
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

Baron Victor Frankenstein has discovered the secret to generating new life and unleashed a murderous ripple effect, born from his cursed creation: a monster with a horrid face and a tendency to kill.


Eastman Kodak might not be the cleanest looking print but Warner Bros delivers the goods with this spot-on transfer.  It’s a nice 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.


A crisp DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio mix provides the sound for the resurrection of Frankenstein.


Extras include a detailed commentary, the open matte version of the movie, a cool interview with Richard Klemensen about Hammer Horror, an interview with Author and cultural historian Sir Christopher Frayling about Gothic traditions in film, another interview with Cinematographer David J. Miller about Jack Asher’s work, a look at composer James Bernard’s scores for Hammer, and a Theatrical Trailer.


  • There is one very detailed commentary from filmmaker / film historian Constantine Nasr and screenwriter / film historian Steve Haberman which documents all the behind the scenes action and lists the film’s many successes.

Special Features:

Disc One:

  • Audio Commentary

Disc Two:

  • 1.37:1 Open Matte Version
  • The Resurrection Men: Hammer, Frankenstein and the Rebirth of the Horror Film
  • Hideous Progeny: The Curse of Frankenstein and the English Gothic Tradition
  • Torrents of Light: The Art of Jack Asher
  • Diabolus in Musica: James Bernard and the Sound of Hammer Horror
  • Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating

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

Composite Blu-ray Grade 4/5 stars

 Film Details

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

MPAA Rating: Approved.
82 mins
: Terence Fisher
Jimmy Sangster; Mary Shelley
Peter Cushing; Hazel Court; Robert Urquhart
: Horror | Sci-fi

Memorable Movie Quote: I've harmed nobody, just robbed a few graves!
Theatrical Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 25, 195 (United States)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 15, 2020
Synopsis: While awaiting execution for murder, Baron Victor Frankenstein tells the story of a creature he built and brought to life - only for it to behave not as he intended.


The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)