Victor Frankenstein (Ralph Bates, DR JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE) is a brilliant but arrogant student who thinks nothing of belittling his teacher in front of his classmates at school. When the teacher discovers the photograph of a naked female in Victor's desk, he orders him to the front of the class for a caning. But Victor avoids this humiliation by convincing the teacher he is having palpitations.
Later, Victor explains to his bemused classmates that he simply played upon his teacher's biggest weakness - his hypochondria. He also explains that the photo of the nude - complete with dotted lines that Victor has drawn across its limbs - is purely for academic reasons. He has, it seems, a scientific interest in anatomy ...
That evening Victor returns to his father's grandiose castle and asks his lecherous but wealthy Dad to fund him through University. The elderly Baron refuses point blank, making the fatal error of uttering the words "you'll see me in my grave before ...". Sure enough, the father dies in a mysterious shooting accident the morning after, and no sooner is the old Scrooge buried than Victor is off to University with his inheritance paying the way.
At University, Victor wastes no time in cockily correcting his lecturers in biology class, making a close friend in the innocent Wilhelm (Graham James, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB) - even trusting his mate to bear sight of a severed arm Victor has managed to re-animate - and dating the Dean's daughter.
However, when Victor inadvertently impregnates the girl, the Dean insists he make an honest woman of her. Victor has other ideas and promptly leaves University, returning to the family castle with new best buddy Wilhelm in tow.
Back home, the boys go horse riding in the country and stumble across Victor's gorgeous old school friend Elizabeth (Veronica Carlson, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE), who is being robbed by highwaymen. Victor saves the day by shooting one of the robbers dead. Accepting an invite to dinner from the grateful Elizabeth, Victor loiters behind as everyone flees the scene and takes a trophy from the dead robber ... his head!
Confiding in Wilhelm, Victor sets about conducting experiments in his castle laboratory, eager to build a being from dead body parts and bring it back to life. The initially reluctant Wilhelm gradually becomes coerced into aiding his friend in his fiendish scheme.
All of which can only bring a whole load of trouble ... trouble that involves a nosy grave robber (Dennis Price before he started sleepwalking drunk through Jess Franco films), Victor's dalliances with not only Elizabeth but also beautiful housemaid Alys (Kate O'Mara, THE VAMPIRE LOVERS), and - of course - a psychotic monster (David Prowse, STAR WARS).
Brisk in pace and colourful in delivery, the cartoonish HORROR is a gleefully silly period romp, boyishly fascinated by big breasts and campy gore. Performances are characteristically over-the-top, while Jimmy Sangster's direction is light-hearted, frill-free and readily assured.
For fans of RE-ANIMATOR and FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN, this can also be seen as an invaluable source of reference for the likes of Stuart Gordon and Paul Morrissey.
The picture quality is excellent. A pleasingly sharp and bright anamorphic 1.85:1 presentation will delight fans of the movie. Only minor grain appears, and this is infrequent enough so far as to be negligible. The English mono soundtrack, too, is as good as could be hoped for.
Static menus include a scene-selection menu allowing access to the main feature via 12 chapters.
The main extra on offer is a feature-length commentary track from Sangster, in conversation with author Marcus Hearne. Sangster sounds his age (81) and is sometimes hard to decipher - but is a pleasure to hear him talk about the project (which he also co-wrote), and Hearne does a good job of keeping things moving with intelligent prompts.
Carlson turns up for a new 13-minute interview where she fondly recalls her big break into acting, and speaks with genuine awe about Christopher Lee. Her memories of being part of the "Hammer family" are obviously treasured ones.
Rounding things off is a decent 4-minute stills gallery, which features 34 images - ranging from theatrical poster artwork to behind-the-scenes photographs.
Hokum as art, done to silly perfection by Hammer as per usual. Recommended.
Review by Stu Willis
|Released by Optimum|
|Region 2 - PAL|
|see main review|