The Movie: Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
What Is It?: The Curse of Frankenstein fully established the Hammer conventions: excessive blood, sleazy sex, and source material with roots in Universal horror. Screenwriter Jimmy Sangster jettisons much of what made James Whale’s movie great. Frankenstein was a poetic, deeply humane portrait of a monstrous innocent driven to horrendous acts after being abandoned by his equally sympathetic creator. The Curse of Frankenstein is a portrait of cruelty. Focus shifts away from the Monster and onto the doctor, who is more villainous than any horror character since Mamoulian’s Hyde, and like Hyde, he is not without his charms because he is played with electrifying gusto. Peter Cushing is great in the title role, magnetic even as he murders a kindly house guest, launches into megalomaniacal rants, or torments the maid with whom he’s having an affair.
Why Today?: This is the date in Mary Shelley’s book that Robert Walton finds Frankenstein’s sledge.