Critics abhorred it, audiences loved it, and Hammer executives where thrilled with the box office returns: The Curse of Frankenstein was big business. The 1957 film is the first to bring together in a horror movie the 'unholy two', Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, together with the Hammer company, and director Terence Fisher, combinations now legendary among horror fans. In his Devil's Advocate, Marcus Harmes goes back to where the Hammer horror production started, looking at the film from a variety of perspectives: as a loose literaryadaptation of Mary Shelley's novel; as a film that had, for legal reasons, to avoid adapting from James Whale's 1931 film for Universal Pictures; and as one which found immediate sources of inspiration in the Gainsborough bodice rippers of the 1940s and the poverty row horrors of the 1950s. Later Hammer horrors may have consolidated the reputation of the company and the stars, but these works had their starting point in the creative and commercial choices made by the team behind The Curse of Frankenstein. In the film sparks fly, new life is created and horrors unleashed but the film itself was a jolt to 1950s cinema going that has never been entirely surpassed.
Well-written and thoroughly researched, Marcus K. Harmes' excellent study is a testament to the enduring appeal and enthusiasm for The Curse of Frankenstein, and leaves room for other individual examinations of Hammer's classic output from the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Harmes definitively establishes the decades-long impact of The Curse of Frankenstein on the gothic horror film genre.
Sydney Morning Herald