Frankenstein 1970 (1958)

*. If I told you that Frankenstein 1970 was made in 1958 your curiosity might be piqued. A futuristic Frankenstein movie?
*. If I told you it starred Boris Karloff as the last of the line of his Frankensteins you might be intrigued. Sure, the end of Karloff’s career was mostly a wasteland of garbage, but he was often good in some bad roles.
*. If I told you the premise had the now destitute Karloff renting out his castle to a bunch of hack filmmakers looking to make a TV documentary about Frankenstein’s ancestors you might be really interested. It’s a meta-horror before — long before — those became all the rage. The whole opening scene is one of those teases where it turns out it’s all just a movie. In 1958 that was pretty clever.
*. If I told you that this Frankenstein, who is both a famous scientist and a master hypnotist, had been tortured by the Nazis in Belsen during the Second World War (he didn’t want to help them in their experiments), and is now looking to continue the family line by installing an “atomic steam generator” in his basement laboratory you might be grinning. Nazis and nuclear power!
*. If I told you all this and added that there are actually a number of clever flourishes made all the more impressive for this being a Grade Z picture shot in 8 days — like the monster looming up in the photographer’s viewfinder, or a dissolve that takes us from a living character’s eyes to the same eyes now transplanted into the monster’s head, or even an unintentionally funny flushing sound made by the baron’s disposal unit in the lab — you might even be planning to watch Frankenstein 1970 the next chance you got.
*. Alas, all of this is true, and none of it means a thing because Frankenstein 1970 is hellaciously dull. Even at just over 80 minutes you’ll have a hard time sitting through it.
*. Leonard Maltin: “BOMB. Film is slow, monster unexciting, Karloff hammy.” Yes, it’s slow. Very slow. The monster I would describe as laughable rather than unexciting. His head looks like an upside-down garbage pail wrapped in bandages (and I wouldn’t be surprised if that is what it in fact was). He also doesn’t do much as he is blind throughout most of the movie (something which doesn’t seem to affect him in any way) and can’t express himself except through growls. The woman he “kills” simply screams and drops dead when she sees him.
*. Karloff hammy? Well, sure, but how else was he going to play this? I don’t think he had a lot of options.
*. I will, however, mostly agree with the BOMB rating. Despite the moments of cleverness this is a sub-Roger Corman production and with all it had going for it in the camp department it’s amazing it isn’t more enjoyable. Everything just seems thrown at the screen without any sense of how it all connects. Even the attempt at a surprise ending doesn’t raise more than a shrug. To say it’s not as bad as it should have been is only to say that it isn’t total garbage. And if you like this kind of thing you might get something out of seeing it. Once.

9 thoughts on “Frankenstein 1970 (1958)

    1. Alex Good Post author

      It was a long while ago (the review has been in my notes for years) and I no longer remember. I think I was trying to do a whole bunch of Frankenstein movies.


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