Sentenced to death for his crimes, Baron Frankenstein escapes the guillotine with the help of one of his jailers, Karl a deformed man with a whithered arm. In return the Baron agrees to transplant Karl's brain into a healthy body. The Baron flees Switzerland for Germany where after 3 years of experimentation fulfills his side of the bargain and performs the brain transplant. But after suffering an injury during his recovery, Karl develops a unforeseen side affect - a craving for human flesh... Brilliant as it is, Curse of Frankenstein feels almost like a dress rehearsal for the sequel which emerges as a more confident and stylish picture. Simply put, this is a quintessential Hammer masterwork. The garish color of the original film is more controlled and balanced here, and the film has a stronger visual sensibility thanks to Terence Fisher's inventive direction - one would hardly recognise the atmospheric cavernous sets were being shared with the Dracula production, with much credit due to the genius of Bernard Robinson and his art department.
Once again Peter Cushing takes center stage as the Baron, delivering another triumphant performance mixing impeccably style and manners with cold-blooded malevolence. The monster figures even less here than the original film with Karl's marauding flesh-eater more like a drooling Mr. Hyde type character than a re-animated corpse, but Sangster wrote two of the film's most powerful scenes around Frankenstein's pitiful experiment - when Karl burns his lifeless deformed body in a crematorium, and the scene where Karl literally gatecrashes a society ball and reveals the true identity of "Dr. Stein". The film has little in the way of show stopping gory moments, but Revenge has some disturbing undercurrents, like the cannibalism element (some 15 years before another British production explored the taboo in Frightmare), or the idea of the Baron callously experimenting on the poor and sick at the hospital like a Nazi concentration camp doctor.
Columbia's 2002 DVD comes without any significant extras and packaged in a rather dull and uninspired sleeve, but thankfully the anamorphic widescreen transfer framed around 1.66 is quite nice and faithfully reproduces the film's subdued Eastman color. The film itself looks great for its age, and the DVD offers a sharp detailed image. No problems either with the mono audio. What extras there are on the disc amount to a routine photo gallery and the film's trailer in which Peter Cushing brings the audience up to speed on his exploits. (The disc also contains a trailer for Earth vs the Flying Saucers)A quick shot of one of the Baron's creations, made in his likeness, which explains the twist ending