The Revenge of Frankenstein

Peter Cushing and Francis Matthews in The Revenge of Frankenstein (dir. Terence Fisher, 1958).

The second movie in the series makes it click for me: Fisher not only thinks the real monster is Baron Frankenstein; he thinks this makes him the most interesting character. The creature functions in Revenge, as in Curse, only as a symptom. In order to stress the point, this creature (Michael Gwynn) even starts out as handsome, in a gangly English way at least, and when he does turn ugly, it's with a minimum of makeup. The small killing rampage he goes on serves mainly to emphasize Frankenstein's sociopathically callous irresponsibility for creating him. Although he is more sympathetic than Christoper Lee's zombie boogeyman in Curse, he's still a far cry from Shelley's original philosopher creature or Boris Karloff's tragic idiot. Frankenstein, on the other hand, is a suave, determined fiend. By the end of the film, Cushing has fully refined his trademark aura of ironic Nietzschean anti-villainy.

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