But FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN began to bother me from the first viewing. Why was the Baron suddenly trying to mess around with ‘souls’? What is this crap!? The Baron I knew would have laughed at the very idea of such a thing. He was a man of reason and science, dammit! Souls were silly fictions made up to scare the ignorant masses into being nice, obedient slaves. Frankenstein dealt in reality! He dealt in the grimy, bloody viscera of the human animal and knew what made it function. This is the man who constructed a body from corpses and zapped life into it! Souls? Show me one! Where is it? The fact that this story posits that he would care about a soul much less attempt to construct a way of capturing one just struck me as ridiculous.
Then I rewatched the movie last week. The fine podcast 1951 Down Place wasthe push I needed. When the show’s hosts decided to cover FCW for its October show I cringed. I like to be able to add comments for them when I can and since I hadn’t seen the film for years I felt it was time to revisit the Baron’s soul experiments. I did not look forward to it.
Imagine my surprise when, this time, the film worked for me. The process by which the Baron might come to shift his experimental focus from only surgery to this line of inquiry became clear. After multiple failures, that he often could not account for, his ever quick mind seems to have moved to new areas. Since he had clearly perfected the physical aspect of the process (after a fashion) it would be only natural to look into a better way of moving the human mind from one person’s corpse to a fresh creation. The question of how to insure a stable ‘creature’ is then solved- fix the damaged body then insert the consciousness of another person into the repaired body. No more screwing around with brains and transplants – he can just swap the mental essence of a person from one place to another. Genius! Of course, the bizarre machinery he builds that can capture the ‘soul’ is completely crazy in both concept and in the way it’s depicted. With its floating ball of energy held in a colorfully lit room it comes off as absurd even in context of a Frankenstein film but that’s a secondary concern here that the film wisely moves past as soon as possible.
So then once my dislike of this core element of the story dropped away I was able see how good FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN really is overall. It has the same wonderful Gothic production values I love in Hammer movies, great performances (Thorley Walters is fantastic), extremely nasty villains, a sympathetic pair of leads/lovers and a great logical progression for the story as it winds to its tragic conclusion. I have to say I now consider this to be my third favorite Hammer Frankenstein movie behind REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN and FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED. That is quite a leap. I can hardly believe how radically my view of FCW has shifted- it’s a full 180 degree switch. This surprising reevaluation makes me excited to revisit other movies from the studio to see what happens. Maybe SCARS OF DRACULA will turn out to be a work of brilliance that I’ve been snubbing? No- I doubt that!