Review of “Frankenstein 1970” (1958)

trailer from You Tube

Our Saturday pizza and bad movie was a return to an old friend, both in monster and actor. Svengoolie didn’t disappoint.

Plot:

The opening scene of this black-and-white flick shows a young blond woman, Carolyn Hayes (Jana Lund), pursued by a lumbering man whose face is not shown (Mike Lane). The young woman backs into a pond. The lumbering man holds her head under—for a while. The viewer hears someone yell, “Cut!”

And still, the man holds the hapless young woman under. The actor playing the monster, Hans Himmler, doesn’t speak English. Someone has to translate.

He releases the actress, who emerges coughing with some sort of vegetation in her hair.

The director, an obnoxious Douglas Row (Don “Red” Barry), has words with his assistant, who happens to be his ex-wife, Judy Stevens (Charlotte Austin). They’re making a film at Castle Frankenstein to commemorate the 230th anniversary of the original monster.

Inside the castle, Baron Victor Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) grouses with his friend, Wilhelm Gottfried (Rudolph Anders), his financial advisor, about letting those movie folk onto his property. Wilhelm reminds him he’s strapped for cash. The Baron keeps buying laboratory equipment, like that nuclear reactor, which people in 1958 apparently expected to be available for the discerning consumer by 1970.

Later, chummy, loud-mouthed Director Row fixes himself drinks, puts his arm over the Baron’s shoulder (earning his hand a dirty look), and asks about shooting some film in the Baron’s family crypt. After all, it’s conveniently located downstairs… He passes the Baron some cash. It’s a deal.

But there’s more downstairs than the director bargained for.

Thoughts:

This was released in 1958 but set in 1970. The character of Victor Frankenstein, the last of his line, tortured by the Nazis, has scars on his face. These scars change from scene to scene.

Karloff is at his hammiest here, and there are some unintentionally amusing scenes.

At one point, Wilhelm, well acquainted with the Frankenstein family history, inquires what the Baron needs with all that laboratory equipment. There’s more. “What business do you have with the coroner?” he asks. Uh-oh. Wilhelm sees the same look on the Baron’s face the Baron’s mom might have seen when she turned the kitchen light on one night to find her boy’s hand in the cookie jar.

How does one dispose of… extra parts? The powers that be deemed the sound of grinding machinery too gruesome, so they substituted the sound of a toilet flushing.

The writers also gave the ardent fan a scene that pays tribute to the Son of Frankenstein and that Young Frankenstein would later use.

The actors in the movie-within-the-movie have their own dramas going on. The obnoxious director makes eyes at the leading lady and taunts his ex-wife. She rolls her eyes and collects her paycheck.

The film was shot in eight days. It is hardly a masterpiece, but it is a lot of fun. I liked it.

The movie can be watched here:








Title: Frankenstein 1970 (1958)

Directed by
Howard W. Koch

Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)
Richard H. Landau…(screenplay) (as Richard Landau)
Charles A. Moses…(story)
Aubrey Schenck…(story)
Mary Shelley…(characters) (uncredited)
George Worthing Yates…(screenplay)

Cast (in credits order)
Boris Karloff…Baron Victor von Frankenstein
Tom Duggan…Mike Shaw
Jana Lund…Carolyn Hayes
Don “Red” Barry…Douglas Row (as Donald Barry)
Charlotte Austin…Judy Stevens

Released: 1958
Length: 1 hour, 23 minutes

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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