From flesh and innocence, Frankenstein has created the ultimate in evil. A beautiful woman with the soul of the devil!
With a tagline like that, how can you not watch this movie?
The fourth film in Hammer’s Frankenstein series, this is the one where we stop thinking about death as a physical matter and start getting into the question of the soul and what it means.
The movie starts with Hans Werner watching his father executed by the guillotine. Then, we see him as a young man, working as an assistant to Dr. Hertz and Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing, as it always must be). The doctors have learned how to trap the soul before it leaves the body — they must have been watching The Asphyx* — and think that they can transfer it into another body.
They get their chance when Hans is put to death defending the honor of his girlfriend Christina (Susan Denberg, Playboy Playmate of the Month for August 1966) after several rich men abuse her for her deformities and killing her father. After he follows in his father’s footsteps, the doctors are able to extract his soul.
Unable to live without Hans, Christina drowns herself in a river, but the doctors decide to transfer Hans essence into the body of his lover. For months, the two doctors work to heal her physical maladies and make her the perfect woman. The big problem is that she’s haunted by Hans, who she sees as a ghostly apparition, and begins to hunt down the men who killed him and her father.
As the film closes, Christina realizes that she should have never come back to life, so she drowns herself again as Frankenstein somehow learns a lesson and walks away.
Directed by Terrence Fisher, this is the kind of Hammer film that I love, one that moves away from simply being modern versions of classic horror and creating their own commentary on the world through the lens of the fantastic.
*I realize that movie was made five years after this, but the joke was too simple to not use.