Friday, October 12, 2012
Baron Victor Von Frankenstein reluctantly allows an American television crew to shoot a documentary about his famous “mad scientist” ancestor. Victor is a cantankerous old fart who was tortured by the Nazis during the war and as a result walks hunchbacked and crippled. He does not hide his displeasure about hosting the film crew in his home however he agrees to this arrangement because he needs money to purchase an ‘atomic reactor’ to heat his large estate, or so he says. Estate manager Wilhelm Gottfried fears that Victor’s true motive is to recreate Dr. Frankenstein’s famous experiment. When Wilhelm asks Victor if he is aware that bodies have been reported missing from the local morgue, Victor plays dumb. Once the atomic reactor arrives and is installed Victor gets to work. In a secret lab deep in the estate Victor assembles his Frankenstein. The lab is equipped with recording devices enabling Victor to track the movements and conversations of everyone in the estate. After murdering his butler for his brain Victor’s monster is complete. Soon bodies begin to pile up as the monster is unleashed on the guests.
Director Howard W. Koch no doubtscored a coup getting Boris Karloff to sign on for this film, which was the first time he acted in a Frankenstein movie since 1944’s ‘House of Frankenstein’. It’s too bad that ‘Frankenstein 1970’ falls short; a completely wasted opportunity in my book. Some judicious editing might have been able to tighten the plodding story up a bit, however even a shorter runtime would not change the been-there-done-that feel this film engenders. Frankenstein 1970 features a “monster” that resembles the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man more than the menacing hulk we expect and demand. Karloff, as always, shines in his role, chewing the scenery with amazing gravitas, which is especially impressive given the silly material he is given to work with. Despite my somewhat negative take, it’s still fun and worth a look.