Anthony Nelson Keys
Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein
Simon Ward as Karl
Veronica Carlson as Anna
Peter Cushing strikes back – of course, he wasn’t in Empire Strikes Back (reference for true Star Wars fans) – as Baron Frankenstein in this Hammer production twelve years removed from the studio’s debut of The Curse of Frankenstein. This one carries over all the Hammer Horror essential elements, including a decent amount of gore and a healthy dose of sexual situations. It’s also low budget and only worth your time if you liked the original and are curious about the good baron’s subsequent adventures.
In Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed the Doctor is more determined than ever to reanimate, not bodies, but brains and preserve them for all eternity by transplanting them into fresh corpses. Although exiled from his native Austria, he continues his work in a secret London laboratory until it’s burglarized. In an attempt to kill the thief he destroys most of his specimens and equipment. Aware that his location is now exposed, Frankenstein absconds to a boarding house. Relentless in pursuing his work, he blackmails a young psychiatrist into helping him acquire access to Paul Krempke – his former associate – now mentally deranged. Together they set out to transplant Paul’s brain into a new body so that Frankenstein can once again benefit from the knowledge of his assistant.
The gore is mostly confined to the laboratory, except for a scene when a water main breaks and a corpse pops out of the garden. Yet, Frankenstein is viler than ever. He is not only willing to blackmail and kill whomever he sees fit, but also rape a troublesome (and busty) young woman in an attempt to make her more submissive. The graphic malevolence of the rape scene (although not R-rated) is unexpected given the relatively tame action of the rest of the film.
If you’ve seen any of the other Hammer Frankensteins you will not be impressed by the plot and one gets the sense that the studio is pushing the envelope on profitability with this fourth installment (though Hammer would make two more in the series). When watching I was reminded of points when other franchises had outlived their ability to entertain. Frankenstein must Be Destroyed shares the same company as Halloween IV, Nightmare on Elm Street II and Saw III.
Yet, the Hammer Frankenstein franchise is intrinsically valuable for a couple reasons. 1) This is the studio that brought together the trifecta of gore, scares and sexuality within the confines of a tight budget – a formula that should be familiar to fans as it is the basis for 70-80% of horror films since the 1970s. 2) Even while laying the groundwork for the direction of horror, Hammer also demonstrated how to suck as many pennies as possible out of a profitable concept with multiple even lower budget sequels. By the time they made Frankenstein must be Destroyed, it is clear the concept had already been driven well into the ground.
Hence, if you want to see one of the FIRST hackneyed and low budget ‘part IV’s before the Jasons, Freddys and Jigsaws got their shot… You might enjoy Frankenstein must Be Destroyed. Or if you are like me and just like Peter Cushing’s portrayal of Baron Frankenstein, this one won’t disappoint.