Bonus Reviews: The Soul of a Monster (1944) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)
Horror Bulletin Bonus for Week 181
For this week’s bonus films, we’ll look two more horror films. We'll start with "The Soul of a Monster" from 1944, and then follow that up with the Hammer film, "Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell" from 1974.
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1944 The Soul of a Monster
Director: Will Jason
Writer: Edward Dein
Stars: Rose Hobart, George Macready, Jim Bannon
Run Time: 1 Hour, 1 Minute
Note that some sources, at least online, list “The Soul of a Monster” as included with the rest of the Son of Shock package, but this is really not the case. It was quite often aired with the other films, so it has managed to find its way onto the lists of those who keep track of such films. It is included here due to its “honorary” inclusion in the list, although it was not actually a part of the package.
We see a scrolling message that explains that what we are about to see may be a dream. We see the newspaper headline stating that famous surgeon George Winson is near death. He got an infection through a torn glove and is dying. We are told he is dying not less that six times in under a minute.
We change scenes and see that Dr. Winson is indeed dying. Wife, Ann, tells Dr. Vance to do something, but there's nothing more to do. "Monsters live, but saints die" she laments. Fred, who appears to be a minister or some kind of religious leader, says she needs to have faith. She prayed to God to save George, but God didn't come through. She thinks maybe she should have tried the devil. She then begs any power who might help to save George.
A couple is driving down the road and run over a woman. When they get out of the car, she's gone. The woman walks past a live wire without flinching, she walks up to the door where the Winsons live; she heard the prayer. She's Lilyan Gregg, and she's come to help. Ann lets her in Winson's room, and after a while, he's all better. The headlines all say "Miracles save Winson!"
Six weeks have passed. Lilyan is leaving. Winson, on the other hand, is cruel, suspicious, and he talks like an animal. Winson kills the family dog. Stevens buys flowers for Ann, but when George pins it on her, the flowers instantly die. There's a pianist who plays some spooky music through a thunderstorm, and Ann starts get really scared while George seems to enjoy the playing. Then all the lights go out. When they come back on, George walks out in a trance; someone is calling him.
He wanders to a nearby bar and he meets up with Lilyan. The next day, Ann confronts Lilyan, and she things George is having an affair with her, or she's possessing him or something like that. Lilyan commands George to kill Fred Stevens with an ice pick. There's a long scene where George trails Fred all through downtown. As George gets ready to strike. Fred holds up a cross that drives George away. Fred confronts George at a small restaurant a few minutes later.
Fred seems to know what's happened, and he suspects that George is alive because the Devil did something to him. He thinks George is a living body without a soul. Or the soul of a monster. George admits that he no longer cares about saving lives or medicine, and that used to be his reason for living. Lilyan says he can do whatever he wishes, he need not follow the laws of men.
His partner, Dr. Vance notices his change in attitude as well. Vance can't find a pulse on George. The next day, George cuts himself, but does not bleed or even feel pain. Vance goes to see Fred and they talk about George. Fred sees Lilyan in his room, and she threatens him.
The next day, Vance gets a call and hurries out of the office, where Lilyan runs over him in her car. It's up to George to save him. George hears Lilyan in his head "You'll never have a better chance; now is the time. Destroy him!" Vance dies, and Winson goes on trial for murder, even though he didn't actually do anything. He's soon released on bail.
Ann prays for guidance and to let George buy back his soul. George confronts Lilyan, and he makes a long monologue. Lilyan pulls out a gun and explains that George will kill himself. Then she shoots him six times. George, who can't be hurt physically, kills Lilyan.
We flash back to the beginning with George on his deathbed. Ann is about to pray for his life, but he tells her not to. Ann, Fred, and Vance watch as George dies, resetting the events in the film that never happened.
George started the film unconscious. He didn't ask for help from the devil, so why does he end up suffering? This is all Ann's fault, but does she get arrested for murder? No!
There's not a lot of mystery here. We're not quite sure what Lilyan is, but she's obviously demonic in some way. George being dead doesn't seem so surprising or even strange; we're just supposed to accept it all. It's mostly well-acted, but it's very by-the-book all the way through. It really feels as though I've seen this film before many times, but that's not really the case, it just feels like a dozen other films you've seen just like it.
#unposted #mind_control #sold_soul #murder #demon
1974 Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell
Director: Terence Fisher
Writer: Anthony Hinds
Stars: Peter Cushing, Shane Briant, Madeline Smith
Run Time: 1 Hour, 33 Minutes
We open on a shot of a grave robber digging in the cemetery. He knocks out a policeman and makes his getaway. He takes the body to Simon Helier, a young doctor who needs the body for his experiments. The robber then goes to the pub for a drink, but then the policeman comes in and catches him. The robber says, “Before you take me in, I’ve got something to tell ya!”
Meanwhile, we see Simon has a big jar full of eyeballs. The policeman comes to the door and breaks in, while Simon hides in the corner. Simon comes out and explains that he wants to stitch all the pieces together to create a good man. The policeman arrests him for sorcery. Simon thinks that’s hilarious. Still, he’s found guilty and committed to an asylum for five years. It’s the very same court that sentence Frankenstein several years ago. Simon says he has all Frankenstein’s books.
He introduces himself to the director of the asylum. The director explains that Frankenstein died several years ago while in his care. When the director finds out Simon is an inmate, he freaks out. The guards hose off Simon in front of all the prisoners. They stop torturing him when “Doctor Karl Victor” comes in, who looks really scary and serious. He demands that Simon is taken to his surgery room. The doctor rips the director a new one, since they are his patients. Clearly, the director is terrified of the doctor.
Doctor Victor examines Simon, and he’s impressed with his brains. Simon knows that Doctor Victor is really Baron Frankenstein. Frankenstein offers Simon a position as his assistant.
Dr. Victor shows Simon around the asylum, introducing him to several of the patients. One man escaped and fell from a high window; Frankenstein explains that he was Neolithic, more animal than man. So there’s a patient with a monstrously strong body, one with a brain for art and music, and another with the hands of a sculptor.
Simon watches a funeral the next day, and it’s for the sculptor. The man’s hands have been removed. Simon realizes what’s going on and wants to help. He follows the mute girl, Sarah, into Frankenstein’s secret lab. He finds the creature, who looks like a gorilla with a slightly human-looking plastic face mask. The creature has no intelligence or thinking ability; it’s just a mindless creature… with the hands of a sculptor.
Simon asks why the creature is so ugly. Frankenstein takes off his gloves and shows that his hands have been ruined; he has no sensitivity in his hands. Sarah has been doing the operations under Frankenstein’s instructions. Simon does several surgeries to correct her mistakes, and soon, the monster can see and use those hands. Now, all he needs is the brain of a genius. The professor’s would be just fine, but he’s healthy and could live another ten years… Except the very next night, the professor hangs himself with his violin strings.
There’s a long, gory shot of the brain removal and transplant. Both doctors are quite pleased with their work, and everything appears to have succeeded. They expect it’ll take ten days for the monster to wake up.
The monster wakes up that very night, and he’s not tied down or anything. He feels himself all over and then goes to a mirror. He says, “Help me!” (but his lips don’t move). Frankenstein explains to him what happened and what he did. The two doctors go off to have a drink and leave the creature to cry in bed.
The creature picks up his old violin and crushes it with his bare hands. They say he needs to learn to use his hands. Soon, they give him a math book, and starts working them out on the blackboard. The body is trying to reject the brain, and that’s not good. He starts getting violent as well, so they drug him.
He’s not rejecting the brain; the body is taking over from the brain. The strong patient who donated the body’s personality and preferences are coming through. Simon doesn’t like where this is all heading, so he poisons the creature’s food. While the creature is writhing on the floor in pain, Simon goes into the cage. Sarah the mute girl screams and yells “Let him go!” The shock has cured her muteness.
Frankenstein comes back and enters the lab, not realizing the monster has been released from his cage. A while later, the guards see the monster out in the cemetery digging a grave. The director orders the guards to open the armory and kill that thing. It breaks into the director’s office and remembers that the director raped his own daughter, Sarah, and the monster kills him for it.
The guards shoot him twice and the inmates attack him as well. Frankenstein charges in and sends the inmates back to their rooms; the creature, however, is dead. Frankenstein goes back to his lab, already making plans for next time. Simon glares at him, disgusted. The end.
As always, the costumes and sets are amazing. The acting is good, and the story is pretty entertaining as well. The creature is ridiculous and cheap-looking, and definitely detracts from everything else.
This is easily the goriest of the Hammer Frankenstein films, with some very graphic surgery scenes, especially sawing open the professor’s skull and removing the brain. The eyeballs were really well done as well.
I really liked the ending. Frankenstein not only doesn’t die or get run out of town. He’s in the same position as he was in the beginning, but ready to start fresh again. Simon was looking pretty disgusted with the whole thing, but he’s not so far gone that he couldn’t assist once more. Unfortunately, this was the last of Hammer’s Frankenstein films, and Cushing’s as well.
Still, it’s really entertaining. It gets a lot of hate due to the strange monster design, but ignoring that, it was far from the worst Frankenstein film.
#hammer #peter_cushing #frankenstein #BONUS_CONTENT #unposted
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