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With terrific direction by Terence Fisher and an outstanding performance by Peter Cushing, FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED ($20) is undoubtedly one of the premiere entries in the Hammer Frankenstein series. While Cushingís Baron Victor Frankenstein is as cold, calculating and murderous as he has ever been, this film is the first time since CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN that the characterís carnal side surfaces. In one of the filmís most shocking sequences, Frankenstein displays the kind of unthinking animal lust that one would normally associate with one of his earlier failed creations. The plot of FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED finds the Baronís scientific experiments heading in a new direction, since he has already mastered bringing life to bodies he has assembled from bits and pieces of various corpses. Vital to the Baronís latest research is the work of collaborator, Dr. Frederick Brandt (George Pravda), who has become hopelessly insane.

Blackmailing his new landlady Anna Spengler (Veronica Carlson) and her fiancťe Dr. Karl Holst (Simon Ward) into helping him, Frankenstein retrieves Dr. Brandt from the asylum where he is incarcerated. However, before Frankenstein can cure Brandtís insanity, he suffers a heart attack, necessitating that the dying scientistís brain is transplanted into the body of Professor Richter (Freddie Jones). Once cured of his insanity, Brandt awakens to the horror of seeing a face he does not recognize in the mirror and the heartbreak of losing his devoted wife Ella (Maxine Audley), who believes him to be dead at Frankensteinís hands. The cast of FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED also includes Thorley Walters, Geoffrey Bayldon and Colette O'Neil.

Warner Home Video has made FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a truly fine looking presentation of a classic Hammer film from the folks at Warner. The image appears sharp and provides a good level of detail. Colors are very solid, appearing better saturated than they have in past video incarnations. For the most part, the lurid hues seem representative of how an original Technicolor print would have looked. Blacks are deep, while the whites appear stable and the contrast is smooth. The film element used for the transfer is in great shape, showing few signs of age, although a grain structure is noticeable during much of the presentation. Digital compression artifacts are nicely camouflaged throughout.

FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED comes with a perfectly respectable Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. There is a bit more background hiss than one may like, but for the most part, it isnít terribly bothersome. There are the expected limitations in musical fidelity, but James Bernardís score does come across reasonably well. Dialogue is always understandable, although voices can seem a bit raspy at times. A French monaural track has also been provided on the DVD, along with English, French and Spanish subtitles. Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which provide access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer for FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED.

FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED is indeed one of the best outings in the entire Hammer Frankenstein series. Warnerís DVD looks great and offers adequate sound. Despite the sonic imperfections, Hammer fans will want to own this DVD based on the filmís significance and the quality of the visual presentation.



Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1970)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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