Wednesday, 14 October 2015


After his somewhat more mellow mood in both The Evil of Frankenstein and Frankenstein Created Woman, the Baron's personality darkened considerably in Fisher's Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969). Perhaps frustrated by his continued failed experiments, Frankenstein has never been more ruthless than in this film. Another fine cast was assembled, including Peter Cushing, Freddie Jones, George Pravda and Simon Ward, but who would be the mistresses of Frankenstein in this episode?

First and foremost was Veronica Carlson, who had just been bitten by Christopher Lee in Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968) and was being touted as 'Hammer's new star discovery.' Aged twenty-four at the time, Carlson had been 'discovered' by Sir James Carreras after a revealing photo shoot for the Sun newspaper.

The statuesque blonde actress had been born in Yorkshire as Veronica Mary Glazer and had spent part of her childhood in Germany, where her father was stationed with the British Army. She later attended Thetford Girls' School  and High Wycome College of Technology and Design, where she studied art and acted in several theatrical productions.

Prior to being spotted by Carreras, Carlson had appeared in the Morecombe and Wise comedy The Magnificent Two (1967) and a movie ironically titled Hammerhead (1968). An episode of The Saint' with Roger Moore in 68 also 'Crossplot' a film, again with Roger Moore also produced in 1969.

As Anna, the keeper of a boarding house where Frankenstein decides to hide out and perform his experiments, Carlson has never been better. One of the best scenes in the film - indeed, in any Frankenstein film - features Anna having to haul a body out of a makeshift grave in a flower garden after a water main has burst. Under Fisher's masterful direction, the scene is as tense as anything in a Hitchcock film, and Anna ends up completely drenched, but successful in transferring the corpse to another hiding place so the police can't find it. It's an extraordinary scene and Carlson is exceptional in it.

The most controversial element of Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed is the inclusion of the infamous rape scene, in which the Baron, overcome by lust, attacks Anna in her bedroom. Included as an afterthought three days before the end of production and apparently demanded by James Carreras by way of Warner Bros, the scene was ultimately cut in the US - by Warner Bros, who had ordered it in the first place!

In her foreword to my book The Hammer Frankenstein, Carlson recalled the incident thusly: 'We were setting the scenes for the morning shoot on Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed when James Carreras made a sudden, dramatic, noisy appearance. High above his head he was brandishing sheets of paper. He snapped angrily, 'I've just been told there's not enough sex in this picture - so here's the new scene that's just been written!' He thrust the papers at Terry, who said simply, 'But we've set the scene of the film - the mood - we've nearly finished shooting!' To no avail. Terry looked through the sheets of paper whilst James Carreras made as sudden and loud a departure as his entrance had been.

'Terry glanced round at us all, looking straight at Peter and myself, then threw the papers into the air and abruptly walked away, leaving the offending scene fluttering, then settling in disarray upon the floor.

'We resolved to shoot that scene, as fans of Hammer know. But I've always felt that it undermined the essence of just what defined "Frankenstein." He was by definition the essence of a truly asexual man, driven single-mindedly in his torment to form an animate creature - especially Man.'

With all due respect to Veronica, whom I've been fortunate enough to call a friend for over 25 years, there was certainly nothing asexual about Frankenstein in The Curse of Frankenstein. He may have ignored his beautiful fiancee, but he had impregnated his maid. The rape scene in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed is not really out of character. Hammer's Baron had been a murderer (and something of a lecher) from the very first film. Now he was a rapist as well. It really wasn't that much of a leap.

The Baron has never been more of a misogynist than he is in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. From the time he first meets her, he treats Anna like chattel. When her boyfriend Karl (Ward) pleads to Frankenstein, 'You don't need Anna,' the Baron sniffs, 'I need her to make coffee!' 

In that context, the rape scene can be seen to make sense as the logical outcome of a master/slave relationship. During the history of the series, Frankenstein has had only one 'normal' relationship with a woman - the one with Justine. But with the maid murdered by his Creature - and by proxy, by Frankenstein himself - the Baron's sex drive has been suppressed in favour of his experiments, making him not only increasingly deranged, but more dangerous and unpredictable as well.

 Warner Brothers 'Horror Classics Volume One' Blu Ray Box Set is 


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