Lost Reels' series of classics, curios and forgotten gems on 16mm continues with a Halloween Special featuring a rare screening of Terence Fisher’s elegiac gothic horror, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell and a conversation with lead actress Madeline Smith.
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974), directed by Terence Fisher. Colour. Cert 15. 95 minutes.
The last of Hammer’s Frankenstein films, director Terence Fisher’s swansong, and Peter Cushing’s final turn as the Baron, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974) was Hammer’s last stand in its classic, trademark gothic horror style. Eschewing the titillation and nudity prevalent through much of their 1970s period, the film instead echoes the studio’s illustrious past, rejecting the influences of modern American horror filmmaking with which it was increasingly - and unsuccessfully - competing. Released in the UK in the same month as The Exorcist (1974), the attempt proved futile, and despite its technical excellence and a brilliant performance by Cushing, the film was considered a disappointment. Set in the desperate confines of a lunatic asylum, Frankenstein (Cushing) now posing as “Dr. Victor” the asylum doctor, continues his experiments with the help of a new inmate and acolyte, Dr. Helder (Shane Briant) and his mute assistant, Sarah (Madeline Smith). With a supporting cast of Hammer stalwarts including David Prowse, Patrick Troughton, David Stratton, Sydney Bromley, and in a moving cameo, Bernard Lee, the reputation of Fisher’s final project continues to grow, and it is now considered one of Hammer’s finest latter-day achievements. The gloomy, elegiac tone, considered a handicap upon initial release, now seems entirely fitting - even essential – with Hammer historian and author Marcus Hearn observing, “Terence Fisher’s haunting, melancholy swansong would be an epitaph for Hammer horror itself.”
16mm print courtesy of Lost Reels.
A conversation with Madeline Smith
Madeline Smith is an actress and model who rose to prominence in film and television in the 1970s and appeared in three Hammer horror films: Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), The Vampire Lovers (1971) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974). In the same period, she appeared in Roddy McDowall’s directorial debut, The Ballad of Tam Lin (1970) and Douglas Hickox’s cult black comedy Theatre of Blood (1973) with Vincent Price. Her other film work in the 70s included the film adaptation of Up Pompeii (1972) with Frankie Howerd, the film version of the classic children’s ghost story, The Amazing Mr. Blunden (1972) directed by Lionel Jefferies, and her role as Miss Caruso in the first Roger Moore Bond film, Live and Let Die (1973). Madeline was also a frequent face on British television, appearing in many popular comedy and drama series including, The Persuaders!, The Two Ronnies, Crown Court, Steptoe and Son, and the BBC adaptation of The Pickwick Papers. Most recently, Madeline played a cameo role in Mark Gatiss’ TV remake of The Amazing Mr. Blunden in 2021.
Special thanks to Madeline Smith for her support and participation.
The 16mm print used for this screening was formerly used for US Television broadcast and a number of cuts were made to make the film more "family friendly". The following short video, "Blood, Brains and Eyeballs" presents a comparison between this US TV version and the complete uncensored version now available on DVD.