Sunday, December 5, 2010
Tales Of Frankenstein!
Having finished up the space opera on the Sci-Fi TV collection, I shifted my attention to the other series and one-shots contained on the disks. I was intrigued by Tales of Frankenstein, a 1958 pilot episode that quick research informed me was not picked up and existed as a single offbeat jewel from the time when I was a mere one year old.
The show starts up pretty dang effectively with a dark stormy night and Frankenstein in the middle of creating his infamous creature. The monster comes to awareness but having the brain of a murderer immediately wants to kill Frankenstein and only a surge of electricity downing the behemoth saves the Baron.
We then cut to the town and a couple who show up. The man, a sculptor is mortally ill and he and his wife have come to seek Frankenstein's help. They knock on his door, but after some polite chatter he rejects their plea, but it seems he might have alternate plans for them. The man dies a few days later, and Frankenstein pays the gravedigger to leave the grave open. Frankenstein wastes little time rummaging around in the grave getting the non-criminal brain he requires.
The wife though discovers the crime and confronts the drunken gravedigger who sends her to Frankenstein. She arrives just in time to meet her husband in his new body, a fact that drives him to a rampage which ultimately takes him to his grave site. She keeps him from killing Frankenstein, but then he casts himself into the grave. Frankenstein begins to cover it over when the cops arrive. But Frankenstein is undeterred and suggests his work is not over.
But it was, as I've said this pilot was not picked up.
The show is only a half-hour, but its brisk and effective for what it was. The acting is pretty good, especially strong is the wife. The only break down in the story was the very end when for reasons that didn't make sense for me, she rejects her husband's new form, apparently realizing that they wished for something they shouldn't have. It should make sense, but I don't buy it somehow given how strong her devotion to him had been and how frank and honest she'd been in the story. She didn't strike me as the kind who would let questions of vanity rule the day so. But I guess the story had to end.
What really blew me away though were the credits. Curt Siodmak was the director of this mini-epic. And the script was by Henry Kuttner and her wife C.L.Moore, all three of these folks science fiction heavyweights. It's to noted also that this was the last year of Kuttner's life and so Tales of Frankenstein must've been among his final projects. With the imprint of Hammer Films on the production, the pedigree of this show is pretty impressive.
The first episode is well worth seeing. And you can do just that by checking out the Youtube embeds below. Enjoy!