You do NOT have to hit me in the head with things so when I found out that Today is not only the birthday of Lon Chaney Jr. from THE WOLFMAN but also of Hazel Court who starred in THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, THE RAVEN, THE PREMATURE BURIAL and THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN I knew it was time to start my postponed series on the Hammer movies.
Originally I just wanted to do a quick post with the third issue of George Perez´ LOGAN`S RUN since I have slept almost the whole day after pulling an all - nighter just so I could deliver the necessary documents for the Job Agency in time but as usual the universe had other plans for this post. I really thought my first post in this series would be about DOCTOR WHO VERSUS DRACULA but I guess we will have to save that for another time.
The upside of this is that I have already prepared most of the stuff I´m going to need for the post as a series of posts about the Hammer movies I have watched since around Christmas last year has long been in the pipeline. Unlike the stuff for the post about Bruce Timm, who celebrated his 55th birthday two days ago. I started to prepare for writing the post but as usual his artwork was scattered over various folders and halfway through looking for them I realized that I would not finish with that in time to do a post on his birthday. Maybe I can do a post in the next days but until then here is an homage he did on the famous Hammer movies.
Now I have seen all of the movies I mentioned above but because it has been to long since I have seen the first three movies and only the last one is still fresh in my memory ( and because all the material I prepared is from that movie ) I will concentrate on THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN or like I like to call the movie BARON FRANKENSTEIN DOESN`T SOCIALIZE.
Because that´s one of things why Victor Frankenstein ( played by Peter Cushing in this movie ) has so many problems : he´s only concerned about his work with no interest in anything else - including his cousin Elizabeth portrayed by Hazel Court who understandably rose to fame with this movie thanks to one of the most incredible cleavages in movie history.
Which took me completely by surprise because I had no idea about Hazel Court´s status as a scream queen and that a lot of her roles hinged on her big pair of lung´s ability to scream in horror loudly and fill out a cleavage.
Unlike in most of her movies ( where she took the other major female roles besides the sweet vulnerable heroine, typically regal - looking women with a sensational body who are dominated by the powerful, sadistic men they love ) here she plays a really likeable and innocent character. So you don´t expect her to go into full cleavage mode.
And because when she first appears in the movie she doesn´t look like this ultimate sex vixen. In fact she is covered from head to toe and while she sure looks like a classy lady you can only guess what lies underneath.
Now you might think why it should matter if Baron von Frankenstein is ignoring his cousin but the thing is he plans on marrying Elizabeth. And before you cry out I want to mention that this is not as socially frowned upon in the time period the movie takes place as it would be Today.
THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN - which first paired Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee - came out in 1957 and the events of the movie are supposed to take place hundred years earlier in 1857. A time when pre - arranged marriages were the rule. As were marriages between relatives in noble families because of their widespread offspring. In many cases it were very distant relatives like the fourth or fifth cousin twice removed.
They did that to stay in their own elite circle without having to deal with disgusting peasants and to ensure their real estate and properties were preserved for future generations. In any case a name like Baron Victor von Frankenstein clearly indicates nobility and the marriage between them is something that is expected since he financially supported her part of the family for decades. And if you think that sounds like buying a wife, well, that was the rule back then. Their role in society has changed a lot since then but around 1857 girls were raised mainly to be married off rich, a fact that is hinted at in the first scene with the young Elizabeth.
Which is at the beginning of the flashback that starts with the burial of Victor´s mother leaving him the sole heir - and the one responsible for financial supporting his aunt and her daughter Elizabeth. After the service Victor hires Paul Krempe ( played by Robert Urquhart ) as his private teacher, who later on becomes his partner in his scientific endeavors.
They start innocently enough with the restoration of life but soon this philanthropic goal is cast aside and Frankenstein starts to delve into creating his own life form. And Paul Krempe starts questioning if they should cross these moral boundaries because when you start stealing body parts from hanged criminals you know it is only going to end badly.
His concerns are mounting and he is ready to leave Victor to his own devices when Elizabeth enters the picture. Paul is quite smitten with her and after he tries to convince her to leave the house in vain ( since he won´t disclose just which kind of experiments Victor really is conducting ) he decides to stay so he can make sure nothing happens to her. Victor on the other hand is too busy with the experiments neglecting Elizabeth and getting it on with the hired help which is another thing that goes through all Frankenstein movies I have seen. And which quite frankly threw me for a loop in this one since I don´t understand why he is giving it to the maid when he has a hot fox like Hazel Court available who is willing and able. In other movies the motivation is that he doesn´t want to be burdened with marriage when he can get the milk for free but he is all set to marry Elizabeth anyway and it doesn´t look like she plans on shirking her marital obligations either. In fact she often tries to lure him into her bedroom to which he reacts in a way I can´t really understand.
Like somebody said about Reed Richards : for such a brilliant man he can be quite stupid sometimes. Which would be okay if you knew he really had no idea how hot she was but you really ask yourself if he doesn´t fully realize her sex appeal since he uses her as bait in her bust out scene.
At this point I was still watching the movie but I had already given up hope on seeing any Länderpunkte even though the Hammer movies are quite famous for the sultry and revealing vixens that star in it. I knew that the maid was not going to provide anything in that department.
So Victor Frankenstein is assembling his body parts and Paul is asking him where he is going to find a brain that is brilliant enough for his creation.
Next thing you know Victor has invited the greatest scientific mind of his time period Professor Bernstein for dinner where Elizabeth appears in a dress with an incredible cleavage that is sure to blow your socks off !
And this shot doesn´t do it justice. You have to see it from different angles to really appreciate how little of Hazel Court´s stunning anatomy this dress leaves to the imagination especially when leaning forward.
She´s partially topless for Heaven´s sake and you know right from the start that Professor Bernstein is the real genius here because he tells Frankenstein right away that he has to spend less time in the laboratory and pay more attention to a hot tomato like his future wife Elizabeth.
Ah, if only Victor would be more open to Elizabeth´s charms. As it is Paul arrives unexpectedly and he´s very surprised that Victor has a guest who is no less such a scientific expert. He has no idea that his old pal Victor is going for the age old one two punch of distracting a guy with them boobs while arranging a little accident to cut open his head and put his brain into a patchwork body. Well, maybe the part with stealing the brain and using it for some scientific aberrations is not as common as the boobs distraction part but never underestimate the power of a good, firm pair.
After Professor Bernstein ( who has an unmistakable german accent in the english language version ) has met his timely demise Frankenstein pays for the burial as the upstanding citizen he is - and because he so gains access to the Professor´s brain. He is surprised by Peter Krempe who tries to stop him and in the ensuing struggle the brain is damaged.
But Frankenstein´s motto is waste not, want not so he uses the brain anyway. As one can expect this doesn´t lead to the expected results and when his foul creation first regains consciousness it tries to kill him. Thankfully Peter is at hand to help him overpower it and Frankenstein promises to destroy the monster but only after he has performed an autopsy to substantiate his theories. Of course he will do this the next day and before that can happen the monster escapes and kills a blind man. Victor and Paul hunt the monster down and Paul shoots it in the head. They bury the monster and Paul is glad that the nightmare is over but you already know that Frankenstein is going to dig it up again.
At this point the maid who Victor is giving it to instead of his hot fiancee decides it´s a good time to blackmail him into marrying her and threatens to expose what he has been doing in his lab but she only achieves to end up as monster food. I guess this was her sole purpose from the beginning.
With that obstacle out of the way a big wedding is taking place at the mansion but Elizabeth´s hopes of a romantic wedding night are crushed.
You think he could make an exception on this day especially after Elizabeth went to all the trouble of making herself presentable with another stunning dress that displays her breast ... I mean best features.
Thankfully Peter - who is a subscriber to the old saying better late than never - arrives in the nick of time and is much more appreciative of her feminine charms. While he is burning with desire for her luscious body Elizabeth prods him to join Victor in the laboratory since he mentioned a few days ago that there would be something he wanted to show Peter.
Which is of course the monster which Victor has " fixed " and which now - at least - obeys his every command. Peter and Victor start an argument about whose fault it is that what was planned as the perfect specimen turned into such a massive failure during which they leave the house and the monster ends up all alone in the laboratory. Which in turn is the moment when Elizabeth decides it´s time to find out once and for all what´s going on in her husband´s lab that so much more alluring than her.
Naturally the monster has escaped again by the time Elizabeth finally makes it to the lab so she finds nothing but Frankenstein´s weird scientific equipment which makes me wonder if they really gave the monster the brain of Professor Bernstein or the brain of Harry Houdini with the times he has already escaped in the movie up to this point.
Now most of the pictures you find online of Hazel from the movie are from this scene because it contains everything that is essential to what we now call " gothic horror " : the beautiful heroine ( preferably with an ample bosom and wearing a beautiful dress with a generous cleavage ) wandering through a haunted mansion or castle with a gas light in hand trying to unravel the big mystery with danger lurking behind every corner.
It´s the quintessential motif and you can find it in most horror movies, horror comics, horror novels down to the cheapest pulp dime novels.
And Hazel Court ( who originally was the first choice for Diana Rigg´s part in THE AVENGERS ) looks just absolutely fantastic in this scene.
For those still keeping tabs on the story Elizabeth has a run in with the monster who attacks her and while Paul decides it´s high time to get out of Dodge Victor manages to destroy his creation by burning it - after trying to shoot it and accidentally wounding Elizabeth in the process.
With this we end the flashback and wind up where the movie began : in Victor Frankenstein´s prison cell where he awaits his execution for the murder of Justine, the maid which was killed by the monster. Which looks nothing like the Frankenstein monster we know from movies or comics.
Paul drops by for a last visit but instead of verifying Victor´s story and therefore confess his complicity in illegal experiments he decides to let Elizabeth enjoy the till death do us part section of her marriage vows, probably the only part of her marriage with Victor she´s going to enjoy.
So there´s definitely a moral here as the guy who was more interested in the girl than playing with dead body parts gets the girl in the end while the guy who was too busy to get busy hangs from the end of a noose.
This ends my review of THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, which was Hazel Court´s first Hammer production and one of her best movies. At least as far as I can say without having seen all the others she made. But based on what I could find on the internet it really is and if you haven´t seen it you really should check it out. I thought about getting it from amazon but all the Hammer movies are only available in a censored version in Germany.
Usually I like to include the biography in my cult siren posts but since I would just be paraphrasing anyway I´m going to leave that for the link section where you can find more infos about Hazel Court. This post is long enough as it is anyway. So let´s start with Jim Lowe at VOT DER DUMBOOZLE ?, The Popular Excavation Site who not only has a biography on Hazel Court but everything else you might need like pictures and an exhaustive filmography. Naturally Hazel Court has her own entry on the CULT SIRENS website and there is a very detailed orbituary at THE INDEPENDENT . THE PETER CUSHING BLOG has That Feminine Touch : Women in Gothic which is all about Hazel Court and Valerie Gaunt ( she plays the maid in The Curse of Frankenstein ) and Terry Blass at TEMPLE OF SCHLOCK even has an interview with Hazel conducted in April 1996.
Michael Arruda at his self - named blog has an entry on Hazel Court that speaks in detail about her role in The Curse of Frankenstein and offers a quick rundown of her horror movie appearances with short commentaries which really was most helpful and you can read a longer review of that movie on MAGAZINES AND MONSTERS ! where you can also find posts on CAPTAIN AMERICA , DOCTOR STRANGE , THE PHANTOM STRANGER , THE DEMON and other Bronze Age comics. There´s also another review on CINEMATIC CHATHARSIS and Tim Lucas at VIDEO WATCHBLOG has a post on Jimmy Sangster, the Stan Lee of Silver Age horror who wrote scripts for The Curse of Frankenstein and other classic Hammer horror movies.
The movie is also featured as one of the best Hammer movies in CINEMANERDZ History of Hammer Films and Sarah Lorraine at FROCK FLICKS takes a look at the costumes in The Masque of The Red Death about which a critic once wrote " the sexy, busty redhead Juliana is played by the English actress, Hazel Court,
in whose cleavage you could sink the entire works of Edgar Allan Poe and
a bottle of his favorite booze at the same time " so be sure to check it out in the video section of this post.
Last but not least I have to mention the COMBATSIM FORUM which is where I found the picture at the top of this post, they also has a brief bio of Miss Court. Thanks to all of the above for providing information.
We start the videos with another cult classic from Hazel Court´s oeuvre DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS. I never know, is it science fiction or still horror ?
Who is definitely horror is Stephen King, an open admirer of Hazel Court who mentioned her in books like Danse Macabre - among others - and I wanted to post this for quite some time before it vanishes from YouTube.
Today is also the 86th birthday of Robert Wagner who is best known to Today´s audiences as the wheelin´, dealin´, styling and profiling Dad of Anthony DiNozzo on the hit show NCIS while my generation knew him from HART TO HART where he starred alongside sexbomb Stefanie Powers.
It´s where most people my age first heard the phrase : " Hello Sailor. " but Robert Wagner also starred in one of my favorite comic adaptions PRINCE VALIANT. There have been many movie and cartoon adaptions since but for me this is the one that stayed most faithful to Hal Foster´s creation up to the " singing sword " in the swashbuckling scene below.
If you haven´t seen the Prince Valiant movie you can do so on YouTube .
And speaking about watching movies on YouTube here´s The Masque of The Red Death with Hazel Court´s finest performance as promised.
While looking for material on Hazel Court I found the serial Hampton Wick from the british tv show The Two Ronnies. I don´t know who the actress in this is but she has the right prospects to star in a Hammer production.
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