The Curse of Frankenstein (lost acid bath scene footage of Hammer horror film; 1957)

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Theatrical poster for The Curse of Frankenstein.

Status: Lost

The Curse of Frankenstein is a horror film produced by Hammer Films in 1957. It was written by Jimmy Sangster (The Six Million Dollar Man, McCloud) and is loosely based on the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. The movie stars Christopher Lee (Horror of Dracula, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour) as the Creature and Peter Cushing (The Hound of the Baskervilles, Tales From the Crypt) as Victor Frankenstein. The Curse of Frankenstein is notable for being the starting point for Hammer Films' line of classic horror films, nearly mirroring the scenarios and success of Universal Studios' own line of horror films and cementing Hammer's name in classic cinema. The film differs greatly from Universal's Frankenstein (starring Boris Karloff as the Creature), most likely due to action from Universal itself, but neither film can be considered a truly accurate adaptation of Mary Shelley's work as both take several liberties in the main story and its characters. It is believed that Hammer was urged to make their Creature as different from Universal's iconic Creature as possible.


Upon his mother's death, Victor Frankenstein is granted sole control of his family's estate. Using his newfound wealth, he hires a tutor for himself known as Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart). Though reluctant at first, Krempe teaches Victor all he knows and the two successfully perform an unnatural act of reviving a deceased dog. While Krempe wants to use their newfound knowledge to assist in major surgery, keeping patients alive with minimum strain on the body, Victor wants to take his experiments to the next step: creating an entirely new human being from parts of the deceased. The two begin to quarrel with each other as Victor's experiments reach their full potential. Victor successfully creates a new human being, commonly referred to as 'the Creature'.

The Acid Bath Scene

When Victor acquires the body that he plans to build his creature upon, he finds that the head has been pecked intensely by the crows and deems it unfit to use. Using a small knife he proceeds to cut the head off of the body, and carry it over to a large vat of acid. He dips the head in the acid, allowing it to sink deep inside. The film cuts away shortly after Victor places the head into the acid, leaving only a bubbling sound to imply that this is what is taking place. In the original theatrical release of the film, a brief shot actually depicting the prop head (produced by Phil Leakey) being dissolved by the acid was shown. [1][2]The shot was cut and replaced with a quick shot of Frankenstein's face as the bubbling sound plays. The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) supposedly felt that this scene was too morbid, and had the scene cut from the film in all subsequent airings in both theaters and on television. This missing shot is believed to have actually been cut from the original film, and may no longer actually exist.[3] It is believed that this very scene is what granted the film an X certification.

Additionally, Patrick Troughton had a brief role as a mortuary attendant, but his scenes were cut from the final film, and, much like many of his Doctor Who appearances, remain missing to this day.

Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) holding the prop head shortly before dipping it into the acid bath.

See Also