Quote of the Day: Frankenstein On The Buses

where's my script? 

‘The only copy in existence of the FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED script was on the top deck of a London bus. It was unaccompanied.

‘Bert Batt, who had just completed his first draft, had gone to visit Tony Keys at his home in Twickenham in West London. Being a non-driver, he had had to go by public transport to the appointed stop. Within seconds he realized what he’d left on a seat, but already the bus was making good its getaway. Hurrying to Tony’s house, he blurted out the bad news. Into ANK’s car they piled, and the chase was on. Wonderful suspense. Each corner they rounded, they prayed the bus would come into sight. If only they could overtake it, Bert could leap from the car and re-board at the next stop… Apparently, the hard work of four months was eventually retrieved at the bus depot at the end of the run.’

~ From Rungs on a Ladder, Hammer Films Seen Through a Soft Gauze by Christopher Neame.

Frying tonight!

I’m struck by the fact that, then as now, when the producer has a car and the writer doesn’t, it is the writer who must travel to the producer’s house.

With its hilariously clunky, lame title and best-behaviour prose style, this is rather a sweet book, with many insights into the haphazard way Hammer did business. Scripts were written by whoever was around, and Neame shamefacedly confesses to conning extras out of their overtime by turning the clock back. Everything is just as shoddy as you could wish.

See what's on the slab

Shadowplay’s next big project is to spend a week watching and writing about all five Terrence Fisher FRANKENSTEIN flicks. Watch this space!


10 Responses to “Quote of the Day: Frankenstein On The Buses”

  1. I consider them all to be one complete work — a serial like Fantomas or Out 1.

    Frankenstein Created Woman is my favorite — for the sublime title alone. Marty Scorsese likes it too.

  2. But shouldn’t it be AND Frankenstein Created Woman?

    I do recall it being one of the best.

  3. In one of the two Hammer documentaries I watched last week (THE STUDIO THAT DRIPPED BLOOD and FLESH AND BLOOD: THE HAMMER HERITAGE OF HORROR) I think it’s Jimmy Sangster who claims that there was no point in writing good dialogue as “the actors change it all anyway.” It seemed to turn out all right!

    I’m on a bit of a Hammer kick at the moment too – I was planning to do the same exercise with the Frankenstein and the Dracula films, and getting the big Hammer box set has given me all the excuse that I needed to get the films to do that.

    One question: Why just the Fisher Hammer Frankensteins? There are only two more, and EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN is by Freddie Francis!

  4. The Fisher Frankensteins actually make sense in sequence — you can fill in any elipses without difficulty, and you get a functioning saga.

    Horror of F features Ralph Bates as Dr. F, so that’s obviously not part of the same sequence. And Evil of F goes all out to destroy any continuity, even featuring an incredibly prolonged flashback that offers a completely different version of the first monster’s creation. So even though it stars Cushing, it’s obviously not part of the sequence.

    It’s also written by Carreras Jnr, I think, a talentless writer. Sangster’s dialogue may have been thick-eared, but at least he had a fair grasp of structure. Carreras’ first instinct is generally to start with the protagonists being BORN, then hang around until something interesting happens. (See Creatures the World Forgot if you don’t believe me).

    So by all means watch Horror and Evil, but keep them out of sequence, they’ll just get in the way otherwise.

    The Dracula films don’t really hang together as well as the Franks, and have multiple writers and dorectors from early on, but you can SORT OF imagine a continuity. After the first outing (and the excellent Brides) I actually like the 70s-set ones best! Don’t tell Mr. Lee.

  5. Thanks for the tips – the only one that I’m missing at the moment is EVIL anyway, so I’ll be able to play along! Though I’ve seen a great chunk of Hammer’s output, I’ve only ever dipped in and out of the Frankensteins and Draculas, because I’ve still haven’t seen the original entries. I look forward to changing all that.

    I don’t think Mr Lee needs any encouragement to get upset. One of the documentaries on the Hammer set is basically him complaining about various slights that he feels have been done to him over the years. All the moaning sounds really odd in THAT VOICE. Still, he’s such a great presence in a movie. Things seem to rearrange around him.

    The seventies Draculas are very dear to me. SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA was the first Hammer film I saw as a child, recorded by my Dad as “something you might like.” The all out 70’s Hammer barrage of blood’n’kink was certainly to my taste, though I’m pretty sure that he hadn’t known about the sacrifice that takes place throughout the first third of the film! I watched that again a couple of weeks ago (Twinned on DVD with Horror Express!) and it was still loads of fun.

    My dad also recorded Herzog’s Nosferatu and showed that to 9 year old me, breaking me for life.

  6. Wow, what a dad! My parents practically staged a family conference to decide if I should be allowed to see Dracula AD 1972! I guess I was ten or so. They were lucky it didn’t turn out to be Satanic Rites.

    My friend Robert has introduced his 10-year-old to all George Romero’s zombie films.

    Love Horror Express, what a great plot! Plus a cossack Savalas.

  7. Horror Express also features the best line of Peter Cushing’s CAREER, when he is asked if either he or Lee might be possessed by the monster:

    “Monster? We’re British, you know!”

  8. Michael Says:

    I am a veteran watcher of Hammer Horror and it has always been, in my opinion that the title: FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED, is one of the greatest movie titles in all of film history. Leave it to Hammer to make such a declarative statement and then have this remarkable motion picture live up to it’s words….(of course, if only in desire). Call it wishful in thinking or mere british tongue in cheek. The title on all of those promotional posters tested our soul and secretly made us wish against that plea. We had no desire to see this “Frank” enstein destoyed now or any other time.
    Long live Cushing and Long live Hammer Horror films.

  9. Check out my posts for Frankenstein Week, where I watched all the Cushing Hammer Frankenstein’s in order (but WHICH order?)

    I like Frankenstein Created Woman as a title, but feel it should have been “AND Frankenstein Created Woman…” and they should have bitten the bullet and hired Bardot.

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