Where Hammer's previous Frankenstein films were concerned with the physical aspects of the Baron's work, the interest here is in the metaphysical dimensions of life, such as the question of the soul, and its relationship to the body.
A man is taken from a cart and taunts the police and the priest escorting him. He is sentenced to death by the guillotine for murder. From the place of execution, the man sees his son, Hans, and begs that he should not see him die. The priest approaches the boy but Hans runs away. The priest returns to the last rites. From a distance, Hans watches as his father is positioned under the blade. He yells, "Papa!" Then the blade falls, and Hans flees.
Years later, Hans Werner (Robert Morris) is working as an assistant to Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing), helped by Dr Hertz (Thorley Walters) who is in the process of discovering a way of trapping the soul of a recently deceased person. Frankenstein believes he can transfer that soul into another recently deceased body to restore it to life.
Hans is now also the lover of Christina (Susan Denberg), daughter of innkeeper Herr Kleve. Christina's entire left side is disfigured and partly paralysed. Young dandies Anton (Peter Blythe), Johann (Derek Fowlds) and Karl (Barry Warren) frequent Kleve's inn where they taunt Christina and refuse to pay. Johann threatens to have his father revoke Kleve's license if he complains. The three insist that they be served by Christina and mock her for her deformities. The taunting angers Hans, who gets in a fight with the three of them and cuts Anton's face with a knife.
Eventually Kleve throws the dandies out for non-payment. They return in the night to steal wine from his inn. Kleve catches them and they beat him to death. Hans, the son of a murderer known for his short temper, is convicted. Despite the Baron and Hertz's defences against the accusations, Hans is executed by the guillotine, much to Anton, Johann and Karl's delight. Seeing this as an opportunity, Frankenstein gets hold of Hans' fresh corpse and traps his soul.
Distraught over Hans's death and feeling the guilt for not defending him, Christina drowns herself by jumping off a bridge. The peasants bring her body to Dr Hertz to see if he can do anything. Frankenstein and Hertz transfer Hans' soul into her body. Over months of complex and intensive treatment, they completely cure her physical deformities. The result is a physically healthy female with no memory. She keeps asking who she is. Frankenstein insists on telling her nothing but her name and keeping her in Hertz's house. Though she comes to her senses of who she is, Christine is taken over by the spirit of the vengeful Hans.
She kills Anton, and Karl driven mostly by the ghostly insistence of Hans. Frankenstein and Dr. Hertz become rather suspicious of her behaviour surrounding the killings and take her to where Hans was executed. However, they believe she subconsciously retains her memories of her father's death rather than Hans. By the time they realise the truth, they find her already murdering Johann. Upon holding the severed head of Hans, the ghostly voice tells Christina she's avenged his death; though before either one can talk to her, she runs to the edge of a waterfall. Despite the Baron's pleas of telling her identity, Christina's mind has already been made up. She has no one left to live for, and so drowns herself again. Frankenstein walks silently away...Peter Cushing as Baron Victor Frankenstein
Susan Denberg as Christina
Thorley Walters as Doctor Hertz
Robert Morris as Hans
Peter Blythe as Anton
Derek Fowlds as Johann
Duncan Lamont as The Prisoner (Hans' Father)
Barry Warren as Karl
Alan MacNaughtan as Kleve
Peter Madden as Chief of Police
Philip Ray as Mayor
Ivan Beavis as Landlord
Colin Jeavons as Priest
Bartlett Mullins as Bystander
Alec Mango as Spokesman
Frankenstein Created Woman was originally mooted as a follow-up to The Revenge of Frankenstein during its production in 1958, at a time when Roger Vadim's Et Dieu créa la femme (And God Created Woman) was successful. The film finally went into production at Bray Studios on 4 July 1966. It was Hammer's penultimate production there.
Leonard Maltin is blunt: "everything goes wrong, including script." Halliwell's Film and Video Guide describes this film as a crude and gory farrago" while the Time Out Film Guide says it is full of cloying Keatsian imagery which somehow transcends the more idiotic aspects of the plot."
Some commentators on Frankenstein Created Woman have been more positive. Martin Scorsese picked the movie as part of a 1987 National Film Theatre season of his favourite films, saying "If I single this one out it's because here they actually isolate the soul... The implied metaphysics are close to something sublime." The film currently holds 60% on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Frankenstein Created Woman" was released in October 2013 in the U.K. and on 28 January in the U.S.A. Each disc featured a restored version of the film, the episodes of "World of Hammer" episodes included on the DVD released by Anchor Bay over a decade before. Among the highlights is an audio commentary with actors, Robert Morris and Derek Fowlds, moderated by Hammer expert Jonathan RigbyRigby, Jonathan, (2000). English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-903111-01-3. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)