Friday night at the home drive-in: The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)

As I discussed in my #NotQuiteClassicCinema post a while back, my Friday nights at the home drive-in are all about trying to relive the joy of the Not Quite Classic Theatre television show I loved as a teenager. And if there is one phrase that might sum up the contents of that show it would be “old monster movies’. I seem to recall that they screened sequels to movies like Dracula (1931), and The Wolfman (1941) – not the originals, mind you, but their lesser known offspring. The great Hammer films of the 1950s and ’60s would have been a perfect addition to the lineup, but I don’t recall any of them being shown. As a result, my exposure to Hammer films was sadly limited in those days.

I do, however, recall seeing The Evil Of Frankenstein (1964) on late night TV, and it inspired me in the same way as many of the films on Not Quite Classic Theatre. So, I have chosen to include Hammer films in my #NotQuiteClassicCinema library, at the risk of upsetting someone who might rightfully say “but those movies ARE classics!” I agree with you one hundred percent, unknown angry person. But as I said in my initial blog post: “Many of my Friday night choices are movies that I love – some of them are personal favourites of mine.” The hashtag is merely a tribute to the old TV show that I loved so much.

It could also be argued that most of these movies, and perhaps horror and monster movies in general, are often not viewed as “classics” by the mainstream – even though they should be. So perhaps Not Quite Classic could simply mean that the movies are not afforded the same respect as, say, Citizen Kane (1941) or Casablanca (1942). In the glory days of video stores, movies like those would be filed under “Classics”, whereas movies like Frankenstein (1931) and certainly The Evil of Frankenstein would have been filed under “Horror”.

When using old review books to guide me in my rental choices (back in the 1990s), I noticed that some of my favourite movies were only given two and half stars (out of a possible four). The four star movies were often slick and technically flawless; movies that everyone would agree were good. The two and a half star movies, however, were often more unusual. They could be edgier, rougher around the edges, or more challenging in some way. They weren’t always for everyone. But some of them could be a whole lot of fun. And I would find myself re-watching them more often than some of the four star movies. Don’t get me wrong. Many of the four star movies are masterpieces and deserve many repeat viewings. But I find that it’s the movies that aren’t perfect that inspire me the most. So, whenever my favourite review book gave a movie two and half stars, I would think “This might be a movie for me.” And it often was.

Warning sticker put on records (which could have ben put on movies like The Evil Of Frankenstein)So, maybe being Not Quite Classic is a badge of honour – just like warning stickers on old heavy metal records: “This movie might not meet the standards of mainstream approval” – or “This movie might not be suitable for all viewers.” Quite frankly, nothing makes me more suspicious of a movie than universal praise. I’m probably more intrigued if at least one person says “This is the worst movie I’ve ever seen.”

I can’t say that The Evil of Frankenstein is the worst movie I’ve ever seen (not even close – it’s really very good), but I can say that it’s a #NotQuiteClassicCinema favourite – and coming from me, that’s a recommendation.