Frankenstein 1970

Frankenstein 1970 is a 1958 science fiction horror film, starring Boris Karloff and Don ‘Red’ Barry. This independent film was directed by Howard W. Koch, and its alternative titles were Frankenstein 1960 and Frankenstein 1975. Released on a low budget, the film was originally intended to be named Frankenstein 1960 but it did not sound futuristic enough. In October 2009, Warner Brothers released the DVD “Karloff & Lugosi Horror Classics” which includes Frankenstein 1970 as one of the four films and features an audio commentary by co-star Charlotte Austin and historians Tom Weaver and Bob Burns.


This project was proposed because of the success of the “Shock Theatre” package of Universal horror films released to television. The other contributing factors were the recent successes of the British-made The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and the low-budget American International release I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957). This low-budget film had the advantage of being shot in CinemaScope.

This film was originally going to be entitled “Frankenstein 1960” but it didn’t sound futuristic enough. It was also thought to be too far fetched that an independent researcher could obtain his own atomic reactor in 1960.


Producer Aubrey Schenck had hoped to get the film released by Warner Brothers but had to settle for Allied Artists. Previously, movies produced by Schenck’s Bel-Air films, like “The Black Sleep,” had been released by United Artists.


The interiors were part of a set on Warner’s Stage Three, which had been constructed for the Errol Flynn-Dorothy Malone film “Too Much, Too Soon.” In addition, the budget conscious Schenck used cinematographer Carl Guthrie from the earlier film because his experience with the set allowed him to light the scenes quickly.


The film was scheduled for 8 shooting days and was completed on time. (1-9-58 to 1-20-58) Karloff worked all 8 days.


It was originally planned to include a ceramic bust of Karloff in all scenes where he was working on the monster, but that ultimately did not work out.


The black statuette from “The Maltese Falcon” was used by the Warner prop department to dress the set.


Although her husband Douglas Row (Don Barry) has apparently lost interest in wife Judy Stevens (Charlotte Austin) in favor of actress Carolyn Hayes (Jana Lund), Lund was actually 3 months older than Austin.


The original pitch for this production referred to it as “Frankenstein’s Castle.”


Dr. Frankenstein’s ancestor, who originally began work on the monster in 1740 is referred to as Richard. Previous films usually called him Victor or Henry.


Real life Chicago talk show host Tom Duggan played a role in the film and invited Charlotte Austin and Donald Barry on his show to give the film a publicity boost. Unfortunately both actors had a few drinks prior to going on camera and proceeded to belittle the film’s quality, much to Duggan’s chagrin.


Filed under: Horror

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