THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN. (1942) DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL PICTURES. DIRECTED BY ERLE C. KENTON. PRODUCED BY GEORGE WAGGNER.
STARRING LON CHANEY JR., BELA LUGOSI, CEDRIC HARDWICKE, EVELYN ANKERS, RALPH BELLAMY, LIONEL ATWILL, JANET ANN GALLOW AND OLAF HYTTEN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This is another monster-ific instalment from UNIVERSAL PICTURES, this time featuring Lon Chaney Jr. as Frankenstein’s Monster instead of Boris Karloff, whom you might be more used to seeing in the role.
Come to that, you might be more used to seeing Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man, another member of UNIVERSAL‘s little family of monsters. No Wolf Man in this picture, and no Count Dracula either, just Frankenstein’s big boxy-headed Monster and his minder, Ygor, played by a virtually unrecognisable Bela Lugosi.
I love Lon Chaney Jr. as the Monster, but there’s something very sad and moving about the Monster in every film in which he features, and this film is no exception. Mind you, he hasn’t exactly got much to smile about, has he?
Women run from him screaming in fear, he’s never more than six feet away from an angry mob wielding flaming torches and yelling blue murder and he’s stuck wearing his too-tight Communion suit for the rest of his life. Like I said, not much to smile about, is it…?
In this film, Ygor is eager (Ygor is eager, geddit…?) for Frankenstein’s Monster to be given a new brain to go with his big brawny body. The doctor he expects to perform this miracle of medicine is Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein, the son of the original Dr. Henry Frankenstein, the guy who brought the Monster to life in the first film.
Dr. Ludwig, played by the lovely old Cedric Hardwicke, is reluctant at first but, when Ygor threatens him with exposure (he’ll tell the villagers about Dr. Ludwig’s father, the original Monster-creator, in other words) he has no choice but to come round to the idea.
Dr. Ludwig wants to give old Frankie a good brain, specifically the brain of his own assistant, Dr. Kettering, who’s just been killed by the Monster. Ygor, however, wants his own warped, diseased brain to go into the Monster’s skull, thinking that with his evil smarts and the Monster’s strength, he could end up ruling the world. Well, I guess it’s possible…
Now all Ygor needs is to find a way to get this done. Could Dr. Ludwig’s other assistant, the disgraced Dr. Bohmer, be the weakest link in the chain and therefore easy pickings for the scurrilous Ygor? And if Ygor’s successful in his diabolical mission, is everyone in the village in the most terrible danger…?
The villagers, as always in these great old monster movies, are the very picture of outraged and exceedingly righteous fury as they demand justice from their law-makers. I particularly like Olaf Hytten, who appeared in minor roles in a few of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce SHERLOCK HOLMES films of the 1940s. He plays the father of little Cloestine Hussman, the cute little girl who is the Monster’s only friend and the only person in the whole world who can make him raise a smile.
Evelyn Ankers, who’s played opposite Lon Chaney Jr. in THE WOLF MAN and who also appeared in one of the aforementioned SHERLOCK HOLMES films, is on duty here as the eye-candy, namely the lovely daughter of Dr. Ludwig whom the Monster strangely doesn’t fall in love with this time. Probably because he’s too busy abducting little girls with a view to having their brains removed and put into his own big boxy-looking head, haha.
Cedric Hardwicke is marvellous as the poor beleaguered doctor who just can’t seem to escape his tainted past, as is Lionel Atwill, also a HOLMES actor, as the easily corruptible Dr. Bohmer, and of course Lon Chaney Jr. is infinitely watchable as the Monster, though as I mentioned there’s something very sad and touching about his performance here. I wonder if he was happy in his real life when he made this movie.
The settings are, as always, nicely reminiscent of the ‘mid-European’ locations where the action is meant to take place and, overall, THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN is more than deserving of joining its UNIVERSAL brothers and sisters in the UNIVERSAL PICTURES Monster Movie Hall Of Fame, if there exists such a thing, haha.
It can hold its head up high amongst all the other monster productions of its parent company, in other words, and it’ll live as long as they do in our hearts and minds. Which, if the fans of old classic horror films have their way, will be forever…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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