Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

The villagers aren't satisfied with the destruction of the monster. Now they want to destroy the castle and kill Ygor again (apparently a broken neck and several bullets to the body aren't enough to kill him). Ygor (Bela Lugosi) runs to the laboratory while the castle is being destroyed and discovers the body of the monster (Lon Chaney Jr, this time) still living, encased in sulfur. The monster is weakened but they escape the destruction.

Ygor and his pal decide to make their way to another village where the OTHER son of Frankenstein lives, who apparently lives in Pemberley. Ludwig Frankenstein (Cedric Hardwicke) is a brain specialists. What is it with these people? Anyhow, Ygor decides to blackmail Ludwig into recharging the Monster's batteries, promising to tell everyone of the dark family secret. How the misadventures of the Frankenstein family could still be a secret by the forth movie is a mystery to me.

Anyhow, Ludwig agrees to hear him out and is desperate to isolate his comfy life from the family curse. But this Frankenstein isn't so eager to dabble in the black arts, even though brains is his specialty. Instead he decides to destroy the monster. His colleague, Doctor Bohmer (Lionel Atwill) sees this as murder and refuses to assist. Back story: Dr. Bohmer's scientific reputation was apparently ruined when an experiment went wrong. Sorry, no details other than that.

Then Ludwig gets an idea! What if he put the brain of a recently deceased nice person into the monster's body? That would solve everybody's problems! No more reckless monster. And what luck! He happens to have a dead assistant conveniently lying around with a perfectly good brain. Ygor has a better idea. Put HIS brain into the monster! Then Ygor and Buddy can be one and the same! Frankenstein doesn't like this idea but Ygor convinces Bohmer to go along.

All in all, not a bad movie. Certainly every bit as good as Son of. The weakest part, of course, is old friend Creighton. On the surface he appears to be the perfect choice. Large frame, ugly mug, and bad in the verbal department. But Karloff showed that even when covered with makeup and limited to grunts, real acting skill shows through. Also, they looked much different. The other-worldly stare and hollow cheeks being replaced by Chaney's chubby face and half-baked eyes. This story centered around Ludwig and Ygor for obvious reasons.

Even though Atwill's character didn't die in the last one, he played a very different part here. Ralph Bellamy once again plays a cop in search of a monster played by Chaney. Apparently filming started right after The Wolf Man wrapped. Karloff didn't return because he was appearing on Broadway and had no interest in reprising the role. He would later have a role in House of.

One thing that might be missing is the Gothic scenery. The Evil laboratory, the creepy castle, the desolate grave yard. A lower budget made concessions and we have a nice house, a surgical operating room, and a courthouse.

One plot point has the monster befriending a small girl. This gave him a level of humanity to audiences of the day, but seemed a little creepy in this age. I'll leave that one right there. AMRU 3.5.

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