Film Review - The Ghost of Frankenstein

Starring - Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Ralph Bellamy | Directed by Erle C. Kenton | Happiness DVD FF Not Rated 69min 1942

Review By Xmortis

The fourth film in Universal's Frankenstein series comes to a single DVD release from Happiness Entertainment and is just a solid port of the print used on the Universal Box set. So let's see how the bring the Monster back this time!

After the events of Son of Frankenstein, the villagers are still spooked over the monster and the missing body of Ygor and go after the cursed Frankenstein castle to blow it up. They do so with Ygor still inside, but as he flees he finds the body of the Monster in the bowels of the castle under sulfur. As they stumble out the Monster is struck by lightning and gains some of his power back. Ygor leads the Monster on a quest to find Frankenstein's other son, Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein, to get him to charge the Monster back to full power. They get to town and the Monster is the talk of town as he helps a young girl get her ball off a roof and kills any man foolish enough to get in his way. As he brings the child down, the police rush him. Erik goes to Ludwig and asks if he can take a look at the Monster that is in chains at the local jail. Ygor also comes to visit and wants the Monster to be freed and uses a little blackmail to get his way. In the courtroom Ludwig acts as if he doesn't know the Monster, which makes him go crazy and escape his chains as Ygor and him escape via a wagon. Ludwig and his daughter Elsa get home as the heavy storm rolls in and are attacked by The Monster who is tricked and gassed by the good doctor. Ludwig captures the Monster and wants to kill it, when the ghost of his father comes to him and wants his son to change the Monster's brain. Ludwig wants to place the brain of a fallen friend into the Monster but Ygor wants his own placed into the brute's body. The Monster kills Ygor and once more finds the little girl from the village and wants her brain instead, but Ludwig confronts him, steals the child away and tricks him into going into surgery. Ygor 's brain is placed in the Monster's head as the townspeople come to kill the beast. Ygor in the monsters body is able to speak and turns on Ludwig as the townspeople break in and come to kill the monster and doctor both. Ygor turns on the gas and kills some of the people as the rest run away in fear for their lives. The house catches fire as the Monster looses its eyesight after the surgery. The Monster and Ludwig burn alive, as Erik and Elsa walk away into the night.

The Monster walks again for the fourth time and with the second actor to put the bolts into his neck. This time Lon Chaney Jr. plays the monster, and while the role has no dialogue, Chaney just wasn't the right choice to play the hulking brute. He seems too small and chubby to play the Monster properly. Sir Cedric Hardwicke plays Ludwig Frankenstein, the second son to Henry Frankenstein, and does so with such sophistication that he almost does come off as a hero in the end. Evelyn Ankers plays Elsa Frankenstein, Ludwig's Daughter, a big part of this film's plot. While she shows some good acting chops though this character was perfected in the next film in the series by Ilona Massey. This time around the plot is more about the Monster and Ygor's friendship and how the hunchback Ygor wants to use his dead friend's brute body for is own gain. But the odd thing about it is that the Monster wants the brain of a little girl. Is the Monster really a woman trapped in a man's body? The film holds that classic Universal Monster feel with its fake sets, overdone sound effects and over the top acting. While the Universal Frankenstein series was starting to lose steam by this installment, this film added a nice build up for the next film Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman and was a nice follow up to Son of Frankenstein. Over all Ghost of Frankenstein is a classic Universal Horror film and is worth every wonderful minute of viewing. It's a shame that Karloff didn't put the bolts back on because it would have been nice to have had him in all four of the solo Frankenstein films from Universal. I should also note that this film also seems a slight bit heartless compared to the other films before it. I am not saying it was a bad film, it just seemed those who made it didn't have the story and characters as motivation. I think money was.

The DVD has some extras that include the original trailer, chapter selections and subtitles. The cover on this release is terrible and is just blown up stills of the first Frankenstein film.

While the weakest in the Frankenstein series, this fourth film was still a nice film in the adventures of the monster that had some chills and thrills. So if you love classic horror and love watching black and white Universal Monster films then this is one that should be in your collection.

This marks the end of the solo Frankenstein films and lead into the monster mash up films that started with the next film in our series retrospective, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man. So get ready for a howling good time!