m  i  k  e  h  u  m  b  e  r  t  .  c  o  m

presents

F R A N K E N S T E I N :

THE MONSTER'S EIGHT APPEARANCES IN THE CLASSIC

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HORROR FILMS

OF THE 1930s AND 1940s.

THE MAD SCIENTIST: Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive), who left his position at the university when his experiments in chemical galvanism and electrobiology became too controversial. He continues his work away from disapproving eyes.

 

THE ASSISTANT: Fritz, the hunchbacked dwarf, played by Dwight Frye, who was neither.

 

THE LAB: An abandoned watchtower near Goldstat.

 

THE MONSTER: Boris Karloff, in his first of three outings as the monster.

 

SCENE-STEALING SUPPORTING ACTOR: Frederick Kerr as Henry's father, the blustering Baron Frankenstein.

 

PREMISES ESTABLISHED IN THIS MOVIE:  

 

CLASSIC ELEMENTS:

 

THE HAPPY ENDING: Victor, nearly killed by the monster, is recovering, with Elizabeth (Mae Clark) by his side.  The Baron drinks a toast to his son, and to the House of Frankenstein.

 

OVERSIGHTS AND ODDITIES:

BRIDE  OF  FRANKENSTEIN

(1935)

DIRECTED BY JAMES WHALE

THE MAD SCIENTIST: Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) has learned his lesson after the events of the first movie.   That is, until THE EVEN MADDER SCIENTIST, Dr Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), coerces the reluctant Henry into creating a mate for the monster.

 

THE ASSISTANT: Karl (Dwight Frye again, but not playing a hunchback dwarf this time).

 

THE LAB: The same abandoned watchtower from the first film.

 

THE MONSTER: The fire in the windmill burned off most of his hair.  He is again played by Boris Karloff, this time receiving top billing and calling himself simply “Karloff.”

 

SCENE-STEALING SUPPORTING ACTOR: Una O’Conner as the high-strung Minnie

 

PREMISES ESTABLISHED IN THIS MOVIE:

 

CLASSIC ELEMENTS:

 

THE HAPPY ENDING: Victor and Elizabeth hold each other close as the watchtower is completely destroyed in the distance.

 

OVERSIGHTS AND ODDITIES:

SON OF  FRANKENSTEIN

(1939)

DIRECTED BY ROLAND V. LEE

THE MAD SCIENTIST: Wolf  Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone), the now-adult son of Henry Frankenstein, returns to the old family estate, where he receives an icy reception from the locals.

 

THE ASSISTANT: Ygor (Bela Lugosi), a half-crazed hermit who was once hangedunsuccessfullyfor body snatching. He has been living in Henry Frankenstein’s abandoned laboratory for some time now.

 

THE LAB: Supposedly the same old lab, but with major differences (see below):

 

THE MONSTER: Boris Karloff, playing the monster for his third and final time. He now wears a fur tunic over his suit coat.

 

SCENE-STEALING SUPPORTING ACTOR: Lionel Atwill as Inspector Krogh, with his monocle and wooden arm.

 

SCENE-RUINING SUPPORTING “ACTOR”: Donnie Dunagan, who plays Wolf’s son, Peter.  Quite possibly the worst child actor ever.  His grating  “WAYYLLLL, HAYYYYLOOOO!” is more terrifying than any monster could be.

 

PREMISES ESTABLISHED IN THIS MOVIE:

   

CLASSIC ELEMENTS:

 

THE HAPPY ENDING: Despite the havoc Wolf caused by reanimating the monster, the final scene shows the happy villagers cheering the young Baron and his family, as they depart on the train.  Shouldn’t their attitude be one of “good riddance?”

 

OVERSIGHTS AND ODDITIES (Oh, where do I begin?):

GHOST OF  FRANKENSTEIN

(1942)

DIRECTED BY ERLE C. KENTON

THE NOT-QUITE-AS-MAD-AS-USUAL SCIENTIST: Dr Ludwig Frankenstein (Sir Cedric Hardwicke), younger brother of  Wolf.  A renowned specialist in the diseases of the mind, he tries to cure the monster by replacing his criminal brain with a more benevolent one. He has an adult daughter named Elsa (Evelyn Ankers), possibly named after her Uncle Wolf's wife in the previous film.

 

THE ASSISTANT: The bitter and jealous Dr Bohmer (Lionel Atwill), once Ludwig Frankenstein’s mentor, until a botched experiment ruined his career. Bohmer betrays Ludwig by substituting Ygor’s evil brain for the “good” one.

 

THE LAB: Ludwig Frankenstein’s sanitarium, “a large house with a high wall” in the village of Vasaria.

 

THE MONSTER: Played by Lon Chaney Jr.  This will be his only turn as the monster, but he will return in the remaining four films as Larry Talbot, the Wolf Man.

 

SCENE STEALING SUPPORTING ACTOR: Janet Ann Gallow as little Cloestine Hussman, who shows kindness to the monster.

 

PREMISES ESTABLISHED IN THIS MOVIE:

  

CLASSIC ELEMENTS:

 

THE HAPPY ENDING: Elsa and her manfriend Erik (Ralph Bellamy) literally walk off into the dawning of a new day.

 

OVERSIGHTS AND ODDITIES:

FRANKENSTEIN MEETS

THE WOLF MAN

(1943)

DIRECTED BY ROY WILLIAM NEILL

(This is the first of four “team-up” movies that feature the Frankenstein monster, the Wolf Man, and usually Dracula.  From this point on, the monster is given less and less to do.)

 

THE WELL-MEANING-BUT-WEAK SCIENTIST: Dr Frank Mannering (Patric Knowles) promises to treat Larry Talbot’s lycanthropy, but instead becomes seduced by the prospect of reanimating the monster.

 

THE ASSISTANT: none

 

THE LAB: The ruins of Ludwig Frankenstein’s sanitarium.

 

THE MONSTER: Bela Lugosi, struggling to appear taller than the hulking Lon Chaney Jr.

 

GUEST STAR: Larry Talbot, the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr) seeks out Ludwig Frankenstein’s help, only to discover that the doctor is dead.

 

SCENE STEALING SUPPORTING ACTOR: Rex Evans as the boorish Vasec, who takes it upon himself to blow up the dam.

 

PREMISES ESTABLISHED IN THIS MOVIE:

 

CLASSIC ELEMENTS:

 

THE HAPPY ENDING: Elsa and Mannering escape the castle just in time.

 

OVERSIGHTS AND ODDITIES:

HOUSE  OF  FRANKENSTEIN

(1944)

DIRECTED BY ERLE C. KENTON

(Actually two movies in one.  The first portion of the film involves Dr Niemann’s dealings with Dracula, who then is apparently killed.  The second part is about Niemann’s attempt to cure the Wolf Man and reanimate the Frankenstein monster.)

 

THE MAD SCIENTIST: Dr Gustav Niemann (Boris Karloff) is an admirer of Frankenstein’s work.  He was imprisoned for fifteen years for attempting to transplant a human brain into the skull of a dog.

 

THE ASSISTANT: Daniel, a hunchback and Niemann’s former cellmate.  He gladly kills for Niemann, who promises to (someday!) make Daniel’s contorted body normal.

 

THE LAB: Niemann’s castle in (where else?) Visaria, which has undergone a spelling change.

 

THE MONSTER: Glenn Strange, in his first of three times playing the monster.

 

GUEST STARS: John Carradine as Dracula, and Lon Chaney Jr as Larry Talbot, the Wolf Man.

 

SCENE STEALING SUPPORTING ACTOR: J. Carrol Naish as the tormented Daniel, who desperately desires Ilonka, the beautiful gypsy woman.

 

PREMISES ESTABLISHED IN THIS MOVIE:

 

CLASSIC ELEMENTS:

  

THE HAPPY ENDING TO THE FIRST PLOT: Lita and Carl are safely reunited after their harrowing brush with Dracula. They are not seen, mentioned, or even thought of for the remainder of the movie.

 

CLASSIC ELEMENTS, CONTINUED:

 

THE HAPPY ENDING TO THE SECOND PLOT: None.  Credits roll immediately after both heads dip below the quicksand.

 

OVERSIGHTS AND ODDITIES:

HOUSE  OF  DRACULA

(1945)

DIRECTED BY ERLE C. KENTON

(A “wrap-up” episode to the series. As in the previous installment, there are two unconnected plots: one involving Dracula, the other dealing with the Frankenstein monster and Wolf Man.  A surprising amount of the script was lifted directly from House of Frankenstein. And the monster’s role in this film is miniscule.)

 

THE NOT-MAD-AT-FIRST SCIENTIST: Dr Edelmann (Onslo Stevens), a noted physician who turns evil only after his blood becomes contaminated with a small amount of Dracula’s.

 

THE ASSISTANT: Nina, (Jane Adams) the beautiful hunchback, who is too nice for her own good.  She is killed while trying to calm a deranged Edelmann.

 

THE LAB: Dr Edelmann’s castle in (you guessed it!) Visaria. (There seem to be a bunch of castles in this village, don’t you think?)

 

THE MONSTER: Glenn Strange is back, but with nothing to do.

 

ALSO STARRING: John Carradine as Dracula, and a mustached Lon Chaney Jr as Larry Talbot, the Wolf Man.  Each seeks out Dr Edelmann for help with their conditions.

 

SCENE STEALING SUPPORTING ACTOR: The incomparable Skelton Knaggs as the pockmarked Steinmuhl. (“It's cle-uhh Dawktuh Aa-doll-munn killed my braw-thuh!”)

 

PREMISES ESTABLISHED IN THIS MOVIE:

 

CLASSIC ELEMENTS:

 

THE HAPPY ENDING: Talbot is cured of his condition, although this occurs somewhat before the end of the film.  The last shot is of the monster once again pinned under a fallen beam as the castle goes up in flames.

 

OVERSIGHTS AND ODDITIES:

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO

MEET FRANKENSTEIN

(1948)

DIRECTED BY CHARLES BARTON

(A comedy vehicle for the popular team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello that reunites the Frankenstein monster, the Wolf Man and Dracula one last time.  Strictly for laughs, and has no connection to the storyline of the previous movies.)

 

THE CURVACEOUS MAD SCIENTIST: Dr Sandra Mornay (Lenore Aubert) has convinced Costello that she is smitten with him.  In reality, she plans to transplant his simple brain into the skull of the Frankenstein monster.  Dracula feels this will make the volatile monster easier to control.

 

THE ASSISTANT: Dr Stevens (Charles Bradstreet), a straight-arrow who does not suspect Sandra’s true intentions.

 

THE LAB: A spooky castle on a desolate island, somewhere in the United States.

 

THE MONSTER: Glenn Strange, who plays the ultimate straight man to Costello’s manic shrieks and facial contortions.

 

ALSO STARRING: Dracula (Bela Lugosi!), who has made the monster his slave; Larry Talbot, the Wolf  Man (Lon Chaney Jr, sans mustache), who is trying to stop Dracula at any cost.

 

SCENE STEALING SUPPORTING ACTOR: Frank Ferguson as the constantly agitated McDougal.

 

CLASSIC (AND COMEDIC) ELEMENTS:

 

THE FUNNY ENDING: Abbott & Costello escape the clutches of Dracula, the Wolf  Man and the Frankenstein monster, only to find themselves face-to-face (so to speak) with the Invisible Man (voiced by Vincent Price)!

 

OVERSIGHTS AND ODDITIES:

ALL TEXT ON THIS PAGE IS COPYRIGHT 2004, 2013 BY MIKE HUMBERT.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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FRANKENSTEIN

(1931)

DIRECTED BY JAMES WHALE

If you’ve read this far, you must be a true fan of the old Frankenstein movies.  With that in mind, I’d like to recommend a newly published book:

FIT FOR A FRANKENSTEIN

Ever wonder where the Monster got that snazzy new suit he’s wearing in Ghost of Frankenstein?  Well, let’s just say it wasn’t from the Men’s Wearhouse.  I expected to get a reasonable start on Fit for a Frankenstein when I opened it, but I ended up reading it in one sitting.  I’m not sure how co-authors Paul McComas and Greg Starrett managed to write a novella that reads like a black-and-white movie, but they did it, and it’s a helluva lot of fun.  It's great how the tone changes gradually, almost imperceptibly, from a somber approximation of the movie to all-stops-pulled-out silliness at the end.  I also enjoyed how the authors managed to weave in the remaining sequels, and from Ygor's point of view.  (Most everyone tends to forget that the Monster really is Ygor in the later films; possibly even Ygor has forgotten!)  Even minor details in the movie are explained by the events in the book (The sleeves were too short because there was no initial fitting!).  The cover illustration is great, with just the right amount of punch, and the technical aspects of the book are also excellent; I don't recall even once being snapped out of the story by a typo.  Finally, it was nice to read something fun, rather than having to quote my father-in-law: 'Bring some water, it's pretty dry!'  Rather, as the Monster himself might say: 'Book gooooood!'

Click here to read more about FIT FOR A FRANKENSTEIN on amazon.com!