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The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942).

September 26, 2008

The Scoop:
Okay, by this point it was just getting silly. This fourth installment in Universal’s Frankenstein series started its long downhill slide in quality, mirroring the overall decline of the horror film genre in the 1940s.

This time around, there’s yet another descendant of the mad doctor (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) trying to control the creature. Bela Lugosi is back as Ygor (despite the fact that he was killed at the end of the previous movie), and so is Lionel Atwill, although he’s playing an entirely different character. Ralph Bellamy and Evelyn Ankers play the obligatory young couple. Since Boris Karloff wisely bowed out, the moster duties were turned over to Lon Chaney Jr., whose performance is an utter parody of Karloff’s.

Hell, the whole movie is practically a parody of its predecessors. That didn’t stop Universal from milking this cash cow, though — this was followed by four more films in the series, which finally ended with a sputter with “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.”

“The Ghost of Frankenstein” was written by Scott Darling (a rewrite of the original script by Eric Taylor, which the studio found too depressing) and directed by Erle C. Kenton — genre veterans with filmographies that are long on B-grade quickies, but short on quality. The makeup and costume design leave a lot to be desired, too. But on the plus side, the film looks good, thanks to the efforts of art director Jack Otterson and cinematographers Woody Bredell and Milton Krasner.

Best Bit:
The monster trying to indicate that he wants to trade brains with a little girl. It is every bit as ridiculous as it sounds.

Side Note:
The film was released on a Friday the 13th.

Companion Viewing:
The rest of the series.

Monster Hunter.
1,000 Misspent Hours.

Take a Look:
The heart-pounding trailer!

“You talk as though this is the dark ages!”

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