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The Ghost of Frankenstein

USA 1942
produced by
George Waggner for Universal
directed by Erle C. Kenton
starring Cedric Hardwicke, Lon Chaney jr, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Ralph Bellamy, Evelyn Ankers, Janet Ann Gallow, Barton Yarborough, Doris Lloyd, Leyland Hodgson, Olaf Hytten, Holmes Herbert, Lionel Belmore, Dwight Frye
screenplay by Scott Darling, make up by Jack Pierce

Frankenstein, Universal horror cycle, Universal's Frankenstein, Frankenstein's Monster (Lon Chaney jr)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Still fearing the curse of the Frankensteins, the villagers of Frankenstein form a torch-carrying posse that heads for  the baron's castle & blows it up - despite the hunchbacked Igor's (Bela Lugosi) best efforts to defend it by throwing rocks onto the mob.

The villagers' efforts however seem to have somewhat the reverse effect when by that explosion the monster (Lon Chaney jr) is freed of its imprisonment in dried up sulfur, & he & Igor decide to go to Ludwig (Cedric Hardwicke), the second son of Frankenstein, who is supposed to heal the monster, though it's never quite made clear from what.

In the village where Ludwig lives - heading an insane asylum & doing a little brainsurgery on the side with his trusted but overzealous associate Bohmer (Lionel Atwill) - the monster promptly causes a commotion when he makes friends with a little girl (Janet Ann Gallow), but kills pretty much everyone else in his way - & for that he is apprehended by the authorities. Ludwig Frankenstein is promptly called in to examine the monster (as this seems to be his field of expertise) by Erick (Ralph Bellamy), the fiancé of Ludwig's daughter Elsa (Evelyn Ankers), but by the time he arrives in town, he has already been blackmailed by Igor to free & heal the monster - even though the monster proves to be remarkably capable of freeing himself.

Once arriving at Frankenstein's asylum, the monster wastes no time & kills doctor Kettering (Barton Yarborough), whereafter Igor persuades Frankenstein into putting a new brain into the monster's head. Ludwig of course refuses, but the ghost of his father (hence the title - the scene by the way is extremely ridiculous) persuades him to perform the operation, if only to give the prematurely deceased doctor Kettering a new lease of life.

When Ludwig however tells Igor, Bohmer & the monster about his plans to transplant Kettering's brain into the monster, he is met with grave opposition: Igor wants his own brain in the monster's head (& even finds a way to persuade doctor Bohmer) while the monster wants the little girl's brain (what ?), whom he promptly abducts.

But while Ludwig & Bohmer perform the operation (with Bohmer secretly substituting Kettering's brain for Igor's), another mob of torch-carrying villagers heads for Frankenstein's place, & only Erick can keep them from immediately burning it down.

However, while with Ludwig another of the Frankensteins sees the error of his ways when he discovers he has made Igor into a superhuman monster, & while the villagers decide to tear down the asylum despite Erick's pleas to wait, Etrick has scarcely enough time to get elsa & the girl out. Igor, at that time, has already released poisoned gas into the asylum to kill the intruders, but when learning that his body starts to refuse his brain & he is all of a sudden blinded, he runs amock & accidently blows up the asylum ... Elsa & Erick walk away into a brighter future.


In the 1930's Universal produced a string of horror movies that, thanks to a deliberate portion of inventiveness & originality would sometimes transcend genre confines & in later decades be considered as genuine works of (pulp-)art. In the 1940's however, these times were long past & Universal would be strongly relying on its past glory by reviving its monsters again & again, letting them fight their way through horror-by-the-numbers plots, brought to the screen in a comparatively uninspired & heavily clichéd way, usually full of kitsch but devoid of irony.

Ghost of Frankenstein is a fine example for Universal's 1940's horrors, with a ridiculous story full of plotholes & leaps of logic & reason, a direction that has little to offer but horror-mainstays, & Lon Chaney jr - normally a quite capable horror actor - being a poor substitute for Karloff as the monster. It's an easily forgettable picture, on the other hand it does provide some laughs & has some entertainment value despite everything mentioned above. & Lugosi, as the crazed hunchback having to deliver such lines as "The lightning ... It's good for you !" is just a hoot to watch. However, in the 1940's the horror pictures of little Monogram or PRC provided far more entertainment on that scale.



review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD