(1942) dir. Erle C. Kenton
Having gotten a little screwed up by watching the Universal Frankenstein movies out of order, I decided to soldier on and finish up with the series, such as it is. As far as I can tell, there are a couple of outliers left: House of Frankenstein (1944) and Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), though the latter of the two is clearly a tad on the outside of even the outliers.
The Ghost of Frankenstein follows the events of Son of Frankenstein (1939), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Frankenstein (1931), but precedes the events of Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), which then precedes the events of House of Frankenstein. Now, aren’t you glad that I’ve helped you work that out? Not that chronology is hard when the movies came in relative sequence, but rather that you know all the films that you have to find…that is the challenge. Now, if I’m really feeling Frankenstein-y, I’ll go back to the Hammer Frankenstein series, which started with The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and then…yeah, not sure that’s going to happen right now.
Steadily, the films from this original series decline in quality and rise in outrageous plot developments. For The Ghost of Frankenstein, Ygor has survived the shooting in the prior film, and when an attempted lynching destroys the castle of Frankenstein, it uncovers the still living monster, now played by Lon Chaney, Jr. Ygor, now Igor, takes the monster to see another Dr. Frankenstein, the younger brother to Wolf from the prior film to get some help souping up the monster’s strength via lightning. Dr. Cedric Frankenstein is also motivated to clear his father’s name, and when the monster kills one of his doctors, he decides to assist by putting the doctor’s brain into the monster’s head.
But Ygor convinces another doctor, the failed mentor Dr. Bohmer, played by Lionel Atwell, to put Ygor’s brain into the body (though the monster for some reason wants the brain of a young girl inside his head — go figure that!) Well, unsurprisingly, putting Ygor’s brain into the monster doesn’t turn out to be a good idea, though it’s interesting to hear Lugosi’s voice coming from Chaney’s visage. The chaos and resulting blindness set the rubble for the re-inventions that come about in the following Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, with further twists to the plot endlessly added.
Revisiting these films in earnest as I have has given many reminders of those days of childhood, in front of the tv, watching these old black-and-white films with great ardor. Little did I know then much of the background, connections, order, information (beyond the movie stars and monsters). And it does intrigue me to carry on seeking out more of the period and genre. I may be taxing my Frankenstein endurance for the time being, but gosh knows that there are many, many, many, many more out there.