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  Ghost of Frankenstein, The Professor Brainstorm
Year: 1942
Director: Erle C. Kenton
Stars: Cedric Hardwicke, Lon Chaney Jr, Ralph Bellamy, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, Evelyn Ankers, Janet Ann Gallow, Barton Yarbrough, Doris Lloyd, Leland Hodgson, Olaf Hytten, Holmes Herbert, Dwight Frye
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: The Monster created by Baron Frankenstein and recently revived by his son has been drowned in a pit of sulphur, but the villagers are still not satisfied. They want the castle utterly destroyed, especially seeing as how the criminal Ygor (Bela Lugosi) has survived being shot - as well as a hanging - and now resides there playing his horn which disturbs the villagers ever more. The magistrate is forced to allow the mob to have their way, and so it is that they descend on the castle with dynamite, unaware that they are about to make matters worse...

This is because what the angry villagers do is unwittingly revive the Monster, breaking him free of the sulphur pit and revealing him not to be played by Boris Karloff this time, but by the first man to take over the famous role, Lon Chaney Jr. The Ghost of Frankenstein was produced by George Waggner, who had directed the star in The Wolf Man the previous year which might explain why some of the same cast and crew of that film were carried over for this one. It was also part of the drive by Universal to make Chaney Jr their man to go to for horror roles.

Chaney Jr certainly had the bulk for the Monster role, yet lacked Karloff's subtlety, not that the script by Scott Darling offered him many opportunities for that other than having him play opposite a little girl, Janet Ann Gallow, who he takes a liking to when he retrieves her ball from a rooftop. Sounds like a nice thing to do, doesn't it? Well, it probably would have been if he hadn't also taken her up there with him, knocked a man trying to save her down the stairs and another off the roof in the process. It's no wonder he ends up in court.

The trouble with the Monster, as the townsfolk of this new village find out, is how to contain him, essentially, how to destroy the indestructible. It so happens there is another Frankenstein in the vicinity, and he is played by Cedric Hardwicke as a psychiatrist who might be able to work a spot of psychological magic with the bothersome creature. Alternatively, he could remove his brain and replace it with another - the brain that is already in his noggin is a "Criminal" one, after all and a change could do the murdering menace good.

Unfortunately, there's a problem in that nobody can settle on whose brain to give the Monster. There's another doctor there at the institute, Dr Bohmer (our old friend Lionel Atwill) who is keen on putting Ygor's brain in there, at Ygor's behest as he wants to live forever in an powerful body, but Dr Frankenstein wants to put the brain of his recently deceased (guess why) colleague into that square bonce. The most bizarre aspect is that the Monster himself wants the brain of the tiny little girl in his head, needless to say he doesn't get his wish but imagine the unintentional comedy if he had. The ghost of the title turns up for less than a minute, and this is thought of as a lesser effort in the great scheme of Universal chillers, but it is eventful and ideal for addicts. Next stop: the Wolf Man returned. Music by Hans J. Salter.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Erle C. Kenton  (1896 - 1980)

American director who made over 100 films in a 50 year career. Worked as a bit-part actor before making his feature debut in 1919, and was best known for directing comedies, including two of Abbott & Costello’s best films – Pardon My Sarong and Who Done It?. Kenton also proved adept in the horror genre, directing the 1933 classic Island of Lost Souls, with Charles Laughton, as well as House of Dracula, Ghost of Frankenstein and The Cat Creeps. Died from Parkinson's disease in 1980.

 
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