The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) – Erle C. Kenton

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Lon Chaney, jr. takes over the mantle of the Monster from Karloff in this next sequel in the Universal series.

Ygor (Bela Lugosi), yet lives and is still causing problems for the hamlet of Frankenstein. The locals want to destroy the castle completely and the horrible creature still seeks revenge against the superstitious villagers.

And The Monster, thought dead was only buried and preserved in the fiery pit he tumbled into at the end of the last film.

The pair seek out Ludwig Frankenstein (Cedric Hardwicke) and his grown daughter Elsa (Evelyn Ankers), yet another scientist in the family fascinated with macabre experiments. Unfortunately, the Monster is captured and is put on trial (I’m not kidding), until he and Ygor, the only person who can control the creature, make their escape.

Arriving at Frankenstein’s home, it’s decided an exchange of brains may improve the creature’s life; replacing a criminal brain with a good brain. But Ygor suggests his brain be used so he won’t lose his only friend. The Monster isn’t very keen on the idea and wants a young child’s brain instead.

Doctor Bohmer (Lionel Atwill) makes sure that Ygor’s brain ends up in the Monster’s body (which apparently includes his voice as well)… That’s going to be trouble. And the inevitable crowd of villagers with torches and pitchforks pushes us once again to the film’s climax. There’s fire, betrayal and an apparent Monster death (again), but I’m sure he’ll be back.

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Running just over an hour, this one is incredibly short.

There’s nothing new in this film, it doesn’t quite feel like a complete recycling of the previous films, but not far off. Chaney is fine as The Monster, and plays him with the lumbering walk we’ve come to expect, not quite mimicking Karloff, and most young viewers at the time would probably not be able to discern the difference.

I will say this, if I was prone to nightmares (and I’m happily not), and had seen these movies as a child… it wouldn’t be the Monster who would have frightened me and tormented my dreamscapes, it would have been Lugosi’s Ygor. Evil, manipulative, dangerous… undoubtedly psychotic, he’s the really scary aspect of these films.

I mean sure, the idea of a life created from cobbled together parts stolen from graves is creepy to the max, but, Ygor is just so, well, frightening.

So where does the title come from you ask? There is actually a ghost, Frankenstein’s father (also played by Hardwicke) visits his son to encourage him and urge him on in the family’s work.

Don’t get me wrong, this one was hugely entertaining, but it just doesn’t have the same appeal as the earlier films, and is getting very close to recycling moments as opposed to creating new ones.

Still, can’t wait to see what terrors Frankenstein has for me in the next film!

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