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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Son of Frankenstein (1939) - Horror Monster

Son of Frankenstein (1939) - Son of Frankenstein was the last time the great Boris Karloff would take the role of the monster. This was also a star studded film with Basil Rathbone as the son, Wolf von Frankenstein and Bela Lugosi showing his versatility as the crooked neck Ygor. The story is that the son inherits the castle while away in America with his American wife and son. I know you are thinking, "But didn't the castle get blown to bits in the last movie?" Why yes it looked like it did but amazingly it was just damaged. When Wolf and the family move in they are in a post modern castle of sparse furniture, shapely angles and distinct contrast of light and shadow. The sets are almost stage like in there simplicity yet striking.
The villagers are not happy to have the family in town and give them a cold shower on the rainy day they arrive, all leaving as the Son speaks of wanting to get to know them. Of course if your family let the monster get out into the community not once but twice, you would be wary too. Just like in the prior movies the Wolf von, falls passionately for the work his father was doing. Amazingly he is another in a long line of scientists. When in the lab surveying the damage he is almost killed by Ygor and when he is exposed to the dormant Monster the fire come alive in him. Just like his father before him he dives into what makes the monster growl.
The town people are not so much the fools they once were, or so they would like you to think. Inspector Krogh (Lionel Atwill) continues to check in with the Frankenstein's prying as much as possible into the goings on in the castle. He continually finds ways of showing up and moving the story on through his persistent inquiries.
Still the Son seems unstoppable and acts as possessed by the experimentation as his father was. He gets the monster going again but learns the persuasive Ygor seems to have control of the Monster. He sends him out for revenge assignments, since the towns people of the village put Ygor on trial after the father's crimes, he was found guilty by eight jurors. Now he sends the monster to kill each one. Did I mention that when they found him guilty they hanged him til dead. Yeah baby but luckily when Ygor was pronounced dead he actually wasn't and they apparently have double jeopardy in this village.
Of the three Frankenstein movies I have reviewed I think I like this one the best. Lugosi is exceptional as Ygor and the Monster seems wiser and more world worn. There are many subtle subtexts about the coming war, WWII and the consequences of the actions of our parents. Like many father son relationships Wolf has rose colored glasses about the work his father did. To him the whole thing could have been positive if Ygor had only not messed up with the brains. Like his father wondering at the ability to create life from the lifeless but never asking if it is morally right to do so. Also like his father he has doubts about the monster after bringing it back, but hey its a monster, what do you expect?
Since this classic could be unseen by many of today's blog readers I will give away no more plot points. Rent it and give it a watch, it is not the greatest film but It does some things right.
Rating (5.5) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz rating system I say Rent it!

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