Man-Made Monster (1941)
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Yes, its as corny as it sounds but then so are the Frankenstein films. Corny or no the film is a great way to spend an hour of your time on a rainy night.When most people think of the Universal horror films in the 1930's and 40's they tend to think of the Frankenstein/Dracula/Wolfman movies forgetting or unaware that Universal turned out a a number of very good second tier horror films at the same time. This is one of them.
Warning: do not confuse this with The Indestructible Man which has a similar plot line but which is not particularly well made.
8 out of 10 on a rainy night with the lights off and your best honey by your side.
Universal's Man Made Monster has no pretence what so ever, it is what it is, a short sharp shock shocker that plugs itself into the mains and lights up the screen for its 1 hour running time. Which in the case of the excellent Chaney Jr is actually the case, as he is transformed into a hulking, walking light bulb head that garners sympathy in the way that Universal's other man made monster did. The photography (Elwood Bredell) is moody and atmospheric, Hans J. Salter's musical score delightfully oozes familiar Universal values, while Waggner and his team, when one considers the short running time, do very good work on the characterisations; with Atwill given full license to be bonkers-real bonkers.
It's all very conventional in the grand scheme of Universal horror. Monster elicits sympathy, a foxy lady in the mix (Nagel), mad scientist, dashing hero type (Frank Albertson) and here we even have the intelligent pet. There's some smarts in the writing as the makers observe capital punishment and note man messing with things he probably shouldn't be. But really just don't go too deep with it and enjoy a solid little chiller that's boosted by John Fulton's first rate special effects. 7/10
Man Made Monster might be considered a "lesser" Universal horror film, but it's a good one. I haven't seen it in literally decades and I'm happy to report that it held up rather well. It's not as good as some of Universal's better known films, but it's a solid, entertaining effort. Director George Waggner (who would go on to direct Chaney in The Wolf Man) does a marvelous job of keeping things moving at a nice pace. None of the relatively short 59 minutes is wasted. Chaney, always good at playing the sympathetic figure, does so here as well as ever. Atwill has always been underrated in my eyes and he gives one of his most demented performances as Dr. Rigas in Man Made Monster. The special effects are "cool" for the lack of a better word. The glowing Chaney works. Overall, this is one that deserves a much wider audience, especially among horror fans. Even though it's a limited release, hopefully the new R1 DVD release will put Man Made Monster into the hands of more fans.
This was Lon Chaney, Jr.'s first "monster" movie, from the same director who would later helm THE WOLF MAN, Chaney's most popular flick of all. MAN MADE MONSTER is highly entertaining and enjoyable. It contains all the elements of a good, solid horror film.
Lionel Atwill is at the top of his game as an insane doctor trying to create an army of electrically charged zombie-men. He finds the perfect subject in the sweet and gentle Chaney, a sideshow attraction famous for demonstrating his immunity to electricity.
Lon's performance echoes his acclaimed role of "Lenny" from 1939's OF MICE AND MEN. He comes off as a likeable but gullible lug. He was always best as an actor when conveying pathos or brutish strength.
The pace of the film is quick and easy, and the Universal music adds spice to an already competent thriller. It's a fun hour or so that fans of early horror films do not want to miss.
A man is involved in a bus crash and he turns out to be the sole surviver of this. A mad scientist then takes him in and learns he is immune to electricity. After being sentenced to death for killing a man, he survives the electric chair and then goes on the rampage killing several people and then runs out of electricity and dies through this. The parts where the dog makes friends with him lets the movie down a little. This doesn't seem to fit in with the main story.
As well as Lon Chaney Jnr, the movie has an excellent role from Universel horror regular Lionel Atwill and Anne Nagel plays the main female role.
This movie is an excellent way to spend an hour one evening.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5.