Wolf von Frankenstein returns to the Baronial manor from the United States with his wife Elsa and son Peter. He not made welcome by the locals who are still terrified of his father's works and the monster he created. The local Burgomaster gives him a sealed briefcase left by his father and inside, Wolf finds his father's scientific notes. At the manor house he meets his father's assistant Igor who has a surprise for him: the monster his father created is still alive, though in some sort of coma. Wolf's initial attempts to re-animate the creature seem to fail but when Peter says he saw a giant in the woods, it appears he's met success. When people are mysteriously killed in the village there is little doubt that the monster is responsible.Written by
Plans were discussed to shoot the film in Technicolor, but the decision was made to revert to black and white; both director Lee and co-star Josephine Hutchinson verified in later years that the film was designed for, and shot in monochrome. Urban myth has it that Karloff's make-up photographed bright green and was a primary reason for shooting in black and white. An urban myth has it that Dwight Frye was in the Technicolor test reel and was subsequently dropped from the cast. In the late 1980s a reel of Technicolor test footage was discovered in Universal's vaults, but was either stolen from the desk of the executive who was in possession of it (according to one story) or simply boxed back up by bureaucrats and shipped to a New Jersey film vault (according the film archivist who actually found the reel.) Karloff family home movies shot on the set of the film reveal the Monster's coloration to be grayish with subtle highlights and shadows of blue-green and brick red. The brief clips show Karloff in Monster make-up sticking his tongue out at the camera and pretending to strangle make-up artist Jack P. Pierce can be seen on the CD-ROM The Interactive History of Frankenstein (1995) and 100 Years of Horror (1996), courtesy of Sara Karloff. See more »
During the meeting near the beginning, when the Burgomeister stands up, he raises his hands. In the next shot, his hands are back on the podium. See more »
[a child picks up a rock to throw at Ygor's window]
Ain't you afraid?
Of old Ygor? No!
[Ygor stares from the window]
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The British release print runs approximately two minutes longer. See more »
Usually the third film in a series shows signs of decline either in quality or inventiveness. Even the third 'Godfather' was significantly less than its predecessors. Universal's 'Frankenstein' series that began in the early 1930's was no exception and showed some wear by the end of the decade when 'Son of Frankenstein' was released. Under the sensitive direction of James Whale, the original 'Frankenstein' was a classic, and, in the first sequel, 'Bride of Frankenstein,' Whale even managed to better it. However, while Whale was not involved with 'Son,' the third installment turned out to be a surprisingly good movie even if it failed to match the two preceding films. Perhaps the major reason for the success of 'Son' was the casting of Basil Rathbone as Wolf Frankenstein, the original Baron's son. Rathbone is a fine strong actor, and his characterization certainly exceeds Colin Clive's somewhat colorless portrayal of his father in the preceding films. Rathbone holds the viewer's attention throughout as he becomes immersed in the legacy of his father and fails to comprehend the consequences of what he is doing. Boris Karloff returns for a third time as the monster. Although he does a fine job, there is less opportunity for the actor to show the range of emotion in this film that he displayed in 'Bride.' Another aspect of 'Son' that raises it above the ordinary is the set and lighting design, which owes a debt to German expressionism. The sets have bold diagonals in their construction, and the cameraman has lit them to cast equally bold shadows against bare walls and create abstract patterns that often recall 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.' The lighting and design of one particular section of a cave under the Frankenstein laboratory could have been blown up and framed as an expressionist photograph. Although it does not reach the heights of the Whale films, 'Son of Frankenstein' is a worthy successor and an engrossing film in its own right.
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