Son of Frankenstein (1939) Poster


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  • Son of Frankenstein, like Frankenstein (1931) (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) (1936) before it, is based on the 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, by 19-year old British author Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley [1797-1851]. The success of the first two Frankenstein films prompted the idea of making another sequel. The screenplay for Son of Frankenstein was written by American writer Wyllis Cooper. Edit

  • Henry and Elizabeth Frankenstein were newlyweds at the end of Bride of Frankenstein (1935) (1935), so enough time must have elapsed for them to give birth to Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) and for Wolf to grow up, get his degree as a doctor, marry, and produce a 5-year old son. Basil Rathbone was in his mid-40s when he starred in Son of Frankenstein. Even giving him the benefit of minus ten Hollywood years, his character must have been in his late 20s or early 30s, which is how many years must have passed between the two movies. Wolf is now in the process of moving his wife Elsa (Josephine Hutchinson) and their 5-year old son Peter (Donnie Dunagan) from America to Castle Frankenstein. Edit

  • The monster (Boris Karloff) was supposedly destroyed in an explosion and fire at the end of Bride of Frankenstein. Ygor (Bela Lugosi) tells Wolf that he found the monster comatose under a tree one night. Apparently he had been struck by lightning while out hunting. Inspector Krogh (Lionel Atwill) tells Wolf that it was the monster who ripped off his right arm when he was but a boy of about five years of age. From this information, it might be surmised that, after surviving the fire, the monster went feral for a period of time before Ygor found him and brought him back to Castle Frankenstein where he has been lying in a coma ever since. Of course, the villagers don't buy that the monster is dead, and they are less than cordial to Wolf and his family. Edit

  • That's about was medical mumbojumbo. Frankenstein says that the monster's eyes were contracted and he showed marked sclerectasia (protusion of the sclera), suggesting a mental abnormality (i.e., brain damage). He showed considerable osteodermia (bone and skin tissue) in the frontal region, which accounted for his huge forehead. Hypopituitarism supposedly accounts for his large size. His blood of pressure of over 300/220 and heart rate of over 250 beats per minute is unheard of in a human. His heart revealed a left ventricular preponderance (enlargement of the heart's left ventricle, which pumps blood into the aorta), along with two bullets. His blood was polymorphocellular (composed of blood cells of many forms), showed extreme hemachrosis (abnormal redness), his alpha leukocytes (white blood cells) do not dissolve, and his blood cells "seem to be battling one another as if they had a conscious life of their own." He adds up all these findings and concludes that the monster is completely superhuman, unearthly, and immortal because, when he was exposed to lightning, he actually attracted cosmic rays believed to be the very source of life. Edit

  • With a good zap of electricity from a generator, the big guy was up and about in no time. Edit

  • The monster had learned some rudimentary words ('wine good," "fire bad", "friend", etc.) in the previous movie, but the reason he lost that ability in this movie was ascribed to his "mental abnormality." Frankenstein and Ygor often mentioned that the monster was not yet "well." Today we would call it something like "aphasia following brain injury". It's said that the real reason was that the film-makers wanted to change the image of the Frankenstein monster from that of the educable and sympathetic character he was becoming in the first two movies and point him more in the direction of the scary and wanton killer. Edit

  • When Inspector Krogh realizes that eight villagers who have been killed are the same eight men who once convicted Ygor of stealing corpses, condemned him to hang, and then mistakenly pronounced him dead, Krogh pays a visit to Castle Frankenstein. He tells Wolf that he thinks Ygor is behind the murders but that Ygor has been being watched, and he is never in the area when the murders occur. He also doesnt suspect Wolf because six of the murders happened before Wolf ever came to the Castle. He does suspect that Wolf knows who might be responsible, i.e., he has reawakened the monster. Of course, Wolf denies it. Now certain, however, that Ygor has been using the monster to do his dirty work, Wolf orders Ygor out of the castle. Ygor attacks Wolf with a hammer, and Wolf shoots and kills him. Krogh actually congratulates Wolf for killing Ygor because Ygor had already been officially pronounced dead before and it would have been a bear to try him again. When the monster finds his buddy Ygor has been killed, he goes on a rampage and tosses a bunch of lab equipment into a pit of 800° F sulfur. He then sneaks into the castle and entices little Peter to come back with him to the lab. When Wolf notices Peter missing, he goes after the monster, they tussle, and Wolf swings at him from the end of a winch and kicks him into the sulfur. Now that all the villagers love Wolf for killing the monster, Wolf decides to move his family back to America. Edit

  • Universal Studios made eight Frankenstein movies, starting with Frankenstein (1931) (1931), which starred Boris Karloff as the monster. In Bride of Frankenstein (1935) (1935), the monster gets a mate. In Son of Frankenstein (1939) (1939), Dr Frankenstein's son Wolf (Basil Rathbone) revives his father's monster. The monster (Lon Chaney Jr.) is revived again in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) (1942) and treated by Dr Frankenstein's son Ludwig (Cedric Hardwicke). The Wolfman (Lon Chaney, Jr) recovers the monster (Bela Lugosi)'s body from a block of ice and he is revived again by Dr Mannering (Patric Knowles) in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) (1943). In House of Frankenstein (1944) (1944), mad Doctor Neiman (Boris Karloff) revives the monster (Glenn Strange) in order to exact revenge on his enemies. In House of Dracula (1945) (1945), the monster (Glenn Strange) is again found by the Wolfman (Lon Chaney, Jr) and revived by renown Doctor Edelman (Onslow Stevens). Many purists insist that the classic Universal Frankenstein saga ends here, but some also count Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) (1948) in which Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and Doctor Sandra Mornay (Lenore Aubert) attempt to transplant Wilbur (Lou Costello)'s brain into the monster (Glenn Strange). Edit



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