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A necrophilic family reunion; "We're all dead here."
GulyJimson14 June 2004
With the runaway success of the re-issue on a double bill of both "Dracula" and "Frankenstein" in the late nineteen thirties, Universal Studios decided it was time to resurrect their most lucrative property, the Frankenstein Monster, if the studio was to have any chance of surviving the fiscal year. True to form they originally intended to produce nothing more than a quick cheapie to cash in on the public's renewed interest in horror films. Director Rowland V. Lee had other ideas. He envisioned the film as a modern fairy tale with Frankenstein's Monster as the traditional giant ogre stalking a primordial landscape, and to be sure it is in this film that he first enters the realm of myth. To help achieve this goal he set Jack Otterson to create the most expressionistic sets of any horror film since "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari". The universe of "Son" is a world of perpetual night and fog; rain swept castles and blasted heaths; terrifying flashes of lightening; shadowy corridors where giants lurk; hidden passage ways leading to underground crypts, where time, dust and the worm aren't the only things that move among the dead. "Son of Frankenstein" is the most visually impressive of all of Universal's horror films and George Robinson's gorgeous black and white cinematography captures every shadow, every out-sized distortion beautifully.

This would also be the last time a Frankenstein film would have a script worthy of the subject. Willis Cooper fashioned a contemporary Grimm's fairy tale in which the journey of the film's "outsiders", Wolf, Elsa, and Peter will become progressively more nightmarish the deeper they descend; where even breakfast in the morning will be overseen by a pair of monstrous gargoyles. They're journeying by train to inherit the Frankenstein estate, unknown to them a house literally at the edge of Hell, and these opening shots are the most "normal" in the entire film. They think of themselves as "explorers" and "exploring something so foreign we can't even imagine what its like." They speak of the castle being "haunted", while outside the window we see through the wind and the rain a gray expanse of desolation and dead trees. "What a strange country!" Elsa exclaims. Their passage into the subterranean netherworld of mad doctors, murderous hunchbacks and monsters has begun and will climax in a necrophilic family reunion, ("We're all dead here.") in the Frankenstein crypt, in which both grandfather and father are dead, but the step-brother, the monster and family black sheep is very much alive. "Do you mean to imply that is my brother?" Wolf asks. Igor, the true Frankenstein family retainer replies, "Only his mother was the lightening." And it is Wolf's voyage from arrogance and ignorance, ("Why should we fear anything!") to humility and wisdom, ("Never in my life have I known cold fear until that moment I felt his hand on my shoulder!") which is central to the film.

While the film is a follow up to "Bride of Frankenstein", it very much stands on its own. Gone are any references to the Bride and Dr, Praetorious, both presumably "blown to atoms" at the climax of that film. Also the monster doesn't speak. All traces of speech, at Karloff's insistence were eliminated. The portrait of Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein dominates the castle's study, and recalls the earlier films. In the scenes on the train Wolf refers to the, "Blunder of a stupid assistant who gave his father's creation the brain of a killer instead of a normal one." This is of course, a direct reference to the first film. Karloff's return to his greatest role completes the linking of the three films. And consistent with the impressive visuals, the Monster is given his most striking look. Gone is the distinctly twentieth century black garb so beloved of the Universal Frankenstein films. Instead the Monster is clothed in a crude sheepskin jersey, with heavy shirt and trousers stitched together with strips of leather. Indeed, his whole appearance has become that of a giant, an ogre out of Grimm or Perrault. He even gets the traditional giant's club in the form of Krogh's wooden arm at the film's climax. As if to underscore this, Peter gives the Monster a present-a storybook of fairy tales!

The film may have the greatest horror film cast ever. There is Karloff dominating as the Monster. Given less screen time than in the previous film, his scenes are still among his most powerful. To cite just two examples, the scene where he rises like Lucifer out of the pit is like an image from Dante's Inferno while his primal howl of grief upon discovering the dead Igor is one of the Monster's greatest moments from any of the Frankenstein films. Bela Lugosi easily has his best role after Dracula as the broken neck, hunchback, Igor. Creepy, roguish, even pitiable, one is reminded of what a fine actor he could be with a role worthy of his talent. Lionel Atwill with his beautifully clipped vocal delivery and sardonic sense of humor has his definitive screen role as the one arm Inspector Krogh; he doesn't miss any opportunity for scene stealing bits of business with that wooden arm. And there is Basil Rathbone as Wolf. He doesn't have Karloff's make-up or Lugosi's broken neck or Atwill's wooden arm, but he gives a full-blooded commanding performance that refuses to get lost in this who's who of cinematic ghouls. William K. Everson once said that only a truly great actor can get away with a little deliberate ham now and then, and if Rathbone is a little over the top, it is ham well seasoned and served and adds enormously to the enjoyment of the film. Finally Frank Skinner's incredible film score would set the standard for Universal's horror films for the next decade.
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Surprisingly Good Sequel
dglink13 October 2004
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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Shadows of Frankenstein
BrandtSponseller23 February 2005
Series note: I strongly recommend that you watch the Frankenstein films to this point in order. Each builds on the events of the previous entry and will have much more meaning and significance if watched in order. The first film is Frankenstein (1931), and the second is Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

The third film in Universal's Frankenstein series, Son of Frankenstein is set after the first two film's Henry Frankenstein has passed away. Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone), Henry's son, is on his way to claim his inheritance from his father, and receives a not-too-warm welcome from the small German town that has been frightened out of its wits by Henry's doings with monsters. While staying at the family castle, Wolf opens a box containing his father's research records and a note from his father encouraging him to follow in the same footsteps. He initially believes he's not worthy of such encouragement, but becoming a "mad doctor" may be easier than he thinks.

In both the overall tone of the film and in the tone of Boris Karloff's last turn as "The Monster", Son of Frankenstein is much more closely allied with James Whale's first Frankenstein film, rather than the camp-fest that was Bride of Frankenstein. New series director Rowland V. Lee has everything played various seriously, even Bela Lugosi's Ygor, which could have easily become funny, intentionally so or not.

Adding to the atmosphere are the sets, which are just as grand in their own way as anything in either of Whale's two Frankenstein films. This time around the expressionist influence is at its strongest, but it is combined with a prescient minimalism. While the first two films had strong surrealist visual touches combined with their expressionism, Son of Frankenstein dispenses altogether with any concerns of approaching realism or naturalism. The idea here instead is to create starkness and shadows, often with a maximum of intentional artificiality. It's an appropriate approach that both pays homage to the earlier films and reflects the plot of the present film--shadows are an offspring of their parent objects, and the monster is an artificial man. The production and set design of the film is even more remarkable when one realizes that art directors of the era routinely worked on many films at once. Son of Frankenstein's Art Director Jack Otterson, for example, worked on over 50 films in 1942 alone!

It's a rare treat to have three genre icons the caliber of Rathbone, Karloff and Lugosi together in one film. They mesh exquisitely, managing to enhance each other's performances with no one upstaging anyone else. Lionel Atwill, as Inspector Krogh, easily holds his own with the trio (although any fan of Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein (1974) is sure to laugh at occasional moments involving Krogh, since he is so perfectly spoofed in Brooks' film), as does the beautiful Josephine Hutchinson as Frankenstein's wife Elsa (named after the woman who played The Bride in the previous film, Elsa Lanchester) and Donnie Dunagan as their son Peter.

Lugosi's Ygor was supposedly improvised then written into the film--Lugosi was originally slated to play a policeman. This is remarkable in that his shepherd character and relationship to The Monster are so well integrated. The Monster symbolically wears a heavy woolen vest/smock, and has a deeply symbiotic relationship with Ygor that is the core of the film. Ygor is also "undead" in his own way.

While Son of Frankenstein is not nearly as epic as the first two films, it should not be. Its aim is to unfold more like a stage play, with highly abstract, symbolic sets and finely integrated performances from a skilled cast. As such, it is every bit as good as the first two films in the series.
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"...he does things for me"
bsmith555214 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
"Son of Frankenstein" is the third installment of Universal's long running Frankenstein series. It is also the longest running at 92 minutes and was given the biggest budget of all the Frankenstein films. Apparently Universal wanted this film to be their showpiece for 1939 and actually planned to film it in color. Unfortunately, the monster's makeup photographed a pale green and they went back to the old reliable black and white. With all the hoopla and first rate cast, this film comes up short of the first two in the series.

The story picks up some years after the first two. Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone), the son of Henry, his wife Elsa (Josephine Hutchinson) and young son Peter (Donnie Dunagon) return to the family castle. The village resents him having not forgotten the carnage created by his father's creation. Lurking about the castle is the mysterious Ygor (Bela Lugosi) who harbors a deadly secret.

Frankenstein confronts Ygor who shows him that the monster (Boris Karloff) created by his father did not perish. Ygor explains that "He is my friend...he does things for me". We then learn that several prominent villagers have been mysteriously murdered and that the killer remains at large. Frankenstein gets his creative juices flowing and agrees to restore the monster to his full potential.

Unknown to Frankenstein, the monster has been in contact with his son and has been moving about. A suspicious police inspector (Lionel Atwill) begins to watch Frankenstein's movements. Realizing that Ygor is in control of the monster the Baron confronts him and.....

Director Rowland V. Lee takes over from James Whale as director and seems to favor dark shadowy geometric designs for his set pieces. Gone are the classic gothic creepy settings of the first two films. What we have are a sparsely furnished barn of a castle and only remnants of the glorious laboratories of the earlier films.

This was the final appearance for Karloff as the monster. Here, he is given little to do except to be Ygor's henchman. He no longer talks and invokes no pathos whatsoever. Rathbone is way over the top as usual, as the Baron. Lugosi, in his best part in years, steals the film. He is the real villain of the piece. Given the time of the film, Lionel Atwill's character seems to be a lampoon of a German officer. And poor old Dwight Frye, wasted again, appears in the crowd as a villager.

After this film the series would degenerate into "B" status with running times of just over an hour.
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"One doesn't easily forget, Herr Baron, an arm torn out by the roots."
bensonmum24 October 2005
When Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) arrives to take over his father's estate, the locals immediately begin to fear for the worst. Wolf's father created a monster that terrorized the community and the townsfolk want no more of that. Wolf assures everyone that he has no intentions of creating a monster. But when Wolf finds Ygor (Bela Lugosi) living in the ruins of his father's laboratory, he is soon headed down the same path of destruction that claimed his father.

Over the years, there have been volumes written on the Universal classic horror movies. Realizing that it would be foolish of me to attempt to improve or add much to the writings of these scholars, I'll instead focus on a couple of areas that make Son of Frankenstein so special to me.

1. The Acting. Son of Frankenstein features a Who's Who of the best of the classic horror actors. Joining Rathbone and Lugosi in the cast are Boris Karloff and Lionel Atwill. While each gives a noteworthy performance in their own right, Lugosi's performance is generally held up as the best of his career. And while I agree, Rathbone makes Son of Frankenstein a joy for me to watch. There are very few actors that I can think of who could have played Wolf with the same type of intelligent energy that Rathbone exhibits. He's wonderful. As for Karloff, I'm glad he decided to make Son of Frankenstein his last as the monster. By the time of the second sequel, Karloff's monster became little more that a prop for Lugosi, Rathbone, and Atwill to fight over.

2. The Sets. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the sets in Son of Frankenstein are among the best I've ever seen. The sets are amazing with their bizarre angles and shadows. Two that immediately come to mind are the dining table set and the staircase set at the beginning of the movie. They are in a class of their own.

Every fan of horror, or just good classic movies in general, owes it to themselves to see Son of Frankenstein. It may not be as well known among the casual fan as either Frankenstein or Bride of Frankenstein, but it many ways it's the equal of those two films (if not better).
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Or...The Legend of the Frankenstein Monster!
jbirtel20 September 2002
'Frankenstein' and 'Bride of...' pretty much told a complete story. And the story was fashioned in such a way that the viewer is watching the events as they unfold. As the events unfold, the story shifts from the torment of the creator, Frankenstein, to the torment of the creation, the Monster.

Now in 'Son of...', the emphasis is shifted back to the scientist. And Karloff no longer has a monopoly on the role of the 'Back From the Dead'; he shares that with Lugosi's 'Ygor'. Nor does he have the monopoly on the 'Artificial Human'; he shares that spot with Atwill's one-armed 'Inspector Krogh'. Nor does he possess his personality that was gradually evolving in the first two entries. The Monster has been reduced to a hulking henchman bound to the will of the evil Ygor.

The 'Monster turned pawn' had actually begun in 'Bride of...' as Pretorious used him to force Frankenstein to create the Monster's mate. You could almost say that the Monster was used as a tool for Henry Frankenstein to play God; a tool for Pretorious' dream to create a new race; and a tool for Ygor's desire for revenge on the jurors who condemned him to the hangman's noose. The difference in 'Son of...' is that the Monster no longer evolves and the character is left with no where to go.

But this is still a fascinating film. Director Lee replaces realistic sets and background with surrealism. Details from the first two films are abandoned for light background and twisted, gargantuan shadows. And much of some great action set-pieces have already occurred off screen, before the movie begins. Which means we're left with alot of talk of 'what was' and 'what happened before'. Which kind of fits into the definition of what a legend constitutes. Fortunately, the actors doing the talking are Rathbone, Lugosi and Atwill. Even Rathbone's over the top performance can be forgiven, knowing his next film(?) was his signature (& debut) role as Sherlock Holmes in 'Hound of the Baskervilles', a role he was absolutely brilliant in.

Even though Karloff has a much reduced role, the gigantic sets, dead trees and slanted architecture compels the viewer to be constantly aware of his lurking menace. It is this approach that, standing on its own, makes this a fine film. The viewer is forced to rely on imagination more than the first two movies put together. It is certainly a more polished film than the original. And Lugosi and Atwill's support acting are leagues above the wooden Mae Clarke, John Boles and Valerie Hobson.

Like the Monster; "tis better to have been made, than never to have been made at all". We would have missed out on all that fun.

7 out of 10 ! One of my favorite 'Frankenstein' films.
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Karloff's Last As The Monster And Lugosi's First As Ygor
sevenup@neo.rr.com11 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The Son Of Frankenstein was made by Universal Studios under a new regime in 1939.Gone was Carl Laemmle Jr. who was so responsible for all of the great chillers that are true classics that every filmmaker is in someway inspired by whenever a new fright film is made.

The new heads at Universal had realized that there was money to be made from the ghoulish creations that the Laemmles,James Whale,Tod Browning and the Great make-up wizard Jack Pierce had created.It was a year or so before Son Of Frankenstein was released when a wise theater owner had booked both Universal's Dracula and Frankenstein on a double bill which had audiences clamoring for Universal realized they still had hot properties and so they decided to make another sequel to the famed Frankenstein series. The Great Basil Rathbone now played Baron Henry Frankenstein's son who would journey to his homeland to claim his inheritance.Rathbone is Baron Wolf von Frankenstein and his wife is Baroness Elsa von Frankenstein(Josephine Hutchinson) who have a little boy.Rowland V. Lee is the Director of this film and has made what is considered to be the darkest and most germanic film in the series.The village is now known as Frankenstein and the villagers are hateful even when Rathbone tries to reach out to them by making a passionate speech regretting what has happened to them and his Father having been responsible for the creation of the Monster...but it's to no avail as the Burgomeister says to this Baron von Frankenstein,"we come to meet you, not to greet you." Colin Clive would be seen in the series only in clips now from the first two films he was in because he'd expired in 1937.

Ironically,Basil Rathbone was in real life older than the man who'd played his Father with this Son Of Frankenstein having been born in 1892 and Colin Clive in 1900. The old watchtower is now on the Frankenstein estate where Rathbone's character goes and explores one morning.It is inside this old structure that he meets Bela Lugosi's greatest role of all time:the evil Ygor.A shaggy Lugosi with a moustache,beard, having a broken neck and speaking with a gravelly voice in broken English leads Rathbone to a secret crypt in the old watchtower where Baron Wolf von Frankenstein sees where his Father-Baron Heinrich von Frankenstein(better known as Henry) and his Grandfather are now buried. As Wolf and Ygor walk farther into this crypt he discovers the Frankenstein Monster(Boris Karloff) in a comatose state.In this scene,the Monster flinches as Rathbone's Baron von Frankenstein screams out in shock,"He's Alive!" ...proving he has the same great Frankenstein blood flowing through his veins as that of Colin Clive. This film is this writer's favorite of the Karloff and Lugosi films with Basil Rathbone and Lionel Atwill as Inspector Krogh giving excellent performances as well. The world that these character's live in this film is the most unreal of any in the series.It's always overcast or foggy with enormous dead trees that Karloff's Monster topples over while he goes about doing Ygor's bidding.Josephine Hutchinson had said that she,Rathbone and Lionel Atwill had found the movie hard to take seriously which may explain why Rathbone is delightfully hammy at times.But don't get this writer wrong I LOVE THIS FILM AND CONSIDER IT AN ALL TIME CLASSIC. Lionel Atwill is excellent as Inspector Krogh who had his arm pulled off by the Monster as a child and makes a point with it in numerous scenes throughout this movie. But Karloff and Lugosi work excellently together seeming to be the absolute closest of friends as Monster and the evil Ygor.Boris Karloff left this series on truly a high note . Son Of Frankenstein is one of the greatest movies ever made.

The Great Boris Karloff would return to the Universal series one last time in 1944 in House Of Frankenstein to play the mad scientist Dr.Gustav Niemann...and he makes the most of this evil character too.
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It Runs in the Family
BaronBl00d18 July 2000
Basil Rathbone plays Wolf, the son of Frankenstein, returning to his inheritance of castle and lab with wife and child in tow. Along the way he meets his father's old assistant Ygor, who has a broken neck from having been hanged and living, and the creature his father created. The townspeople get excited, a couple die, and mayhem takes over. This movie is above-average for a number of reasons. First and foremost it is a highly stylized movie in the German impressionistic manner. The sets are incredible and director Rowland Lee spares little in showing us his appreciation of movies such as Nosferatu and Caligari. The castle is a huge atmospheric temple and each room is just as big in its own way. This is the film that inspired most of Mel Brook's Young Frankenstein both in look and plot. The plot is good but the acting carries it beyond that. Karloff as always does a great job in his final role as the monster. Rathbone makes a great scientist trying to avenge his father's name. He starts the movie very relaxed and his tension builds and builds. His scenes with Atwill are his best. That brings us to the two great performances of the film...Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi. Lugosi as Ygor is perhaps his greatest role after Dracula. His voice, his leers, his manner are all wonderfully played. It is Lugosi that steals every scene he is in. That is not bad because Lionel Atwill steals every scene he is in(the two have no scenes together). Atwill brings life into his role as an inspector with a wooden arm. Atwill has grace and charm, and a generous dose of humour. This is his best role as far as I am concerned. Just listening to him give his speech about his encounter with the monster as a child is at one hand chilling and at the other emotional. Son of Frankenstein deservedly ranks as one of the great Universal horror pictures. It is not as good as The Bride of Frankenstein, but looks better than any of the Universal horror pictures. And that is as great a compliment as any!
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preppy-327 September 2003
The last Boris Karloff Frankenstein. The Baron's son Wolf (Basil Rathbone) comes to move to his late father's estate--a big beautiful castle. Inside he meets Ygor (Bela Lugosi) a crippled madman who wants to revive the Monster (Karloff). Naturally everything goes wrong.

Elaborate sequel to the series--the last really good one that Universal spent money on. The sets are huge and incredibly bizarre (note the huge wooden stairs going to the second floor). Also they're shot using weird camera angles and making very good use of light and darkness. There's ALWAYS something to look at in this movie. The script is intelligent and literate with almost uniformly good performances. Basil Rathbone chews the scenery as Wolf. Josephine Hutchinson is given nothing to do as his wife--but she does it beautifully. Lionel Atwill (already typecast as a policeman) is good and very amusing with his wooden hand. Lugosi is really creepy as Ygor. Best of all is Karloff--he uses pantomime throughout the whole picture (even though in the previous "Bride of..." he had learned to speak) and gets every meaning across. He doesn't even really start going until an hour in but he makes up for it!

The only debit is Frankenstein's son played by an annoying child actor named Donnie Dunagan. His acting is laughable (even for a child) and he speaks with a distinct Southern accent!!! Then again he WAS from Texas.

Still, a really good, spooky, elaborate horror film. Highly recommended.
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Karloff, Lugosi and Rathbone in one movie? Someone please pinch me.
Boba_Fett11387 July 2005
What a delightful sight, seeing Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi all together in this movie. Seeing the three of them in one shot gave me a special feeling, these three guys are among the biggest screen legends of all time.

Basil Rathbone is always a big pleasure to watch in a movie, he was a true great 'classic' actor. Bela Lugosi was almost unrecognizable in his role as Ygor and he played his character with lots of passion. Unfortunately the age was showing for Karloff. He was well over 50 years old when he played the Frankenstein monster for the last time in this movie. His 'old' age is truly notable, even through his make-up. I think it was a good thing that he never played the famous classic horror character again after this movie.

The story is still interesting enough to make this movie original, even though the depth and emotions of the previous two Frankenstein movies is missing.

It's a bit strange that the first two Frankenstein movies with Karloff are very well known but this movie is not. This movie is truly excellent and should deserve so more recognition and appreciation. The atmosphere is just as good as from the previous two movies and the monster is still one powerful horror character, even though his role is rather limited compared to the first two movies. This time the real main part is Baron Wolf von Frankenstein played by Basil Rathbone. Some people might be disappointed by this but being a fan of Rathbone I'm not complaining about this.

The movie has enough originality and the story is surely interesting enough to call this movie a worthy addition to the Frankenstein movie legacy. But what made this movie truly interesting and amazing to me, were the three main actors of the movie Rathbone, Karloff and Lugosi.

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Frankenstein III: Monster & Son
lugonian1 November 2001
"Son of Frankenstein" (Universal, 1939), directed by Rowland V. Lee, marked a new beginning to the second cycle of Universal horror: a lavish, stylish, stagy production as well as the longest (94 minutes) movie in the FRANKENSTEIN series. Boris Karloff returns for the third and final time as The Monster, but unfortunately, after such a grand performance in "The Bride of Frankenstein" (1935), in which Karloff got star billing, The Monster in this production is of secondary importance, coming late into the story and spending more than half the film lying in an unconscious state on an operating table inside the lab. Star billing goes to Basil Rathbone as Baron Wolf Von Frankenstein, the son of the scientist who brought nothing but misery in the German town, but the scene stealer in this production happens to be Bela Lugosi, almost unrecognizable as the bearded character of Ygor, possibly his best performance in his latter day career. It features Lugosi in a performance unlike anything he has done thus far, and he virtually helps the story along especially during its numerous slow spots. This also marked his fourth teaming opposite Karloff, but this time, Lugosi outshines Karloff's performance. Then there is Lionel Atwill, another horror film veteran, making his debut in the series, playing a one armed police inspector, another interesting presence to the story.

The story, set in a Gothic German village, finds Wolf Von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) returning by train to the town where his parents once lived. He is accompanied by his charming wife, Elsa (Josephine Hutchinson), and their little boy, Peter (Donnie Donegan). Wolf hopes to make amends to the villagers from what his late father had done (creating a Monster who terrorized their village years ago) and become their good neighbors, but with the Frankenstein name, the family is cursed, and nobody wants anything to do with them. The Frankensteins are first met by Inspector Krough (Atwill), a police official with an artificial arm, claiming to have lost his real arm when he was a young boy when the Monster ripped from his body by the roots, but in spite of all this, Krough is on duty to aide the Frankensteins in case trouble amongst the villagers prevails. Also in the castle where the Frankensteins are staying are Aunt Amelia (Emma Dunn), and Thomas Benson, the butler (Edgar Norton).

While the movie starts off rather slowly, it then comes to life when Wolf encounters Ygor (Bela Lugosi), a crazed bearded shepherd who was once or twice sentenced and hanged for grave robbing, and still lives. Ygor is also the master of the Monster (Karloff), who "does things for him." His coma condition happens to be a result of an aftereffect of being struck by lightning, and Ygor calls on Wolf to help revive the monster.

"Son of Frankenstein" is more of a science fiction nature than horror, since the movie spends a great deal of footage in the laboratory having Frankenstein examining his father's creation and how this physical being has survived such ordeals after finding his heart containing two bullets, etc. But after Karloff's monster is revived, he manages to present himself with some key scenes, such as looking at himself in the mirror and pulling Wolf along side him as a comparison; and the Monster's fondness of children, especially Wolf's little boy who fears him not.

The storyline, however, contradicts what had been said and done in previous movies, such as letting the Monster, who had learned to talk in "The Bride of ...," resorting back to only grunts. It even fails to explain how the Monster had survived his demise from the earlier film. And what's the deal with the woolly garment he is wearing? In spite of these drastic changes, the movie itself is full of characters, ranging from Lionel Bellmore, the Burgomaster in 1931's "Frankenstein," now playing Emile Lang, along with Gustav Von Seyffertitz (the villainous Grimes in the 1926 silent classic, "Sparrows") as one of the jurors. While Colin Clive's Frankenstein character allowed himself to become hysterical in the first two entries, viewers expect and accept this, but when Rathbone's character calls for him to do the same, especially during the dart playing sequence with Krough, this somewhat becomes embarrassing to sit through, in spite that Rathbone is a very capable actor who seldom overacts as he does here.

While not on the same scale as James Whale's earlier carnations of the Frankenstein films, "Son of Frankenstein" is still watchable, mainly because of its Universal staff players, and added sound effects of thunder and lightning, as well as very moody setting made to the comforts of home for the Frankenstein family. The underscoring by Frank Skinner introduced here would be heard time and time again in other Universal horror films of the 1940s. This movie played on numerous cable channels, including the Sci-Fi Channel, American Movie Classics (1991, and again from 2000 to 2002, 2006), and finally on Turner Classic Movies where it premiered in January 2003. It can also be found as a video/DVD purchase or rental. (***)
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plato-111 January 2000
A strong cast (including Boris Karloff in his last screen appearance as the Monster) makes the second sequel to Frankenstein memorable. This time Henry Frankenstein's son, Wolf (Basil Rathbone) revives the dormant monster with the help of Ygor (Bela Lugosi, in his most underrated performance). This is an impressive, intelligent production that scores highly in all departments. 9/10
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The son is even better than the father!
JohnHowardReid10 December 2006
Son of Frankenstein ushered in Universal's Second Golden Age of Horror. Inspired by the turnaway business generated by a double bill revival of the original Dracula and Frankenstein, the new Universal management decided to revive the monster for the third time. Once again, Karloff played the monster (for the last time in the movies) and here he was brilliantly supported by the finest horror cast ever assembled: Bela Lugosi (who for once has a decent-sized role—built up by director/producer Lee—which he plays with admirable intensity); Basil Rathbone (supremely jittery as the misguided baron, Rathbone plays the heir with a clipped, compelling authority that is both convincing yet sympathetic); and Lionel Atwill (probably his most memorable part as the punctilious police inspector who uses his wooden arm as a grotesque prop).

Although the monster doesn't enter for some time, the atmospheric build-up is absolutely terrific. This is achieved not only by clever scripting, skilled acting and a tingling, eerily tense music score (entirely composed and scored in a frantic fortnight, Lionel Newman tells us, in order to meet the pre-set Hollywood premiere on 13 January 1939), but by the amazingly effective use of expressionist sets (superbly lensed by ace cinematographer George Robinson, a specialist in film noirish lighting). Often Lee cleverly keeps the sets right in the foreground, while the players are grouped at the back.

Naturally, as soon as the sets started to receive widespread favorable critical comment, supervising art director Jack Otterson (who had not initially been all that enthusiastic) started to claim credit for the whole idea. Heavily influenced yet quite distinct from Caligari, these "psychological sets", as Jack Otterson called them, represent a remarkable arrangement of oddly angled and slanting lines intersected by heavy masses and shadows. All told, an extraordinary achievement that, although wholly successful, was never again attempted in a Hollywood movie.

On all fronts—screenplay, acting, direction, cinematography, sets and atmosphere—Son of Frankenstein is an absolute winner. Not only the best in the series, it's one of the all-time greats. Its only flaw—and it's a small one—is the occasionally too-stilted performance delivered by young Donnie Dunagan (whom Lee had used in a featured role in 1938's Mother Carey's Chickens and was to use again in a very small part in his 1939 Tower of London starring Rathbone and Karloff).
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What a gem!
casarosa10 February 2007
I recently viewed this in HD on DishNetwork's Monster channel. The pristine quality of the film was wonderful. What a treat! I can't believe I never saw it before. It was obviously the inspiration for Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein," in particular the mechanical arm of Inspector Krogh. Even included the dart throwing scene when Krogh stuck the darts in his wooden arm. Bela Lugosi was hardly recognizable as Ygor. The housekeeper didn't hold a candle (no pun intended) to Cloris Leachman but Josephine Hutchinson (Elsa von Frankenstein) was excellent. I thought the entire cast was terrific and overall the film was well acted. Highly recommended!
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A Quintessential Frankenstein Flick!
JSutton7805 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Son of Frankenstein delivers on all fronts. Sporting great sets, a classically chilling atmosphere, and a superb cast, this has become my go-to movie whenever I'm in the mood for an old fashioned monster flick.

The film differs from many of its kin because its a whooping hour and forty-some minutes long, but it is leisurely paced and not a moment of it comes off as boring. I've heard from various sources that Universal Studios cut the director a bigger budget for this movie. This really shows in the quality of the set designs. While I do believe there is nothing quite like the barbaric infamy of Colin Clive's laboratory, SoF's overly detailed, sulfur pit infested castle and lab rivals it's father.

Speaking of rivaling his father, the titles spotlight character, Wolf von Frankenstein, proves to the audience that he is not just a clone of his father. Wolf (masterfully portrayed by Basil Rathbone) stands out in my mind as one of the best performances in any Universal Horror film. Where Colin Clive's mad doctor boasts a manic and intimidating screen presence, Rathbone's portrayal comes off as warm and caring then spirals into a frantic, guilt riddled hysterical mess. Through his interactions with his wife and son and his desperate attempt to appease the townspeople you get the feeling that Wolf von Frankenstein is a caring, sweet man. Then, sure enough, the old Frankenstein obsession starts to show and when it does the film starts to go a mile a minute. While watching these movies I'm never afraid or creeped out by any means. Modern Hollywood has left me desensitized. However, I must admit that there was a part in this movie that legitimately sent a chill up my spine. I won't spoil it, but when it happens you'll know what I'm talking about.

Opposite of Rathbone is Lionel Atwill playing the persistent Inspector Krogh. Upon first seeing Atwill's introduction in the film, I found myself rolling my eyes and thinking "Here comes the stereotypical, paranoid townsman ready to demonize Frankenstein." I could not have been more wrong. Atwill's Inspector Krogh is one of the most interesting character's I've ever encountered in an old horror film. His sympathy for Frankenstein's family and the cat and mouse game it turns into leaves you invested throughout the whole plot. The entirety of the film you are left wondering who will win, the witty, young doctor or the sharp, weathered inspector. Not to mention, Krogh has a very personal and interesting reason to fear the Monster. In many ways, I found myself regarding Krogh as the hero of the story.

But let's not fool ourselves, we don't watch these movies for the heroes. We watch them for the monsters!

Boris Karlof and an unrecognizable Bela Lugosi are here in full form. This is Karlof's last appearance as the Monster and its a memorable one. His first appearance in this film is not something I'll soon forget. This is not the most aggressive you'll see the Monster, but definitely the most terrifying. This is largely due to the fact that he is being controlled by Bela Lugosi's Ygor, who sports enough cunning to use the monsters as a killing machine. Rather than going on a mindless rampage, the Monster is sent on James Bond-esque missions to assassinate Ygor's enemies. As you witness these murders happening you realize that this makes for a rather disturbing concept.

Lugosi's Ygor is undoubtedly the highlight of this movie. Personally, I found this to be the Hungarian actor's best performance, even outshining his legendary role as Dracula. His lines are delivered with such savagery, you can absolutely tell what kind of a life Ygor has led and what kind of ideas go through his head just from his voice alone. The makeup here is superb (though his wig is a little iffy at times) and Lugosi's dedication to Ygor's unique 'posture' makes you forget that the seductive Hungarian is beneath the beard and fake teeth.

Son of Frankenstein is a must see for any horror fan. I could also see this acting as a 'gateway drug' for budding horror enthusiast. While not as classic as the original or as interesting as the sequel, Son of Frankenstein is exciting and can keep just about anyone entertained. I highly recommend it.
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Enormous Grotesque Sets Matched with Great Gothic Characters
LeonLouisRicci12 December 2016
The Third Frankenstein Film from Universal is a Lot of Things. It has a Heavy, Weighty Appeal with a Handsome, Gothic, Expressionistic Mounting and a Number of Fine, Melodramatic Performances from the Period's Iconic Horror Actors.

Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Lionel Atwill all Deliver Outstanding Characters that Come to Life and give the Picture a Rich Atmosphere of Living-Dread. The Surprise here may be Bela Lugosi in a Meaty Role of "Ygor". Lugosi is Ever Present with a Large Amount of Screen Time and becomes Central to the Plot as He Takes Control of the Movie and the Monster.

Rathbone has Never been More Nervous and Out of His Skin. He becomes Borderline Insane as Things Spiral Out of Control and His Acting sets the Film on an Edge of Eccentricity. Electricity Cuts the Frame as Thunderstorms and Mad-Lab Gizmos Whizz and Whirr as the Movie takes place in a Surreal World with Everything Enormous and Foreboding.

The Sets of Humongous Doors and Arches that Reach the Sky, Adorned with Gargoyles and Attachments that are Barely Accessible by mere Humans. The Art-Design Competes with the Baroque Characters in its Ability to Attract the Eye.

Atwill is Remarkable as the "Inspector" with Memorable Lines and a Presence that is Unforgettable. Even Frankenstein's Wife and Child are in on the Action and the Pathos.

Overall, it is a Winner of a Movie by any Standard and is only Overshadowed by the Two Previous Films that were so Good as to Render this one Third Best by Comparison, but Only by Comparison.

This is a Rich and Rewarding Film with Highlights Galore, Full of Grotesqueries in a Gorgeous Production.
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Must be watched in order. Boris's last time as the Monster!
mike481286 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Better than I remember it, but Ygor (Bela Lugosi), in my opinion, is dreadfully bad, or maybe it's just his cheesy beard and make-up? Basil Rathbone plays Wolf Von Frankenstein and Lionel Atwill is the Burgomaster. Surprisingly, the two strike up a kind of truce-friendship and both end up dumping poor Frankie into the electrically-charged sulfur pit churning under the laboratory. End of movie, but of course The Monster returns in just a few years (in "Ghost of Frankenstein".) Different sets, and the lab is in a two-storied outbuilding attached to the castle, filled with secret passageways and bad acting. The Monster has smoother facial features and Boris plays him masterfully, with pathos and tenderness, although he kills several people of insignificant stature, but never the nanny, wife or child. "Bride" remains the best and most fanciful chapter in these first three movies. You will notice quite a few scenes carried into Young Frankenstein, including the wooden arm, the huge knockers (thank you) and the dart match between "Wolf" and the "Burgomaster".
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Packs a Decent Enough Punch
Uriah4318 April 2013
"Baron Wolf von Frankenstein" (Basil Rathbone) is a decent young man who just wants to start a new life with his beautiful wife, "Elsa von Frankenstein" (Josephine Hutchinson) and son in the castle bequeathed to him upon his father's death. Upon entering the laboratory he encounters a rather unsavory character named "Ygor" (played by none other than Bela Lugosi) who shows him a secret room which contains the crypt of his father and his grandfather. It also contains the live body of the monster known as "Frankenstein" (Boris Karloff) who has been seriously injured. After a thorough examination, and at the urging of Ygor, he decides to bring the monster out of his comatose state. Things begin to spiral quickly out of control after that. Anyway, this is the third film in this series and while it might not be up to the same high standards of "Frankenstein" and "The Bride of Frankenstein", it still packs a decent enough punch. All of the actors did well and the story contains enough suspense and drama to keep things moving along quite nicely. Definitely worth a view for fans of classical horror.
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The Monster That Revived Horror at Universal
TheRedDeath3015 August 2014
In the mid-30s, Universal saw a change in management and slowly moved away from the horror genre. In 1938, however, theaters in the states began showing a successful double bill of Dracula and FRANKENSTEIN which revived interest. Naturally, Universal saw this publicity opportunity and went to work on a new monster movie. The success of this movie would lead to relaunching of all three of their original monsters in the years to come after.

Of those three monster series (FRANK, Dracula and MUMMY), the Frankenstein flicks seems to make the most sense in terms of continuity. Yes, there are plenty of plot points that seem to conveniently forget anything that has come before, but for the most part each movie picks up where the previous left off.

This movie is nowhere near the classic that the first two entries in the series are, probably owing to the loss of director James Whale. It's lacking the Gothic shadows and electrical mad science lab feel of the original. Gone are the whimsical humor (though maybe not a bad thing) and humanization of the monster from BRIDE. Instead, we get a less atmospheric sequel focused more on an evil new character, the son of Frankenstein slowly descending into hysteria and more violence and murder.

The best additions are the two new actors. Bela Lugosi plays Ygor for the first time here and is remarkable. I am a huge Lugosi geek (even loving his poverty row cheapies) but the majority of the time he plays the same character in different clothes. Here, we have his most fully realized character since Dracula. Ygor is an evil little man, hellbent on revenge for a botched execution. Lugosi plays the role well, even using a voice acting that almost eliminates traces of his accent. The other addition is Basil Rathbone as Wolf Von Frankenstein. He does a very admirable job of running through a range of emotion. At first humbled by guilt for the sins of his father, his discovery of the monster leads to the same fervent fever for creation of life that overtook his dad. Eventually, as he realizes the implications of his actions, he begins a descent into hysteria that only culminates in the finale of the movie as he atones for those actions.

The monster is a disappointment, though. In the first movie, we got a sense of his complicated nature, as we see the innocence as well as the monster to fear. In BRIDE, he begins to talk and really develop as a sympathetic creature. All of that is gone here. He is, essentially, a minion of Ygor, sent to do his bidding and we only briefly see glimpses of his humanity. Of course, this is Karloff's last appearance as the monster and it would continue to devolve in the following movies.

This is definitely one of the better Universal sequels and would prove to be the last time Universal sank a large budget into one of their horror offerings. From here, they are all strictly b class.
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"His mother was lightning."
utgard148 June 2014
Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone), the son of Henry Frankenstein from the first two films, has returned to Europe from America to inherit his father's castle. He brings along his wife and young son. They are greeted coldly by the local villagers, who are suspicious of anyone bearing the Frankenstein name. Their suspicions are soon justified when Frankenstein meets Ygor (Bela Lugosi), a graverobber who has a deformed neck due to a botched hanging. Ygor takes Wolf to the comatose body of the monster (Boris Karloff) his father created and the son decides to follow in his father's footsteps by reviving the creature.

The third film in Universal's Frankenstein series and the first without James Whale. It's a terrific movie that adds a lot to the Frankenstein mythos, particularly Ygor. It doesn't get as much respect as the first two Frankenstein films but it really should. It's just as creative and influential. The plots of the Frankenstein sequels that followed would owe more to this film than its predecessors. It would also be the primary source for the Mel Brooks parody movie Young Frankenstein. Rowland V. Lee's direction is impressive and he more than proves himself worthy to follow in the footsteps of Whale. The music by Frank Skinner is wonderful. I love the Expressionistic sets.

The cast is one of the finest Universal ever assembled. Horror legends Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill both have roles here that are career highlights. Lugosi's Ygor is often touted as his best acting performance, something that is very hard to argue against. Atwill's wooden-armed Inspector Krogh is undeniably memorable and might be his finest role as well. For his part, Basil Rathbone plays the part of Wolf brilliantly but he doesn't get much respect from critics, who call him hammy. To me, he's never over the top or distracting in his performance. If he's hammy, it's with a precision that many actors could learn from. This was Boris Karloff's final turn as the monster in the Frankenstein series. While he's given less to work with than the last film, he still manages to create a sympathetic and human monster. The subsequent actors taking on the role would pretty much play the monster as a mindless, hulking creature with little personality. When it comes to actors portraying Frankenstein's monster, there's Boris Karloff and then there's everybody else far down the list. The only oddity in the cast is Donnie Dunagan, the little boy playing Frankenstein's son. He was from the (American) South so he has this noticeable accent that stands out, as well as being a pretty poor little actor. He flubs several lines. Still, for avid fans like myself there's a certain charm to his quirky casting. Perhaps it's because so many of the Universal horrors took place in a blended 19th/20th century fictional world with actors of various nationalities all playing countrymen.

Son of Frankenstein serves as a perfect finish to the series. Yes, there are more sequels but those films, while very entertaining, are not on the level of the original three masterpieces. The trilogy of Frankenstein, Bride, and Son are among the finest, most creative films Universal put out, regardless of genre. There is genuine artistry on display in these three films. While the first two get an appropriate amount of respect and praise, I can't help but feel this one gets the short end of the stick. It's really a fantastic movie and one of my favorites of the entire Universal horror catalogue.
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The Frankenstein Legacy
bkoganbing3 September 2010
For the last time on the big screen Boris Karloff got on the heavy makeup and elevator shoes to play the Frankenstein monster in Son Of Frankenstein. The title role is reserved for Basil Rathbone who has returned with his wife Josephine Hutchinson and and son Donnie Dunnagan to reclaim title to the castle that has the laboratory where his father conducted those experiments that had such an impact on those around the area.

For which reason the local villagers aren't really thrilled to have a Frankenstein family member back in town. Rathbone is as much the scientist as his old man and would dearly love to clear his family's reputation. He gets that chance when the hunchbacked Igor leads him to the monster.

The two roles that are unforgettable in Son Of Frankenstein are Bela Lugosi as Igor and Lionel Atwill as the one armed inspector Krogh. Both certainly were lampooned in Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein, but they are played straight and real here. Lugosi was a graverobber who used to unearth dead bodies for Rathbone's father to experiment on. He was hanged for it and unfortunately for all around it didn't take, just left him with a crooked shape and a thirst for revenge.

As for Atwill as a child his right arm was ripped from its socket and he makes do with what probably was a state of the art prosthetic arm for its time. He's got the biggest score of all to settle with the monster and he bides his time knowing that Rathbone's scientific curiosity will get him experimenting again in the family tradition.

Son Of Frankenstein takes its place in the pantheon of the Universal horror collection. With a cast well versed in the genre even after seventy years, the film still has the capacity to frighten.
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Son of Frankenstein!
Movie Nuttball7 December 2004
This is one of the best sequels in the Universal Monsters series! The monsters look great! Boris Karloff is once again great as Frankenstein's monster! His performance is excellent! Bela Lugosi performs excellently as Ygor! The makeup by both of these actors is really tremendous! The music is great! The acting by all of the actors in this film are really good. In My opinion this is a great sequel to the original! In My opinion I think that its great to have these two characters to be in the same film! If you like Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, the classic Universal Monsters, great black and white movies, and horror films then I strongly recommend that you check out this film today!
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The Rot Is Starting To Set In
Theo Robertson16 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
SON OF FRANKENSTEIN marks the last appearance of Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein monster and it's easy to see why he started to feel unhappy with the character . Where as in BRIDE he gave a memorable performance bathed in pathos here he merely becomes an instrument for Ygor . It's also at this point you notice how clumsy the studio are to continuity . Where as in the previous film the monster has the power of speech here his vocal communication begins and ends with grunts and groans . This clumsy - dare one say ignorant - lack of continuity would dog Universal through the rest of their FRANKENSTEIN franchise

SON is a very mixed bag . One thing noticeable is that war with Germany is on the horizon and America was far less neutral than she was during the last one hence the need for Frankenstein's son to be Anglinised . It's interesting to see the native German characters being both Teutonic and suspicious of outsiders . There's also a noticeable scene where a spy can be easily bought . You can't trust these Germans , especially if they're poised to invade the rest of Europe

Director Rowland V Lee isn't really in the same class as James Whale but does bring a directorial touch to the film . The sets are expansive and impressive and he makes good use of shadow lighting which gives the movie a bleak mood . Unlike the previous two films there does seem to be a large lack of studio exteriors which might make the film more claustrophobic but also makes it appear more static too

He does have an erratic time with the cast though . Bela Lugosi is best remembered as Dracula but as Ygor he probably gives a lifetime best performance and he's the standout character of the film . Karloff is less good because the screenplay by Wyllis Cooper makes him an archetypal monster , ( Though it's interesting to see a reference that erroneously confuses the monster with the creator , a mistake that lasts to this day ) while Donnie Dunnigan as Peter is like most child actors from the period bloody irritating whilst Basil Rathbone as Baron Frankenstein over acts every time he's supposed to nervous

All in all this is a rather uneven film , more so if you've seen either of the first two films very recently . It continues the standard by the earlier FRANKENSTEIN films by blending chills and off beat humour ( " You spat on me " - " No I didn't I was clearing my throat " ) but shows flaws that become more and more apparent in later films of the franchise of poor continuity and having the monster as literally a monster . You can see why Karloff went off to pastures new
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The former Dracula becomes da Bela da Ball.
mark.waltz31 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
More things for Mel Brooks to spoof in "Young Frankenstein" were added to this third installment, and the last in which Boris Karloff played the monster, now mute again, having survived thanks to a flood which ultimately froze him and introduced him to a certain broken-necked former shepherd named Igor. (Not "Eye-Gor" as later spoofed, but the original "Eee-Gor".) Bela Lugosi is outstanding as this pathetic creature who survived hanging and is out for revenge on the men who originally had him put to death. You won't soon forget Lionel Atwill here as the Burgonmeister, having been (off-screen) maimed by the monster when he, as a boy, had his entire arm ripped off from its socket.

The Frankenstein castle looks nothing like it did in either one of the two films, its interior decoration looking like something more out of "The Lion in Winter" than the early 1800's. Basil Rathbone adds on much authority to the morally torn son of the original Dr. Frankenstein, with Josephine Hutchinson equally as disgusted as her unseen mother-in-law Elizabeth over Rathbone's obsession with his father's work. The film really makes an effort, not to outdo the original in horrors, but expand on the story and even give hints of dangers with the European political atmosphere of the late 1930's. Although much longer than the first two entries, it never lags in pacing, and for that, the results are a third installment that retains an "A" status, soon to be reduced to "B's" with its follow-ups that just got sillier and sillier.
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Not so surprising it's a good sequel considering the date
vincentlynch-moonoi31 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
People seem surprised that this is a rather good third film in the Frankenstein series. But I'm not surprised since the original was made in 1931, and this sequel in 1939. Film and sound had undergone tremendous improvements in those 8 years...keep in mind that 1939 was the crowning glory of the all in-color "Gone With The Wind". This film was to be made in color, as well, but apparently they just couldn't get the color of the monster's face reasonable.

We aren't told how many years have transpired since the monster was created and destroyed (or was it?), but you do see a car in this film, and the inspector Lionel Atwill) -- whose arm was torn off by the monster when he (the inspector) was a boy appears to be around 50 years old. Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) -- the son of the creator of the monster -- takes his wife (the marvelous Josephine Hutchinson) and young son (Donnie Dunagan) back to the village where it all began to claim his inheritance. Unfortunately, Rathbone decides to also redeem his father's reputation. But, the villagers still hate everything to do with Frankenstein.

One day, Rathbone stumbles upon Ygor (Béla Lugosi), a crazy old blacksmith who survived being hung for grave-robbing...deformed neck and all. They then find the monster -- in a coma -- in a crypt. Rathbone decides to revive the monster to vindicate his father. The monster seems to have an affection for Ygor, and murders at his command -- all jurors at Ygor's trial. In a fight between Rathbone and Ygor, Ygor is shot and the monster decides to kidnap Rahtbone's son as revenge. But, a more gentle side of the monster prevails and he does not harm the child. Cleverly, the monster is cornered, and in the battle, it tears out the inspector's false arm. Rahtbone manages to save his son by knocking the monster into a boiling sulfur pit.

As the film closes, the villagers cheer the Frankenstein family as they leave by train. Is this the end of Ricco...I mean Frankenstein? Of course not, but that is for future sequels! Make no mistake, this film focuses on Basil Rathbone, and he definitely brings some class to the story line, although his acting is a little over the top when things begin going wrong late in the film. But, it's rather nice seeing him in a role where he is -- for the most part -- the good guy. As far as Boris Karloff goes, he does nothing but lie there comatose for the first half of the film, and then -- finally -- he rolls one eyeball. He does no real "acting" (as it were) until a full hour into the 1 hour and 39 minute film. It is no wonder that he chose to make this his last appearance as the movie monster for many years. Bela Lagosi is bearable here, in part because his face is covered with a scruffy beard. Other character actors do their jobs, with special note being given to Lionel Atwill. A particularly nice touch is when Atwill and Rathbone are playing darts, and Atwill holds his darts by sticking them into his wooden arm! This is a good horror film and well worth watching. The sets are stark and dramatic, and really aid the film. Highly recommended.
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