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
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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