"Big Dan" McCormick is the sole survivor of a bus crash into hydro lines. 5 others were electrocuted. Intrigued by Dan's apparent immunity to electricity, Dr. John Lawrence, distinguished elector-biologist, asks Dan to visit him at his laboratory, where Lawrence's assistant, Dr. Paul Rigas, is secretly conducting experiments to prove his theory that human life can be motivated and controlled by electricity. Rigas persuades Dan to submit to tests, where Dan absorbs increasingly powerful charges until he develops an amazing degree of immunity, and becomes a walking hulk of electricity. Rigas does a final test of pouring a tremendous charge into Dan's body, and Dan becomes superhuman and his body glows. He is also a robot that is controlled by Rigas. When Lawrence tries to stop the experiment, Rigas orders Dan to kill him. Rigas removes the electricity from Dan's body and he becomes a shrunken shell. Despite the efforts of June Meredith, Lawrence's niece, and newspaper reporter Mark ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Based on the story, "The Electric Man" which Universal had purchased for $3,300 in 1935 as a potential Boris Karloff / Bela Lugosi vehicle to be titled "The Man in the Cab." The studio, in the midst of a financial debacle at the time, shelved the project for over five years, assigning the re-write to George Waggner (working as "Joseph West") who re-tooled it as "The Human Robot." See more »
Dr. John Lawrence:
[to Dr. Rigas]
With all the constructive things to be done, why do you concentrate on destruction?
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Overlooked Universal sci-fi film that features one of Chaney's finest performances
Lon Chaney Jr. was often stuck in lousy if entertaining b-films, due to various reasons (typecasting, difficulty to work with due to his chronic alcoholism), but occasionally the man proved himself to be an extremely good actor. I'm always surprised to see him give a literally good performance, but he comes through every now and than, creating horror protagonists the viewers can feel sympathy for. He did it in "The Wolf-Man", "Spider Baby", and he does it in "Man Made Monster", an unfortunately overlooked second tier Universal monster flick.
"Man Made Monster" is very good for several reasons. As mentioned above, Chaney turns in one of his finest performances. Lionel Atwill is superb also, but hes always fantastic. Here he plays a villain thats never remotely over-the-top yet always purely evil. Also, the screenplay is well written, with likable characters you can always feel sympathy for. The direction by George Waggner keeps everything moving at a very quick pace, even though the actual monster doesn't turn up until over half way through. The short running length of an hour helps out as well, and the material manages to be satisfyingly developed despite the brevity. The only negative aspect is the dated romantic subplot involving a newspaper reporter and the daughter of one of the scientists, but those were often expected in this kind of film. "Man Made Monster" is a nice little gem that satisfies the target audience. (7/10)
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