"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>
This has been one of the most elusive of the Universal Horrors for me a fellow member here in particular knows that for a fact; having caught up with it finally via ulterior sources, I still had to go through a variety of hassles as my copy froze no less than three times during its brief 60-minute duration and pixellated twice besides! Anyway, while I cannot say that MAN MADE MONSTER scales the heights of the best the studio had to offer in its heyday, this is as good a B-movie as they turned out (especially coming from their second phase). Of course, it introduced Lon Chaney Jr. into the fold of Universal horror stars: "The Electric Man" (an alternate title for the film itself) a sideshow performer who survived both a bus crash and electrocution proves a nice antecedent (going from vigor to sheepishness and from wild-eyed disbelief to self-destruction) to his signature role of Lawrence "The Wolf Man" Talbot; actually, he supports Lionel Atwill who is in top (that is to say, over-the-top) "Mad Doctor" form here, especially relishing those scenes in which he tries to persuade others to his radical credo (basically constituting megalomania). Interestingly, the film was originally intended as yet another pairing of Universal's two reigning genre icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi and, in point of fact, it does play quite a bit like THE RAVEN (1935)! The rest of the cast includes Samuel S. Hinds, who made his fair share of films in this vein, as Atwill's eminent superior and the first to take interest in Chaney's case (also, cluelessly but hilariously suggesting to Atwill that he drop the experiments and 'help himself to some cheese and beer' instead!) and the obligatory romantic couple i.e. pretty Anne Nagel (as Hinds' niece/secretary, who is sympathetic to Chaney) and Frank Albertson (as conveniently a reporter who, for love of the heroine, is in two minds about what to do with the scoop of his life). As expected, the film particularly scores in the make-up (Chaney's constant 'treatments' lend him an effectively sickly, even aged, countenance) and special effects (his imposing glowing automaton comes courtesy of a master, John P. Fulton) departments. And while MAN MADE MONSTER is kind of short on action during its first three-quarters, it more than makes up for this with a terrific climax which sees Chaney being tried, convicted and executed for Hinds' murder but, since he is impervious to electricity, he breaks free to exact well-deserved retribution upon the man who ruined his life; arriving just in time to save Nagel from Atwill's clutches, typically for a Universal Studios monster, he then makes off with her into the countryside (chased by the authorities and Albertson) towards his doom. There are, however, a couple of unexpected touches as well its stance against capital punishment (the heavy heart evident in the people assigned the grim task) and the pained reaction of Chaney's devoted mutt at his demise.
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