The Ghost of Frankenstein
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Ghost of Frankenstein can be found here.

After resurrecting Frankenstein's monster (Lon Chaney Jr.) from the sulfur pit (see Son of Frankenstein (1939), Ygor (Bela Lugosi) takes him to Vasaria to see Ludwig Frankenstein (Cedric Hardwicke), second son of Baron Heinrich Frankenstein, the doctor who first created the monster (in Frankenstein (1931). Ludwig tries to undo his father's curse by giving the monster a new brain to replace the brain that his father used, which came from a criminal. After colleague Dr Kettering (Barton Yarborough) is killed by the monster, he becomes the prime donor. Unbeknownst to Frankenstein, however, Dr Bohmer (Lionel Atwill) has made a deal with Ygor to use his brain instead of that of Dr Kettering.

The Ghost of Frankenstein, like all Frankenstein movies, stems from the 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, by 19-year old British author Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley [1797-1851]. The Ghost of Frankenstein was based on a story by Eric Taylor and a screenplay by Scott Darling.

Unlike Son of Frankenstein, in which 25-30 years passed since the monster was blown up at the end of Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Ghost of Frankenstein follows on the heels of Son of Frankenstein, given enough time for Ygor to heal from the three or four bullets that Wolf von Frankenstein pumped into him at the end of Son of Frankenstein. Wolf has taken his family back to America and the monster is still buried in the sulfur pit.

When the villagers blow up Castle Frankenstein, they unwittingly uncover the monster, Ygor notices his fingers moving in the rubble, and he helps the monster get free. Apparently, the 800 F sulfur didn't fry the monster. It merely served to preserve him. Since the castle is destroyed, however, Ygor and the monster escape into the countryside, outwitting the villagers one more time.

Outside of the fact that he's covered with dust, still cannot speak, and appears to have suffered some damage to his eyes (his eyes are shut throughout the movie), the monster seems to be back to his old lumbering self, although Ygor does comment later about his "sick mind" and "sick body." When the monster is struck by lightning in a sudden storm and seems to be somewhat revived, Ygor realizes that lightning is actually the monster's "mother" (his "father" being Henry Frankenstein), so it wouldn't hurt to find Henry's other son Ludwig and get him to harness the lightning and make the monster even stronger.

Dr Ludwig von Frankenstein is living in the nearby village of Vasaria where he and his two colleagues, Doctors Bohmer and Kettering, run a sanitarium for the insane and have just succeeded in removing a human brain, performing surgery on it, and successfully replacing it in the patient's skull.

The film-makers felt that Basil Rathbone (Wolf von Frankenstein) was becoming too well known to the public as Sherlock Holmes, a role he had already played three times (in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939), and Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942)) and would go on playing for 11 more films, so they created another Frankenstein son to take his place.

Ludwig identifies it as "soporific gas."

At first, Ludwig wants to kill the monster by dismantling him piece by piece, but Dr Bohmer convinces him that such a thing would be murder. When the monster kills Dr Kettering, Ludwig decides that placing Kettering's good brain into the monster's body would give the monster the intelligence and compassion that was once possessed by Dr Kettering and that this would make amends for what his father and brother had done.

He doesn't. Ludwig wants no part of putting Ygor's "cunning" brain into the monster's body, so Ygor appeals to Dr Bohmer. Bohmer was once Ludwig's teacher but, through some mistake or "miscalculation" as he puts it, Bohmer has been reduced to Ludwig's assistant. Ygor promises Bohmer that, if he will see to it that his brain is placed in the monster instead of the brain of Dr Kettering, he will give Bohmer anything he wants in return.

Given a choice, the monster would have preferred to have the brain of Cloestine (Janet Ann Gallow), a little girl whose ball he had helped retrieve earlier in the film. But Ludwig refuses to use Cloestine's brain and goes with his original plan of transplanting Kettering's brain into the monster's body. Unfortunately, it turns out to be Ygor's brain.

How does the movie end?

The monster kidnaps little Cloestine so that he can get her brain. In picking up her ball, he knocks over a lamp which sets fire to the house. Ludwig refuses to use Cloestine's brain and gives the little girl to his daughter Elsa (Evelyn Ankers) for safe-keeping. Meanwhile, he performs the brain transplant on the monster. When Cloestine's bones are not found in the aftermath of the fire, her father concludes that she was kidnapped by the monster and, aided by numerous other villagers, they storm the sanitariuim. Elsa's boyfriend and town prosecutor Erick (Ralph Bellamy) is able to subdue the villagers for a short while, long enough for Ludwig to tell him about the operation and assure him that he has restored the good name of the Frankensteins. When Ludwig attempts to demonstrate his "good" monster to Erik, he discovers the moment the monster speaks that it was Ygor's brain he transplanted, not Kettering's. By now, the villagers can wait no longer and proceed with the storming. The sulfurous gas is released, which causes everyone (except Ludwig, Bohmer, and the monster/Ygor) to run back outside. Cloestine is returned to her happy father. Back inside the laboratory, the monster/Ygor goes totally blind. Ludwig points out that Ygor's blood type was not the same as that of the monster and of Kettering so it will not feed the sensory nerves. The monster/Ygor is so angry that he trashes the lab. It catches fire, consuming Ludwig, Bohmer, and the monster/Ygor. In the final scene, Elsa and Erik walk away in each other's arms.

Universal Studios made eight Frankenstein movies, starting with Frankenstein, which starred Boris Karloff as the monster. In The Bride of Frankenstein, the monster gets a mate. In Son of Frankenstein, 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) and treated by Dr Frankenstein's son Ludwig (Cedric Hardwicke). The Wolfman (Lon Chaney, Jr) recovers the monster's body (this time played by Bela Lugosi) from a block of ice and he is revived again by Dr Mannering (Patric Knowles) in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943). In House of Frankenstein (1944), mad Doctor Neiman (Boris Karloff) revives the monster (Glenn Strange) in order to exact revenge on his enemies. In House of Dracula (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 Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) in which Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and Doctor Sandra Mornay (Lenore Aubert) attempt to transplant Wilbur's brain into the monster (Glenn Strange).

Boris Karloff was engaged in the Broadway play Arsenic and Old Lace at the time. It is also said that he had no interest in playing the monster again...which he never again did.

Yes, but not as Fritz (from the first Frankenstein movie). Instead, Dwight Frye plays a nameless villager at the beginning of the movie, when the villagers are trying to get the mayor do to something about the curse that has fallen upon the village, thanks to the Frankensteins. Frye is the one who suggests that the mayor allow them to destroy the castle.

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