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29 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

The lesser of the first four films, but still good

8/10
Author: Brandt Sponseller from New York City
12 March 2005

The citizens of the small German town of Frankenstein are once again incensed about Castle Frankenstein. Even though Wolf Frankenstein, son of the original "mad doctor" Heinrich/Henry, has been exiled, and the Monster and Ygor are supposedly dead, the villagers are claiming to have seen Ygor, and they believe that the presence of the Frankensteins has left a curse on their town. So they ask the mayor for permission to destroy the castle; it's granted. After they spot Ygor at the castle their fervor is increased. The destruction reveals the Monster encased in hardened sulfur, which apparently has been therapeutic for him. Ygor takes the Monster and escapes to Vasaria, home of another Frankenstein son, Ludwig. Of course chaos ensues.

Series note: Because the Frankenstein films to this point are as chapters in a novel, it's advisable that you watch them in order. Begin with Frankenstein (1931), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son of Frankenstein (1939), and then finally this film.

As the first three Frankenstein films are all 10s in my view, The Ghost of Frankenstein is a slight letdown. It's still a good film, but the atmosphere isn't quite as creepy, the sets aren't quite as good, the acting is cheesier (especially from Lugosi, who was already mired in serious off-camera personal problems by this point), and the scant running time doesn't help the film develop as well as it should.

Despite the problems, there is much to admire. Director Erle C. Kenton, who began his long career during the silent era, appearing first as an actor in 1915, still gives us nods to the expressionist elements of the previous films. A scene that takes place on rooftops is probably the most direct reference in the series to the production design of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari, 1920). Kenton also references the other Frankenstein films without mimicking them--such as the scene where the Monster appears outside of the heroine's window, or the flashback sequence, which at first might feel like padding, but turns out to be necessary on examination.

Vasaria is just as attractive as the elaborately realized village of Frankenstein in James Whale's films. Ludwig's palatial home, though more contemporary looking--the series continues through this point to modernize its mostly anachronistic settings--is still impressive, even if it can't match the amazing, towering-behemoth sets of the castle. Kenton's interesting point-of-view shots of our new Monster, Lon Chaney Jr., emphasize his hulking size (Chaney was 6 foot 3 and bulky) so that it looks like the sulfur pit was not only rejuvenating but cultivating for the formerly Karloffian Monster.

The look for The Ghost of Frankenstein is much brighter than the previous films. There aren't such deep shadows, the sets are better lit and appear a bit "crisper". For me, while this loses some of the atmosphere, it's attractive for different reasons. The music, a combination of an original score by Hans J. Salter and stock music by Charles Previn, is interesting, particularly for its occasional resemblance (although more traditionally tonal) to Stravinsky's Petrushka (originally written in 1911).

Kenton and writers Scott Darling and Eric Taylor gave this entry a poignant spin by creating what is essentially a discourse on appearance differences, such as ethnic or subcultural identities. The Monster seems to be despised and feared not so much because he is evil but because he is the proverbial Other. He looks different, walks different, and "talks" different; it is because of this that he is considered a monster. While technically, he does commit crimes, they tend to be precipitated by dehumanizing, often violent reactions from the people around him. That's why the Monster has positive relationships with children--the idea is that they have not yet been socialized into dehumanizing the Other. Instead they have positive, curious reactions to him, which he reciprocates. Of course, these subtexts are present in all of the Frankenstein films, but Kenton, Darling and Taylor make it much more overt here. When Ludwig and his assistant are debating dissection of the monster to destroy him, we even get this line of dialogue, "How can you call the removal of a thing that is not human 'murder'?" The Monster is certainly human--he's made only of human parts. But regardless, because of difference, he is dehumanized conceptually, and thus a candidate for relatively casual extinction.

The resolution that Kenton, Darling and Taylor show for the characters in the film dealing with the Other is also informative. To our "heroes", the best answer seems to be physically manipulating him, to a severe extent--it would cause the Monster to lose his personal identity. The goal isn't acceptance of the Other, but molding the Other to be the same as they are.

While this is certainly not the best entry in the series, it's a must-see, as it provides important links in Universal's Frankenstein mythos, which was continued for four more films.

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24 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) ***

8/10
Author: JoeKarlosi from U.S.A.
14 January 2005

An often overlooked and under-appreciated entry in Universal's classic "Frankenstein" series that succeeds as an atmospheric, effortlessly paced monster movie. Dark, stormy nights, crashing thunder and lightning -- all add in setting the stage for a thoroughly satisfying night of chills.

Coming after FRANKENSTEIN, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, this comparatively "B" production benefits from a fine cast who is able to make the unconventional plot line seem quite believable. The dignified Cedric Hardwicke plays the more reserved, second son of the original Frankenstein, who is visited by the ever-sinister Ygor (Bela Lugosi, reprising one of his greatest roles that originated in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN), who now urges that the scientist restore strength to his misshapen friend, The Monster (newly played by Lon Chaney). Working with the dubious help of a spurned medical assistant (the always delightful Lionel Atwill), Frankenstein hopes to right the wrongs of his father by transplanting an educated brain into the monster's head.

After having played the definitive version of Frankenstein's Creation three times already, Boris Karloff vowed not to continue with the series at this point. It must have been a formidable task for Lon Chaney to take over the part for THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN, but while he doesn't make as compassionate a monster as Karloff did, Lon does manage to endow the character with an awesome display of brute strength with his otherwise stone-faced performance.

This also features the lovely Evelyn Ankers as Frankenstein's daughter, and Ralph Bellamy as her heroic fiancé. Special consideration must be given to Hans J. Salter, who fashioned an excellent music score which perfectly compliments the impressive work of director Earl C. Kenton, who was able to take a gradually declining storyline and charge it up with some life. *** out of ****

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21 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

It's Fun...For a 'B' Level Entry !

6/10
Author: jbirtel (jbirtel@bluefrognet.net) from United States
21 September 2002

Boris Karloff was right; to leave the party while the leaving was good. This 4th entry didn't do much to expand the story or the Monster's character. All that was left to do was put new angles on what was already done before (& better).

Nor was Lon Chaney Jr the actor to fill the Monster's boots. Physically, he was bigger and taller than Karloff (just look at their scenes together in 'House of Frankenstein' where Chaney half lifts Karloff off the floor during his panic from the upcoming full moon), but except for his rampages, he was unable to inject any emotion in the Monster's eyes (could hardly see them), or express mime acting to symbolize the Monster's torment.

But this movie is acceptable fun if you can ignore the higher quality of the first three movies. The rest of the cast is way above average and so is the acting. And the ironic fate of all the characters displays the story's dark humor. Frankenstein, Ygor and even the Monster have a difference of opinion of whose brain should ultimately be popped into the Monster's skull.

A nice touch was the three uncredited cameo roles in the opening scene carried over from 'Son of...': the Burgomaster (Lawrence Grant) and the two jurors previously killed by the Monster in 'Son of...'; Lang (Lionel Belmore) and Neumuller (Michael Mark). And of course, Dwight Frye.

A necessary chapter to the next sequel that started the Monsterfest! But you'll need to watch 'The Wolf Man' (before or after 'Ghost of...') before moving on to 'Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man'.

6 out of 10 ! Some classic moments!

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Great Universal Monster Fun!

Author: BaronBl00d (baronbl00d@aol.com) from NC
20 July 2000

The story picks up somewhat after Son of Frankenstein...Ygor...still alive somehow and the monster go in search of the second son of Frankenstein to recharge the monster and ultimately put Ygor's brain in the monster's body.. That at least is the plan. This is certainly not the best of the Frankenstein cycle but it is a lot of fun. Bela Lugosi again chews up scenery as the demented crook-neck Ygor...a malevolent and evil persona that has befriended the "innocent" creature, played with depth and great ability by Lon Chaney Jr. In point of fact...Chaney's Monster ranks closely to Karloff's for his ability to give the monster a third dimension so to speak. His scene with the little girl and her ball is a gem. Lionel Atwill is in this as a bad scientist(a familiar role for him) and again he is very winning in his portrayal. Evelyn Ankers is good in the female lead and Cedric Hardwicke is adequate in his role as the Frakenstein progeny, although somewhat lacklustre to be sure. All in all a good Frankenstein film!

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

You Can't Keep a Good Monster Down!

6/10
Author: (bsmith5552@rogers.com) from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
17 May 2004

"The Ghost of Frankenstein" was the fourth film in Universal's Frankenstein series. Although both the budget and running time had been cut back, it nevertheless remains an entertaining film.

The story picks up following the ending of "Son of Frankenstein" (1939) where the monster and his friend Ygor had apparently perished. Not so. You can't keep a good monster down these days. The villagers (including Dwight Frye) plan to destroy what is left of Frankenstein's castle. As they prepare to blow it up Ygor (Bela Lugosi) is spotted on the castle walls. He had been keeping a vigil over the spot where the monster was believed to have perished.

The explosion reveals the monster (Lon Chaney Jr.) to be alive. Ygor spirits him away just in time and takes him to the village of Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein (Cedric Hardwicke), the second Frankenstein son. The monster takes a liking to a little girl Cloestine Hussman (Janet Ann Gallow) but kills two villagers who try to rescue her. The monster is overpowered and arrested. A trial ensues and the prosecutor Erik Ernst (Ralph Bellamy) tries to find out who and what the monster is. Dr. Frankenstein testifies that he does not know the monster. This sends the monster into a rage and he escapes with Ygor.

Ygor takes the monster to Frankenstein's home and convinces the doctor to help restore the monster to his former strength. Meanwhile his daughter Elsa (Evelyn Ankers) discovers her father's papers and we are shown in a flashback to the original film, how the monster was created. Frankenstein decides that the only thing to do is to destroy the monster.

His father's ghost (i.e. the "Ghost" of the title also played by Hardwicke) appears to him and suggests that giving the monster a new brain would be a better solution. Frankenstein agrees and wants to use the brain of a colleague whom the monster has just murdered. But Ygor convinces Frankenstein's assistant Dr. Bohmer (Lionel Atwill) otherwise and......

Chaney plays the monster as a total mute and shows little emotion except when the little girl is involved. It would be Chaney's only appearance as the monster. Hardwicke lacks the passion of Colin Clive in the two first installments which weakens his performance. Atwill who had played the police inspector in the previous film is suitably sinister as the mad doctor who joins with Ygor. Lugosi again turns in an excellent performance as the evil Ygor. Ankers lets go with a couple of her patented ear splitting screams. Bellamy has little to do as Ankers' love interest and prosecutor.

Oddly enough, even though Colin Clive (who died in 1937) is clearly seen in the flashback sequence as Henry Frankenstein, it is also clearly Hardwicke portraying Henry's "Ghost". Dwight Frye also seen in the flashback, has a small role as a villager at the beginning of the film.

Although the ending is a little over the top, the film is still pretty good thanks to its excellent cast of veteran performers.

Followed by "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman" (1943) in which Lugosi plays the monster.

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Good and certainly enjoyable enough.

7/10
Author: Boba_Fett1138 from Groningen, The Netherlands
5 September 2005

Poor people of Vasaria. When will they ever be left alone? Once again the Frankenstein monster is resurrected and creates chaos and mayhem to the people of Vasaria and once more a son of THE Dr. Frankenstein continues his father's work. No as a part of the Universal Frankenstein franchise this movie of course isn't terribly original but still the movie its story is brought good and original enough to make this movie an enjoyable one to watch.

Lots of 'Frankenstein regulars' show up once again in this movie. Bela Lugosi reprises his role of the deformed Ygor. Lugosi is terribly overacting in most of the scene's but at least its fun to watch. Lionel Atwill this time doesn't play a police inspector like he did so many times before in Frankenstein movie's. This time he plays a doctor/professor that used to be Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein's mentor. The Frankenstein monster himself is this time played be Lon Chaney Jr. and the make-up makes him look like a believable Frankenstein monster.

If you're a fan of Universal monster movies you'll find plenty to enjoy in this movie. It's one of the better/more enjoyable movies that is part of the official Frankenstein franchise and it certainly doesn't have a bad ending.

There isn't an awful lot wrong with this movie but it simply isn't original or refreshing enough to consider this a classic horror-movie. Of course this movie is best and probably only truly watchable and recommendable to those that are fan of the Universal Frankenstein franchise and classic Universal monster movies in general.

7/10

http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

The Tide Turns

Author: Shield-3 from Kansas City, MO, USA
14 November 2001

`Son of Frankenstein,' the third Frankenstein movie from Universal, started a trend. In the first two movies, the Monster was an active force in the story – his actions carried the story along. By the third film, he became a background character, more prop than participant (which is what Boris Karloff feared would happen). By the fourth film in the series, `Ghost of Frankenstein,' the transformation is complete: the Monster is now a supporting character in his own movie.

The real star of the movie is Bela Lugosi as Ygor, continuing his role from `Son of Frankenstein.' Miraculously recovered from death by gunshot wounds, he finds the Monster (now played by Lon Chaney Jr) and sets off the restore his friend to full power. He locates Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein (Cedric Hardwicke), a respected physician in the nearby town of Visaria, and blackmails him into helping with his father's creation. But Ygor is also plotting with Dr. Frankenstein's fellow scientist Dr. Bohmer (Lionel Atwill in his second Frankenstein film) to alter the experiment a little…

`Ghost of Frankenstein' comes across as insubstantial when you compare it to the first three Frankensteins. The acting is decent: Bela Lugosi does a good job hamming it up as Ygor (a far cry from the elegant Count Dracula), and the other players go through their paces admirably. Lon Chaney makes a competent Monster; he can lurch pretty well, and has a few moments of pathos, but he doesn't get much a chance to really act. Of course, that's not really his fault; the script didn't give him much to do.

I suppose `ghostly' is the best word to describe this movie after all. It manages to generate atmosphere and thrills when you're watching it, but it dissipates in the light of day.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Better than its reputation

7/10
Author: gwshogi3 from United States
14 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Snobby reviewers frequently deride Ghost of Frankenstein as the beginning of the decline in quality for the classic Universal horror films, emphasizing the decreased budget, lackluster script, and the lack of Boris Karloff as the monster. Categorically, this film gets unjustly bundled with Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula. However, while it's not up the quality of the films that preceded it, Ghost of Frankenstein is much better than any of its successors, and it has moments that are as good as any in the series. Bela Lugosi shines in the second installment of his greatest role, the demented, broken-necked Ygor, maintaining his tenuous control over the monster. While still a deviant schemer, Ygor is more three dimensional in this film than in Son of Frankenstein. For instance, he shows compassion for the child Cloestine when the monster indicates he wants her brain. Lon Chaney Jr. is no Karloff, but his massive, imposing version of the monster gave this viewer a shudder at one point, the first time the Frankenstein monster has scared me since I was seven years old! The sympathetic scenes when the monster befriends Cloestine are all the more interesting for the contrast with Chaney's unreadable, statuesque visage. In both Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein, it was hinted that the monster--a child himself in one sense--is drawn to children as potential friends. This film is the first to really develop this theme. The scene where the monster retrieves Cloestine's ball is as good as Universal horror gets, especially accompanied as it is by Hans J. Slater's beautiful music score. The score is a tragically overlooked aspect of this film. Next to Franz Waxman's score for Bride of Frankenstein, Slater's score may be the best of any Universal horror film. The script is at times touching, but at times pedestrian. However, director Erle C. Kenton does a laudable job with what he's given. The cinematography is chillingly atmospheric and makes effective, menacing use of shadow. Also to the script's credit, this is the first film to address the obvious solution to the monster's problems: since the real problem is his criminal brain, why not simply give him a normal one? Colin Clive and Basil Rathbone could have done this at any time, but it never occurred to them. Some elements of this film prefigure the Hammer horror series by fifteen years or more: the underground cells for lunatics, all the talk of brain transplants, etc. The last 5 minutes are very effective and made a lasting impression on me as a child, an effect undiminished by the years. All in all, Ghost of Frankenstein is a must see for any classic horror fan.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The George Lazenby of Frankenstein

6/10
Author: 23skidoo-4 from Calgary, Canada
6 May 2004

No one envied George Lazenby when he became the first actor to play James Bond after Sean Connery bowed out of the role. I can only imagine that Lon Chaney Jr. must have felt the same sort of pressure when he was signed to take over the role of Frankenstein's Monster from the great Boris Karloff.

Ghost of Frankenstein is, for some reason, one of the more obscure of the Frankenstein series -- I guess in the same way Lazenby's On Her Majesty's Secret Service is considered one of the lesser known Bond films. Coming on the heels of the Karloff trilogy, it does have a second-hand feel to it that doesn't allow the film to reach the heights of its predecessors.

This is unfortunate because the movie isn't that bad, actually. In terms of inter-film continuity it probably has the strongest ties with the previous film, Son of Frankenstein, thanks to the continuing presence of Ygor (who, for reasons never explained, survived being shot in Son of Frankenstein). Ygor continues to act as Svengali/Pied Piper to The Monster, and Bela Lugosi turns in a performance that in my opinion rivals if not surpasses Dracula. Anyone who thinks Lugosi was a one-note ham actor capable of only variations on Dracula should check out this film and Son of Frankenstein for a revelation.

As the Monster, Lon Chaney isn't bad. Being considerably stockier than Karloff, he somehow appears smaller (blame the sulfur pit, perhaps?). Chaney also chooses to play the role completely mute, a departure from Karloff's growling portrayal. There are several moments where he manages to evoke the types of emotion Karloff was capable of showing under the flat-top -- including a rather puzzling moment where the Monster recognizes Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein, the son of the original Dr. Frankenstein (maybe there's some backstory that we are unaware of?).

Cedric Hardwicke as Ludwig Frankenstein tries hard but is unable to produce the same sort of near-madness that his predecessors Colin Clive and Basil Rathbone exhibited, while Lionel Atwill (playing a different role than the policeman from Son of Frankenstein) has a fairly thankless and somewhat confusingly written role to play in the eventual fate of The Monster.

Universal was not known for its inter-film continuity, and although Ghost manages to tie in quite successfully with Son (if not the earlier films) there are still a few jarring continuity gaffes, the most notable being the use of a different actor for the scene when the original Dr. Frankenstein pays a ghostly visit to his son (hence the source of the title in case you're wondering) -- even though Colin Clive, the original (but by the time this film was made, sadly deceased) actor is clearly shown in a flashback sequence.

Ghost of Frankenstein is far from being the best of Universal's Frankenstein series, but as a middle-of-the-pack entry, it's quite worthwhile. And for serious fans of The Monster who feel that the later "team-up" entries in the series are abominations (that is to say Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein), then this film is pretty much the end of the Frankenstein Monster story.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

A worthy fourth showing for Universal's Frankenstein

7/10
Author: The_Void from Beverley Hills, England
28 March 2006

The third sequel to James Whale's 1931 masterpiece carries on with the idea put forward in Son of Frankenstein, in that the villagers from the settlement where Dr Frankenstein created his monster believe that their home is cursed. This leads us to Castle Frankenstein, where Bela Lugosi's Ygor is holed up. After the villagers burn the castle down, Ygor finds his 'friend', the monster; and the pair travel to the home of Frankenstein's second son Ludwig, whom Ygor hopes will be able to revitalise the monster. The events of Son of Frankenstein don't play too heavily on the plot of this film, and several important plot points have been ignored so that the plot is able to move as the writer wanted it too. This is somewhat annoying, but there are slight attempts to explain the reappearance of certain key characters that go some way to sorting it. The main plot idea is basically the same as Son of Frankenstein, in that it sees a descendant of the original doctor trying to heal his father's monster at the request of the sinister Ygor.

Watching this film, it's obvious where Hammer Horror got a lot of their ideas for the continued story of Frankenstein from. There isn't a lot of reference towards the classic Mary Shelly story, and like Hammer would go on to do; this is a new take on the classic horror story. The Ghost of Frankenstein is hugely enjoyable as long as you don't go into it expecting more than a B-movie picture. The cast give the film many of it's main plus points. Series star Boris Karloff doesn't appear in this instalment, but classic star Bela Lugosi makes up for his absence. Lugosi's Ygor is the main driving force behind this film, and he brings just the right amount of calculation and malevolence to his crippled character. Lugosi is joined by Lon Chaney Jr, who steps into Karloff's role as Frankenstein's Monster. Really, he doesn't have all that much to do; but he's a worthy replacement for Karloff. Cedric Hardwicke is the doctor this time around, and does a fairly good job; while Lionel Atwill swaps his role of the one-armed inspector in Son of Frankenstein for Doctor Frankenstein's immoral assistant. Overall, this isn't as good as the three films that preceded it; but it offers a good time, and if you're a fan of the series, you'll no doubt like this too.

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