Universal decided to take another crack at the horror film, which had faded during the 30s after the success of "Frankenstein" and "The Bride of Frankenstein." The latter was so bad it was high camp.
This one adds a few new elements. Basil Rathbone is the son of the late Baron Frankenstein. He moves into the ancient castle with his wife and little son. When he discovers his father's hidden laboratory, with the aid of the deformed Bela Lugosi, he takes up the same sorts of experiments with the monster's body, bringing forth Boris Karloff.
In the intervening years the monster has forgotten how to speak and has reverted to the growls of the first movie. Rathbone is driven almost mad by his desire to create life and advance science. At times his eyeballs seem incandescent. But Karloff falls under the spell of the wicked Lugosi, who has him go about the village, killing Lugosi's enemies.
There is a violent climax in which the monster winds up par boiled in a bubbling sulfur pit that looks like one of the attractions in Yellowstone National Park. Never fear. He'll be beck.
What's different about this cheap movie is the production design and the set dressing. It borrows heavily from -- dare I say it? -- "The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari." I watched carefully and could find a scant handful of vertical lines in the movie. Houses lean drunkenly. Stark shadows appear at improbable angles. A Krell could walk through the doorways.
All in all, there's not much original in the film, but it's diverting, and if you happen to be in a desolate mood it may cheer you up a bit to see that there are others who are even worse off than you -- the living dead. And at least you can speak.
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