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It's Fun...For a 'B' Level Entry !
jbirtel21 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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The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) ***
JoeKarlosi14 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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The George Lazenby of Frankenstein
23skidoo-46 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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The lesser of the first four films, but still good
BrandtSponseller12 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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Better than its reputation
gwshogi314 August 2009
Warning: 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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Good and certainly enjoyable enough.
Boba_Fett11385 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.

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You Can't Keep a Good Monster Down!
bsmith555217 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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Great Universal Monster Fun!
BaronBl00d20 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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The Tide Turns
Shield-314 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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Really good for the fourth in a series
dfranzen7014 October 2014
Here we go again. In the grand tradition of Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939) comes the fourth in Universal's series. This time around, the crazy doctor of the title is Ludwig (Sir Cedric Hardwicke), the brother of Basil Rathbone's character in Son of and the (other) son of Colin Clive's original Dr. Frankenstein in the original and Bride of movies.

A generation or so has passed since the villagers last destroyed the Monster in a sulphur pit. But, of course, he's only mostly dead, and his old pal Ygor (Bela Lugosi) holds vigil outside the old Frankenstein castle, hoping the creature will revive himself. At the same time, angry villagers are mobilizing; they decide that there's a Frankenstein curse that's prohibiting their crops from growing and businesses outside of town (named after Frankenstein, for some reason) are refusing to deal with them. The curse must be broken, so off the villagers go to burn down the castle. The explosion indeed wakes up the preserved Monster, and he's reunited with his old pal Ygor.

There's another Frankenstein a village or so away, as the crow flies - Ludwig. Ludwig, who runs an insane asylum out of his house, also works for the police; when the Monster is captured and put on trial, the good doctor is called in to deal with the situation. But Ygor, he's a cunning sort, and he persuades Ludwig to get the Monster remanded to Ludwig's own castle so that Dr. Frankenstein can work on giving the Monster a nice, new brain. (There appears to be some brain damage for the big guy; he can't speak, as he could - haltingly - in previous films, and simple logic isn't his forte.) Ygor, he of the broken neck from being ineptly hanged, wants his own brain to be placed in the creature's cranium.

The setting is as eerie and stark as in other Universal monster movies. Hidden rooms, long staircases, vaulted ceilings - it's a realtor's dream. Ludwig also has a grown daughter Elsa (Evelyn Ankers, another Universal staple), who's probably named after Elsa Lanchester, who starred in Bride of Frankenstein. Elsa's boyfriend is Erik Ernst (Ralph Bellamy), who's stuck between the mob rule of the town and his fondness of the Frankensteins. Lionel Atwill plays one of Dr. Frankenstein's doctor associates. Lon Chaney, Jr., by the way, grunts his way around a macabre set as the Monster itself.

For a movie that's the fourth in a series, Ghost of Frankenstein (so named, perhaps, because the ghost of the original Doctor appears) is competently acted, directed, and shot. No, more than that, it's expertly done. There's some overacting (Ankers), to be sure, but overall it's a very well realized hidden gem among Universal's many horror movies of the early 20th century.
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As decent as this sequel is, it was running on fumes!
callanvass1 May 2015
Ygor resurrects The Monster and brings him to Ludwig Frankenstein for help. Ludwig wants to replace The Monster's brain with a brain that does good deeds. Ygor wants to give the Monster his brain. I thought this sequel wasn't bad. It keeps your attention throughout and offers some decent suspense. They also learned from their mistake from Son of Frankenstein, trimming it from over 90 minutes back to over 60. As technically sound as this sequel is, this series was really beginning to feel tired. Karloff is no longer here and the magic is gone. It really seemed like they were doing anything to keep making money off the franchise. The Monster is no longer special. Lon Chaney Jr. is pretty good as The Monster, but he can't fill Karloff's shoes. It didn't feel genuine at all. Bela Lugosi is a lot of fun and was one of the main reasons why this was as watchable as it was. Cedric Hardwicke is solid as Ludwig. He's always reliable. Lionel Atwill returns as a different character, which I didn't understand. Evelyn Ankers is one of my favorite horror actresses, so I'm biased.

This is perfectly acceptable for a sequel, but the thrills are gone. This series was running out of gas at this juncture. It was far from being done though.

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Frankenstein's Monster Starts Losing Steam
brando6472 October 2012
Squeezing every little bit of profit out of a popular film franchise is not a new practice. It may feel like a modern convention to run a franchise into the ground as long as the audience is willing to shell out the cash, but it's been going on for decades. Universal Pictures struck gold with their classic series of movie monsters and, as a result, they were sure to release as many films as audiences would pay to see. THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN was the fourth film from Universal with their famous shambling abomination. It was at this point that the series was starting to lose a bit of steam. I suppose there is only so much you can do with a creature like Frankenstein's monster without retreading the same ground. The movie opens with the inhabitants of the village of Frankenstein demanding justice. They believe they've lived under the curse of Frankenstein long enough and a rash decision is made to burn Frankenstein's castle to the ground. In the process, the mob makes the unfortunate mistake of freeing Frankenstein's monster from the sulfur pit in which he's trapped and unleashing him again on the world. Knowing the village will never let them rest, the eternally loyal Ygor helps the monster escape to the town of Vasaria. In Vasaria, Ygor seeks the aid of Frankenstein's other son, Ludwig. A successful neurosurgeon, Ludwig might be just the help Ygor needs in utilizing the monster's incredible power for his own needs. His goal: to transfer his brain into the body of the monster and gain his strength.

The problem with the Frankenstein movies is that they all follow the same pattern: monster on the loose, angry mob with torches, evil science that is an affront to nature. We all know the drill. The first movies were great but I wish the later movies had either tried to break out of the mold or put the monster to rest. GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN finds yet another relative of the original mad scientist being brought into the mix. He is, of course, a talented scientist in the field of neuroscience, having removed a brain for surgery and replaced it successfully back in the skull. This is too good an opportunity for the devious Ygor, portrayed by Bela Lugosi. Lugosi is the best part of this movie as the evil hunchback. He is conniving and simple-minded, desperate to protect his only "friend", the monster. All he wants is to be forever unified with his friend and, if he happens to become immortal and all-powerful in the process, all the better. Lugosi is the only stand out performance in the movie. Cedric Hardwicke is nothing special as the tortured Ludwig, forced into a position where he must resort to extreme measures. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders, but why he would agree to save the monster from dissection (the only means of truly killing it) is beyond me. Even more baffling is the motivation behind the less-then-noble Doctor Bohmer (Lionel Atwell). Ygor offers him power, wealth, and the respect of his field if he agrees to sneak Ygor's brain into the surgery, but why would Bohmer, an intelligent man in his own right, believe the empty promises of an evil man such as Ygor? I don't know. He just does. Roll with it.

It's all good though. I'm not worried about some poor character decisions. It all works within the scope of the movie. It's a classic creature feature with all the usual tropes we've come to expect. It doesn't rise to the level as the original, and certainly not as high as BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. It's still an entertaining film, even if it feels a tad generic at this point. Lugosi is great, and Lon Chaney Jr. stands in well enough since Boris Karloff had left his iconic role at this point. If you're a fan of the classics, you can't go wrong with this fun little time-waster. As far as I'm concerned, even the weakest Frankenstein movie is still a more enjoyable tale than a lot of modern films.
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Last of the Universal-International classics
SanFernandoCurt11 February 2010
"Ghost of Frankenstein" ended the 11-year run of Universal's classic horror films, which began with "Dracula" and the original "Frankenstein". Bela Lugosi repeats his role as the lugubrious "handyman" Ygor from "Son of Frankenstein", giving the movie a sense of continuity. Boris Karloff had migrated to Broadway for a few years, and so was unavailable for the title role he'd created. The chores, and the patented Jack Pierce makeup, go to Lon Chaney Jr. He's not bad. A different monster than Karloff, he's more beefy, physically menacing, and, so, scarier in a way. It has hints of a true ghost story, with detective tale elements, although there is no mystery, of course, with a title like this. And what a cast! Interestingly, Atwill does NOT repeat his role as the maimed police official from "Son..." and he's at his malicious best in this one. For classic horror completists, a must. After this entry, the Universal monster series deteriorated to the "monster reunion" films in which they'd all show up to contribute mayhem - "Hey, Dracula! How ya doin', Wolfman!"
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It still lives on.
lost-in-limbo6 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The townsfolk who live near Frankenstein's castle decide to finally finish the job and blow it to the ground. Ygor who lives in the rubbles manages to escape and in doing so discovers the Monster in a sulphur pit. So Ygor and the monster head to the town of Vasaria to see if Ludwig Frankenstein (the son of Henry Frankenstein and brother of Baron Wolf Frankenstein) will help them out and cure the monster. This means finding him a new brain, and Ygor wants the doctor to put his brain into the monster.

Even a weak "Frankenstein" sequel is a diverting, and highly amusing offering. No matter how much they re-use the old-hat formula, the imaginative and crisp look of the film's set designs (not up to par with earlier films though) and effects always seems to win out for me. And how can I forget the iconic monster itself! This time we have Lon Chaney Jr. taking over Boris Karloff's mantle, and there's a splendid cast on hand featuring Ralph Bellamy, Lionel Atwill, Cedric Hardwicke and a scene chewing Bela Lugosi as the enthusiastically sly Igor. Lugosi is the burning flair, and while Lon Chaney does a resourceful job. He's no Karloff. The material is not as deep and thoughtful as it's highly regarded predecessors, but the patchwork script ends up turning into b-grade shenanigans shooting at the straight and narrow. At least the nippy pace makes sure it never truly flags about, and there are some effective set-pieces laid out by Earl C. Kenton's able direction. The music score on the other hand, can fall into the overkill category and tries to hard to leave a mark in every possible sequence. There's no harm to the legacy, but neither is it an impressive addition. But otherwise I've always enjoyed these Universal monster features, no matter what the quality is.
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A worthy fourth showing for Universal's Frankenstein
The_Void28 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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Worthy Entry in the Series
dougdoepke13 October 2016
Universal was a budget studio. Nonetheless, that opening scene is a real grabber, well- mounted with burning torches, lurid lighting, and charging mob. Fans know that means monster Frankenstein's on the loose. Yes, he's back from the pit he fell into in the last entry. Nothing's surer than death, taxes, and Frankenstein's return, even if it takes Hammer Studios to eventually rescue him from an Abbott and Costello spoof (1). Then too, the passage with the monster helping the little girl despite an angry crowd is poignantly done. I hope they paid little Janet Gallow triple for getting carted around by the big guy like a bag of groceries.

The rest of the hour is fairly routine plot-wise. Seems Dr. Frankenstein's son, grandson or whatever (Hardwicke) wants to put a nice guy's brain into the walking cadaver. Trouble is Ygor (Lugosi) wants his own brain installed so he can replace his stunted body with a giant one. So, who's going to get the dubious prize. On the other hand, Ralph Bellamy gets a top billing and about 5-minutes of screen time, while ravishing Evelyn Ankers also gets a top billing but not even one photogenic lung blaster. Anyway, Lugosi gets to ham it up, while Hardwicke and Atwill provide the dignified menace.

For a programmer, the hour's an especially well-mounted production with crackling arcs, secret passages, and capable cast, all adding up to a worthy addition to the nutty series.

(1) Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, (1948).
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Your father was Frankenstein. Your mother was lightning.
Spikeopath2 October 2015
Of course the problem with the Frankenstein sequels, of the Universal Studios kind, was that they had to follow the genre firework that was Frankenstein (1931) and the monolithic titan that followed that one in 1935, The Bride of Frankenstein. These are tough acts to follow; still are actually!

Son of Frankenstein (1939) managed very well, it had Basil Rathbone in it and Bela Lugosi giving great horror oomph as Ygor. Boris Karloff bowed out as the monster after that one, leaving an iconic legacy and an insistence that the monster didn't speak. The result of Karloff's (ahem) request has proved divisive amongst Frankenstein fans, does it need a voice for personality, or is it better off as a lumbering rage machine only? Point being that in this one, he gets a voice, courtesy of Lon Chaney Junior's stint in the role, and it's not exactly a success.

Ghost of Frankenstein represents the start of the decline of the franchise, a noticeable drop in quality across the board. It's like Universal caught the cash cow disease and decided that quantity and not quality was what mattered. They would eventually team up the bolted necked one with Abbott and Costello, with fun results, but the horror aspects began to wane here in 1942. Lugosi is on hand for some more Ygor mischief, Cedric Hardwicke and Lionel Atwill as scientists with opposite ideals are reassuring presences, while Evelyn Ankers is sexy and costumed with a great eye for detail.

At just 67 minutes in length the film thankfully doesn't have time to be boring, though action is in short supply, so hooray for castle destruction and fire unbound! While Woody Bredell and Milton R. Krasner, via their photographic lenses ensure Gothic atmosphere is consistently ripe. Right, it's time for Universal Monster Tag Teams next... 5/10
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You can't keep a good monster down.
mark.waltz31 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Scraggle-toothed Igor is back, protecting the monster who once again survived, and he is even more evil than ever. Now Basil Rathbone's doctor has been replaced by his brother (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) who, along with an assistant (Lionel Atwill, given back his arm after granted a new part after the third installment) who longs to put a decent brain in the misunderstood monster. But Bela Lugosi's Igor longs to get out of his broken-necked body and into Frankie boy's, and that's where the horror comes in. Scream queen Evelyn Ankers gets more than her share of horror as Hardwicke's daughter, with Ralph Bellamy her love interest here after their earlier pairing in "The Wolf Man".

Former "Wolfie" Lon Chaney Jr. takes on the role of the monster here, properly grunting and snorting as directed, but by this point, the monster wasn't really about the heart that Karloff had instilled, mainly to scare the people who sought to stop him. The presence of a little girl whom the monster befriends seems an effort to write the wrongs of the poor child in the first film, but unlike Karloff's monster, this one really is a total nightmare. Quite "B" looking as compared to the first three, it manages to remain entertaining with Lugosi enjoying every moment being over the top, basically running rampant over everybody else in the film.
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Entertaining entry in the Universal franchise.
Hey_Sweden13 October 2012
"The Ghost of Frankenstein" inevitably falls short when compared to the knockout films in this franchise that preceded it: "Frankenstein", "Bride of Frankenstein", and "Son of Frankenstein". The atmosphere just isn't as strong, nor is this ever terribly spooky. It's still solidly entertaining, it's just not as classic as the others. Part of the problem is Lon Chaney (Jr.), who shambles and pantomimes adequately, but doesn't invest the Monster with the same amount of emotional torment as Karloff. The story picks up as "Son of Frankenstein" ends, with your standard Angry Villagers Bearing Torches laying siege to Castle Frankenstein and destroying it; however, sinister Ygor (Bela Lugosi reprises the role with great relish) and the Monster survive. They make their way to a new village where Ludwig Frankenstein (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) is a psychiatrist; unfortunately, the Monster kills some people and is brought to trial. After it escapes, it finds refuge in Ludwig's abode; Ygor succeeds in getting him to help by blackmailing him. The good thing is that Ludwig thinks he's finally hit upon the best way to reform the Monster and turn him "good". God help the Frankenstein family, they'll try anything to restore their good name, and things just always seem to turn out badly. A top notch cast makes everything quite easy to watch, with Lionel Atwill as Ludwig's self serving, sneaky colleague Doctor Bohmer, the beautiful Evelyn Ankers as Ludwig's daughter, Ralph Bellamy as prosecuting attorney Erick Ernst, and adorable young Janet Ann Gallow as the child Cloestine, who isn't intimidated by the Monster. (A *very* young William Smith, eventually to become a tough guy B movie icon, is one of the village children as well.) In fact, it's the actors who help to really sell this sequel, although the story isn't bad and comes up with some amusing twists, such as the differing opinions on just whose brain should end up inside the Monster. Things come to a comfortably predictable finale where the house comes down. The best moments tend to involve Ygor, who proves to be as interesting a character as he was in "Son of Frankenstein". Not too memorable in the end, but an enjoyable watch just the same, and at a mere 68 minutes long it doesn't overstay its welcome. Seven out of 10.
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Father Frankenstein & Mother Lighta-ning
simeon_flake9 February 2005
The fourth Universal monster epic opens with the touch of having darkened trees & swirling fog serving as background for the opening credits, ala 'The Wolf Man' and gets rocking right away as the ever present mob of villagers in the town of Frankenstein badger the mayor into letting them destroy the castle where the monster & his friend Ygor reside, a means that will supposedly erase the curse of Frankenstein.

As he did in the previous "Son Of..." movie, Lugosi steals the show as the malevolent Ygor (and he seems to be having a lot of fun doing it). Lon Chaney's monster, though a bit stiff at times, does a very good job (imo). It's true that for most of the film, Chaney is rather poker-faced, but this monster of "Ghost" comes off looking a lot more human than the automaton Karloff nearly gets reduced to in 'Son...'. He befriends a little girl & thinks he's doing no wrong as he goes to retrieve her ball but finds himself being attacked by irrational villagers who seem to be in every city the monster inhabits. The monster (for the most part) only kills in self-defense.

Another plus for Lon's monster is that we don't have to wait 50 minutes into the movie to see him up & moving. And maybe as a side-effect of being knocked out & rejuvenated so much, the monster is very temperamental at times towards Ygor. He doesn't hesitate to knock him around whenever he's not in the mood for taking orders. >:] Of course, there is that one big plot-twist in the movie, that at this point in time, the Universal executives had no apparent trouble with until 1943 for some odd reason:


The ending with Ygor's brain being put in the monster's body and the latter's regaining the ability of speech, albeit with Lugosi's voice.
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Ghost of Karloff
kairingler10 September 2008
Even though this may be considered the weakest link in the legacy series of Frankenstein films,, 31-44. i rather enjoyed this one,, Lon Chaney Jr. plays the monster this time,, it was said that Boris Karloff didn't wanna be the monster no more,, because he felt that the series was getting to campy so to speak,, Bela Lugosi is also back as Ygor again,, boy you just can't seem to kill Ygor either,, hang em,, shoot him,, he just seems to come back for more. Frankenstein and Ygor in this one seek out the good dr's second son, to see if they can switch brains in this one,, and have the monster wind up with Ygor 's brain,, now folks that's a scary thought,, again the monster speaks in this one,, which i think is very very good,, this one should have a higher rating overall,, it's n ot a bad film at all,, and Lugosi,, and Chaney Jr. did a great job in it.
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the second son of Frankenstein
vampi19604 September 2006
Ghost of Frankenstein takes place after 1939's son of Frankenstein. this time the second son of Frankenstein(sir Cedric hardwicke)who is a mental health physician picks up where his brother left off.the monster(Lon Chaney Jr)and ygor(Bela Lugosi)seek him out for help.but the good doctors assistant(Lionel atwill)has other ideas.the beautiful Evelyn ankers plays Dr Frankenstein's daughter.Ralph Bellamy as her boyfriend. i would call this the weakest in the series but still very enjoyable. i actually love the whole universal Frankenstein series,after this there was 4 more;Frankenstein meets the wolfman(43)house of Frankenstein (44)house of dracula(45)and the comedy classic Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein(47)anyway i give ghost of Frankenstein 8 out of 10.a good universal b movie with a great cast.
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Boris Has Left The Building
slokes31 October 2009
The fourth Universal Frankenstein movie has Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, the usual angry villagers, and scream queen Evelyn Ankers, but it's notable more for what it doesn't have: Boris Karloff.

Boris hung up the deadbolts and the platform shoes after making the previous Frankenstein movie, "Son Of Frankenstein". What's left is an entertaining if hectic creature-feature made on the cheap that gives old zipperneck another lap around Frankenstein Castle for cheap thrills.

The best thing in the film is Lugosi's Ygor, the hunchbacked horn-playing malcontent from "Son" who is back despite his apparent death in the earlier film. Lugosi invests Ygor with more menace and more sympathy this time, showing his character to be sweetly dependent on the comradeship of the mute monster while nursing an insane grudge against the community that has hounded him.

Lugosi was actually in more "Frankenstein" than "Dracula" movies, though he played Dracula in "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein". He played Ygor as often as Dracula on film, and perhaps found Ygor a better part for channeling his inner pathos. Watching him frantically chase the Monster, crying: "He is all that I have! Nothing else!" is to feel something beyond the limits of genre. To the extent "Ghost" works, it does because of Lugosi.

What doesn't work is the nominal lead, Cedric Hardwicke as the second son of Dr. Frankenstein. Throughout the film, whether menaced by the Monster or blackmailed by Ygor, he carries the mien of a lord who has just overheard someone break wind at a fancy dinner. Ankers and Ralph Bellamy as her suitor seem to have wandered in from a romance filming on an adjacent set. Atwill is at least menacing in a minor role, though his jealous doctor is not well integrated into the rest of the story.

I don't agree with the negative comments about Lon Chaney Jr. as the Monster. He had a major challenge filling Karloff's part, and was all wrong physically for the cadaverous creature, but he still manages a serviceable performance, and rises to something more when opposite Janet Ann Gallow's little Cloestine. Unlike many child actors of this period, she manages to do more than look cute as the apple of the Monster's heart, and Chaney does a lot here with his silent stares. A nice shot captures him staring down at the child, and the viewer, his eyes so pathetic but the rest of him so menacing you don't know what to think.

Was the Monster truly bad or not? The Frankenstein films seem to go in different directions. In the first film, and in "Son", the monster is a mad killer. In "Bride" he was more a victim of intolerance. Here he's played, interestingly, somewhat in the middle. He kills people, including one hapless doctor who isn't in the Monster's way at all, but seems as unhappy about his nature as anyone else.

Ultimately, you wish director Erle C. Kenton and the screenwriters were as interested in the character of the Monster as they were in making a horror cheapie short enough for Saturday matinees. They had a chance at creating something lasting, rather than just campy and intermittently entertaining. It's not bad, just a bit soft, enough to make you think Boris took the soul of the Frankenstein films with him when he left.
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A great movie -- but rather confusing!
Bruce_Cook7 December 2003
A film with so many plot twists, every reviewer's synopsis makes it sound like a different movie. And no wonder -- even the characters (and their players) are confusing. Bear in mind that this is the fourth film in the series, a sequel to `Son of Frankenstein'. It's own sequel is ` Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man'. The director was Erle C. Kenton.

First, let's straighten out who plays who.

Sir Cedric Hardwicke plays a relative of Victor Frankenstein, a doctor who wants to put a normal brain into the monster. Bela Lugosi again plays Ygor, the evil hunchback shepherd -- despite the fact that Ygor died in the previous movie. Lionel Atwill is Hardwicke's assistant -- despite the fact that he played a one-armed policeman in the previous film. Lon Chaney, Jr., (`The Wolf Man') does NOT play the Wolf Man -- he plays the monster. But he ends up with Bela Lugosi's brain, because Lugosi tricks Hardwicke into putting his brain into Chaney (?).

Meanwhile, Dwight Frye, the actor who played Dr. Victor Frankenstein's crazed assistant in the original film, plays a concerned villager in this one. Evelyn Ankers and Ralph Belamy are among the cast -- but I'll be darned if I can remember WHO they played . . .

And now let's deal with the convoluted plot, which goes like this;

The monster allegedly kidnaps a little girl (actually she befriends him), and the townspeople put him on trial for kidnapping. He escapes and gets his brain swapped for Lugosi's, then he goes blind because the Lugosi-brain blood type is wrong for the monster's body. The blind Lugosi-brained monster goes berserk, destroys the laboratory, and gets burned up in the ensuing fire.

There, now -- THAT should clear things up once and for all! (?)
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Frankenstein IV: Ygor's Brainchild
lugonian17 August 2002
"The Ghost of Frankenstein" (Universal, 1942), directed by Erle C. Kenton, resurrects both the Frankenstein series and its monster(s) for another horror-go-round. This, this fourth edition, begins at the town hall where villagers, in fear of an evil curse, want to persuade the judge to grant permission for them to go and blow up Frankenstein's castle. For the benefit to those who haven't seen the third installment, "The Son of Frankenstein" (1939), it's briefly explained by one of the villagers that Wolf, the son of Frankenstein (played by Basil Rathbone) has brought back to life his late father's creation (Boris Karloff), only to have it terrorize the town once more, with the help of a crazed shepherd named Ygor (Bela Lugosi), who used the monster to carry out his evil deeds and kill off those jurors who found him guilty and sentenced to be hanged. Afterwards, Frankenstein does away with both evil doers by shooting down Ygor with bullets and pushing the Monster to his doom into a boiling sulpher pit. The judge then grants permission to have the castle destroyed. As the villagers carry out their mission, they find Ygor very much alive and well, living in the castle. The castle is then dynamited, but before it is gone entirely, the pressure of the blast releases the Monster (now played by Lon Chaney Jr.) from his prison of the hardened sulpher pit to freedom. Ygor thus takes his friend, the Monster, away and to another village, where lives Ludwig (Sir Cedric Hardwicke), the second son of Frankenstein, now a surgeon who practices on the diseases of the brain, with Doctor Theodor Boumer (Lionel Atwill), as one of his assistants. Also living with Frankenstein is his daughter, Elsa (Evelyn Ankers), who's in love with her father's associate, Doctor Eric Giffrey (Ralph Bellamy). While at the village, the Monster encounters a little girl, Cloestine (Janet Ann Gallow) who, unlike the other villagers, fears him not. After the Monster is taken to jail, comes to Frankenstein for assistance, but refuses. After the Monster escapes, he and Ygor come to Frankenstein home, where the monster rests of the laboratory table. Frankenstein makes the decision to at first destroy his father's creation, but after his father's ghost appears to him, decides otherwise by performing an operation replacing the evil brain of the Monster with a sensible one. But who's? After Doctor Kettering (Barton Yarbrough) is found murdered, it is decided to transplant the deceased man's brain into the Monster's head. Ygor on the other hand wants his brain planted into the Monster's head, while the Monster, who has just taken Cloestine from her home, wants the child's brain instead. Which brain will be used? A no-brainer situation.

"The Ghost of Frankenstein," which lacks logic, is the first in the series of Universal quickies (usually about 70 minutes, more or less), gearing more to the enjoyment of the Saturday matinée crowd than to just adults. The first three films were class "A" productions, carefully prepared scripts, with FRANKENSTEIN (1931) being intense for children to see, and all featuring Boris Karloff as The Monster. Ygor, who was pronounced dead in the last installment, returns, with no explanation as to how he survived the bullets. However, it is said that the Monster cannot die, which explains his resurrection once more. On the plus side to this production are the special effects, crisp black and white photography, brief clips taken from the initial "Frankenstein" featuring Colin Clive and Dwight Frye stealing a dead body from the cemetery and the creation of the Monster, and a stock musical score by Hans J. Salter. As with "Son of Frankenstein," Bela Lugosi's Ygor steals the show, although he is somewhat less menacing this time round. Lon Chaney Jr., a recent recruit to the Universal rouster of movie monsters, makes a satisfactory substitute to Karloff's Monster, but not as memorable as he is, or was, as Lawrence Talbot in "The Wolf Man" (1941), and its sequels. In many ways, Chaney's Monster is many times better than the latter Glenn Strange's performance. From this point on, the Frankenstein monster would become a second rate character, which was reportedly a letdown by its originator, Karloff, this being his main reason for quitting the series. One thing here that would have made Karloff proud is the way how Chaney's Monster interplays with that of a little girl. It's been said Karloff was totally against his monster character in "Frankenstein" having to drown an innocent little girl in that one intense scene by the lake. Here, the Monster still goes on a rampage to kill, but shows the human side of his nature when it comes to the innocence of a child, showing no fear of this hideous creature.

Also seen in the supporting cast are Leyland Hodgeson as the Chief Constable; Holmes Herbert as Inspector Holtz; and Doris Lloyd as Martha. Fans of the initial two Frankenstein entries will take notice that Dwight Frye (appearing unbilled), the one who played the hunchback Fritz in "Frankenstein" (1931) and Karl in "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935), as one of the angry villagers in the opening segment. And yes, that is the same Lionel Atwill, here appearing as Doctor Boumer, who played the one armed police inspector in "Son of Frankenstein." He would assume different character roles in future installments in the Frankenstein series.

As with all the Frankenstein films of the 1930s and '40s, "The Ghost of Frankenstein" has become available on both video cassette and DVD. It did have frequent revivals on cable television's The Sci-Fi Channel, American Movie Classics (2000-2002) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: October 9, 2016). In spite of this being the first in the series with "B" material scripting, "The Ghost of Frankenstein" actually is a fast-paced production at 68 minutes, and seldom dull. (**1/2 brains)
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