Son Of Frankenstein (1939)

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Overall Rating 71%
Overall Rating
Ranked #4,355
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Connections: Frankenstein

Wolf von Frankenstein returns to the Baronial manor from the United States with his wife Elsa and son Peter. He not made welcome by the locals who are still terrified of his father's works and the monster he created. The local Burgomaster gives him a sealed briefcase left by his father and inside, Wolf finds his father's scientific notes. At the manor house he meets his father's assistant Igor who has a surprise for him: the monster his father created is still alive, though in some sort of coma. Wolf's initial attempts to re-animate the creature seem to fail but when Peter says he saw a giant in the woods, it appears he's met success. When people are mysteriously killed in the village there is little doubt that the monster is responsible. --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: October 29, 2015
By the end of the 30s, the horror phase that fueled the beginning of the decade had seemingly died out and filmmakers had moved on. However, when a triple-feature of the original Frankenstein, Dracula, and King Kong brought people out in droves, Universal realized there was still money to be made in the genre and put together a second sequel for their classic franchise.

Now a grown man with a wife and child of his own, Wolf Frankenstein, the son of Henry and Elisabeth, is returning to the German village that shares his name and reclaiming his father's estate. While the family is ecstatic about this new chapter, there new neighbors are considerably less so. After Henry's monster's murderous rampage all those years ago, the family is the very definition of persona non grata, and the villagers make every effort to let the newcomers know it. The only one to show them any sort of kindness is the policeman Inspector Krogh, who guarantees he will do his best to ensure the family's safety should the village's hostility turn to physical violence. An amazing show of character when you consider that when he was just a child, his arm was ripped completely off his body by the marauding creation. Still, the Frankensteins do their best to adjust to their new life, and Wolf has taken it upon himself to rebuild his father's laboratory. While investigating the debris he meets a deformed man named Ygor. This wretch was convicted of grave robbing and hanged, but he survived despite suffering a broken neck and has been squatting in the laboratory ever since. He also reveals a terrifying secret. It seems that not only did the feared creature survive that explosion (indeed, he is absolutely immortal), but the pair have become friends. However, he's been stuck in a catatonic state ever since being struck by lightning and Ygor begs the doctor to bring his friend back. For his part, Wolf sees this as a golden opportunity to redeem his family name.

I'll tell you, Wolf was a poor protagonist. Never mind the fact that he's such a step down from his father (both as a character and as an acted role), but even when judged on his own he's such a pointless hero. He keeps talking about redeeming the family name, but his actions make no sense at all. The entire village despises you because of a monster he made. How exactly do you expect anything good to come of bringing it back to life? At the suggestion of a convicted delinquent no less! Things get even worse when Inspector Krogh begins to get suspicious of Frankenstein, and you can't blame him with the scientist stammering out excuses and inconsistent lies. Lionel Atwill was damned good in the Inspector's role, but it was almost wasted with such a terrible character to feed off of. Truth be told, it was actually Bela Lugosi who absolutely stole this movie. Ygor was a fantastic character, and he brought an underhandedness to the character that provided most of the film's tension. From the very beginning, you kind of get the feeling that can't trust him, but as time goes on you begin to wonder just how devious his ulterior motives are. It's kind of ironic that 'Ygor' has gone on to replace 'Fritz' as the name of the original Frankenstein's loyal hunchbacked assistant in most people's minds. Now, as great as Lugosi is, we're here for that monster, and unfortunately, he's just as much a disappointment as his "brother" is. You see, for some unexplained reason, his mental sate has regressed. In my Bride of Frankenstein review I raved about how much weight his intelligence carried, so you can imagine my disappointment when that was unceremoniously stripped away. Indeed, this classic monster has been reduced to a mindless puppet. Not the way we want to see Karloff's last foray with the flat top.

Besides that, Son of Frankenstein has a lot of inconsistencies with the previous films. For one thing, Frankenstein was never the name of the village itself. Besides, given the man's sordid reputation over the last thirty years or so, they would have changed it decades ago. Also, our hapless filmmakers completely forgot some key facts about Dr. Frankenstein's lab. For starters, it wasn't even remotely near the village, and now they've moved it onto his estate. Not only that, but they make repeated references to how the top was blown off in the explosion that led to the monster's believed demise. Well, that was a completely different building. Said explosion happened in Dr. Pretorius' lab, and while that was closer, it certainly wasn't in his own backyard. Sure, horror has always had a problem with continuity between entries, but that doesn't make it any less annoying.

Now, on the one hand, there's no denying how successful this movie was when it came out. It revitalized not only a fading Universal Studios, but the horror genre as a whole. With that said, there's no denying how much this failed to live up to its two predecessors. We've certainly hit the point of the franchise where you can safely ignore these films and not have to worry about depriving yourself of a classic cinema experience. 6/10.
Tristan #1: Tristan - added November 7, 2015 at 1:34pm
Guy gets his arm ripped off in the 30s. 10/10
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