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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

It's hard for any film franchise to remain fresh and innovative after four movies.  The creators of the X Men were smart in starting it's "Origins" series.  Nightmare on Elm Street lost it's moxie after Wes Craven left the director's chair.  So, how does Frankie hold up as he lurches his way into film number four?  Not too bad.  We all thought he was killed by a hot volcanic sulfur pit at the end of Son of Frankenstein (1939).  However, you can't keep a good monster down!
Lon Chaney Jr, hot off the successful The Wolfman (1941), takes over for Boris Karloff as the Monster.  He's fine but Karloff is superior in every way.  Bela Lugosi reprises his role as Ygor, the Monster's faithful friend.  It feels like Lugosi has less good material to work with here.  He was better in Son of Frankenstein but gives a very good performance in Ghost nonetheless.
Adding to the Frankenstein family this time around is Cedrick Hardwicke who does a nice job as Ludwig Frankenstein who is the brother of Wolf who was seen in the last film.  [Who knew Wolf had a brother who is also a doctor.  It feels like we're stretching things a bit here.]
Sorely missed from this film is Rowland V. Lee's direction from the last film with its moody, expressionistic sets.  Erie C. Kenton does an adequate job here as director but brings nothing special to the table.  Jack Pierce is doing make-up again, although he seems a little bit off the mark on this one.
All in all, it's a fine film but expectations are high after three excellent feature films.  This one is well worth seeing but is definitely the lesser of the four movies.  The Universal Legacy Series DVD's is the best way to see this and all the Frankenstein movies.  The sound and clarity of the picture are worth the prices.  You can also rent it through Netflix.
RATING: Very Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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