After seeing The Mad Monster, I have an even greater appreciation for what Lon Chaney Jr accomplished in The Wolfman (1941). Everything The Wolfman is, The Mad Monster isn't. For starters there's Petro the "slow handyman," played, stereotypically, by Glenn Strange [Sam the bartender from Gunsmoke]. Strange brings nothing special to the character, especially when he dons the wolf suit. He simply looks like a man walking around in a wolf costume. His physical presence changes very little as he shifts back and forth from wolfman to handyman. Chaney, on the other hand, gave us emotional depth and also managed to bring all the heavy make-up to life. [Jack Pierce's work is sorely missed here as well. No one did horror makeup better than him during the 30's and 40's.]
Secondly, the screenplay is horribly predictable, filled with every cliche that could be borrowed from other films that came before it. There are absolutely no surprises here and I felt like I've seen this film a hundred times over. Yawn! At least Wolfman gave us a well developed story, with complex characters and a few twists and turns along the way.
To The Mad Monster's credit, the cinematography is decent and George Zucco's performance as the "mad doctor" is not bad at all. It's one of the few things that holds this film together. The musical score is also quite good, serving to establish the mood of the film. After watching The Mad Monster, it is quite clear that this was made on a shoestring budget with the hope of cashing in on the popularity of The Wolfman which was released a year before it. Thankfully, The Mad Monster can be downloaded for free at Archive.org. That being said, there are better ways to waste and hour and fifteen minutes! Watch Chaney's version instead!
Download a copy of the film from Archive.org
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.