1941 was a big year for Lon Chaney Jr as he gave the iconic performance of his life in The Wolf Man, directed by George Waggner. This same year, Chaney and Waggner would team up again for the low budget thriller Man Made Monster. While it does not reach the cinematic heights of The Wolf Man, Man Made Monster is a solid thriller that borrows heavily from 1931’s Frankenstein.
The story begins on a dark stormy night [Don’t they all?]. A bus crashes into an electrical line, killing everyone on board but Chaney. He then falls into the hands of two scientists who are curious as to how he survived. The one and only Lionel Atwill [Mystery of the Wax Museum, Son of Frankenstein] gives a delightful performance as “mad scientist” Dr. Rigas. He is perfect for the role and portrays his character with lots of manic energy and delusional tendencies. The cast also includes Anne Nagel [Black Friday] as June Lawrence, the wife of doctor number two who is much saner than Dr. Rigas. She brings lots of heart and warmth to the story.
My only complaint about Man Made Monster is the special effect they use when Chaney is full electrified and goes on a murderous rampage. [He looks like a glow worm!] I would have gone for a much simpler presentation like electricity shooting through his fingers but, hey, no one asked me to direct the film!
Man Made Monster is hardly the epic adventure The Wolf Man was but it proves the point that small budget films can still look good and tell an interesting story. Man Made Monster can be purchased as part of the Universal Horror Classic Movie Archive which is a collection of 5 lesser known Universal films from the 1940’s. The picture and sound are great and I’m glad to see Universal take the time to restore some of its lesser known horror films.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.