Dir. Erle C. Kenton
Reviewer. Dan Cook
Having proved his beastly worth with his excellent central performance in THE WOLF MAN the year before, Lon Chaney Jr. would follow his most famous role by stepping into the boots of Universal’s most iconic monster for THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN, the third sequel to James Whale’s epochal 1931 masterpiece. Taking place after the explosive events of SON OF FRANKENSTEIN , this very odd film sees Bela Lugosi’s broken-necked Ygor and the resurrected yet weakened monster seeking out Ludwig (played by local boy Sir Cedric Hardwicke), the second child of the original doctor who reluctantly holds the secret to make the creature more powerful than ever before.
Well directed by ISLAND OF LOST SOULS helmsman Erle C. Kenton despite a significant cut in budget and imaginatively, if not overly written by THE WOLF MAN’s George Waggner, THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN may not compare to its three exemplary predecessors, with much of the film actively contradicting the events of SON OF FRANKENSTEIN. Nonetheless, it has its fair share of memorable moments - many of which are provided by Lugosi who delights once again as the morbid Ygor who plans to use the ingenuity stern Ludwig for his own macabre inventions. There’s also some very evocative uses of silence and shadow throughout the pictures extremely zippy running time that help to build an atmosphere of archaic gothic suspense.
There are some choice scenes of monster madness in THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN, with the main rampage of the creature being a particular highlight and the cast which includes Lionel Atwill, Ralph Bellamy, Evelyn Ankers (both of whom starred in THE WOLF MAN) are all enjoyable. This is particularly true for Lon Chaney Jr. who, despite being drunk for most of the production to dull the discomfort of Jack Pierce’s makeup, does his absolute best in the unenviable position of walking in the lumbering footsteps of the inimitable Boris Karloff. However, while the film may have its few positives including a truly explosive finale, it is a rather middling and often absurd affair that signals the point where Universal’s sequel-spinning wheels had begun to churn with numbing alacrity.