Wolf, the way you’re carrying on, if I were a policeman, I’d be suspicious myself. You would? Yes, I would! Mysterious things have happened. A murder in the village, our own dear Benson disappears for no reason. They probably think you, like your father, have created another monster…
When I was making up my list of films to review I had originally planned to do The Hound of Baskervilles, but then I thought I needed more traditional horror films in the 2022 lineup. As I was looking at all the different drafts I have started I decided on reviewing The Son of Frankenstein. Since I had a review earlier this month on Frankenstein (1994), I thought I would balance it out with a hopefully better Frankenstein film. I mean it has Boris Karloff so the bar is high.
Frankenstein’s son, Wolf Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone), is coming to the ancestral village to claim his inheritance and all the townspeople are in a tizzy afraid that he might be just like his father.
Wolf is married to an American, Elsa (Josephine Hutchins), and they are both happy to be out of the college and to start a new life. As they talk about the home Frankenstein and never been to they imagine a gothic castle and it’s super cute how the two of them talk about it. It makes me think of Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney when they travel to Northanger Abbey.
Frankenstein is angry abut the legacy of his father and how he is remembered for making a murderous monster instead of his accomplishments bringing the dead to life. He blames the assistant Igor (Bela Lugosi).
When Frankenstein arrives at the village he is met by the burgemeister, the villagers, and the village council who are not happy at that he is there. They do not give him a cheery welcoming, but deposit his papers and items and leave.
They get to the house and Elsa Frankenstein does not seem at all pleased at the gloomy demeanor and the way they were greeted. She has second thoughts about being there and wants them to take their son and go “home”.
It is a good thing that the Frankensteins brought some of their servants as none of the local people will serve them or interact with them.
The family makes their way home and the castle is really interesting. It is more German Expressionism and something you would see out of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari then an old castle.
Frankenstein never met his father and has always felt something missing. He has tried his best to connect with him, becoming a scientists as well. He hopes he is someone his father would be proud of and like him. He goes to visit the library and unlocks a box of papers given to him by the council and in it finds a letter written to him with information about how his father brought rhe creature to life.
Basil Rathbone was a really good choice to play Frankenstein in this as he’s a very likable character, he almost has got wanting him to try his father’s experiments…almost.
That evening the inspector comes calling and warns Frankenstein against trying to do what his father did and to return to England before he is infected with the “poison of discovery”. Frankenstein doesn’t take him seriously at all and asks if the inspector has even seen anything of the creature as he feels the stories were exaggerated. The inspector has seen the monster, as it turns out when he was a boy the creature tore one of his arms off. He says the monster stories are not exaggerated.
Also leading to the high tension in the area are six murders since the monster was “destroyed”; all were killed by hearts rupturing, a bruise at the base of their brains were discovered, and all were prominent men…very suspicious. The inspector cautions Frankenstein again and tells him that he will be there for the Frankensteins fmaily when they will, will not if, need him and leaves.
Like his father, Frankenstein is a doctor and he loves lightning. The longer he stays in his ancestral home, the more he desires to follow in his father’s footsteps as he his in awe of what his father was able to accomplish.
Frankenstein decides to check out his father’s old lab, which is a mess and in pieces as it was destroyed in Bride of Frankenstein
While out there Frankenstein runs into Igor (Bella Lugosi). Originally Lugosi only had a small part in the film, but the scriptwriter felt bad about the way he was treated and extended the character for him. The script changed from day to day so no one knew what was to come, so making the part bigger was an easy feat. Igor was hung for the assisting the senior Frankenstein, and when they tried to kill him he didn’t die but it broke his neck and left it broken. It appears that the senior Frankenstein did some experimenting to give him that ability.
Igor takes Frankenstein to the family crypt where he sees the coffins for his father and grandfather; along with the monster who is not dead but still alive!
I miss Fritz as Igor is super creepy. Igor sees the creature as “his friend” who he “does things” for him. Hmm I wonder Igor and the monster are behind all the murders the inspector was talking about. Right now the creature has been wounded and is in a coma-like state as he was electrocuted. Igor insists that as senior Frankenstein made him too, the creature is Wolf Frankenstein’s brother and begs him to bring him back.
At first Frankenstein isn’t interested, but it doesn’t take long to convince him as he wants to be like his dad and protect hush legacy. He agrees and scurries away to the library to get tools and info.
Frankenstein tries to get Benson to help them but Igor tosses him out. Igor doesn’t want anyone else involved in bringing the monster back to life. Uh Frankenstein, do you notice that Igor is acting very, very odd? You definitely shouldn’t do anything he’s involved in.
I really enjoy this film as it definitely feels like a callback to the original movie.The way the scenes are cut, the music, etc.
The heads of the council try to get Igor to sly on Frankenstein and threaten hangin him if he doesn’t help them. Seriously guys? You tried to have him die by hanging and he survived. Why would he help any of you? Igor acts suspicious as he tells them he will not be hunted and killed, and also points out that out of the 8 that condemned him to death only a few remain. Hmmm….??? Why has no one put together the “killing ghost” is Igor getting revenge.
Meanwhile, Frankenstein is having a fight within himself. He wants to destroy the creature as he knows bringing him out of the coma is wrong, but as a scientists he just can’t stop himself. It makes me think of the scientists in The Thing From Another World.
The inspector comes over for the dinner he was invited to, but the only one there is Elsa Frankenstein as Frankenstein is too busy working on his project. It’s entirely normal to her as he has often done this when he is concentrating on a scientific problem, however, the inspector is very interested a he wants to make sure that Frankenstein isn’t working on trying to resurrect the creature.
Frankenstein finally comes to dinner and they are joined by Frankenstein Jr. Frankenstein Jr. starts about a giant being in the house. Elsa thinks it is just his imagination but the inspector and Frankenstein share looks. Could Frankenstein have woken up the creature?
Frankenstein questions Frankenstein jr and when he hears the description, he is in shock. He thought his resurrection experiments has failed, did it actually work? He goes running to the lab and when he gets there, there is no one to be found.
Frankenstein feels something on his shoulder and discovers the creature awake and lumbering about.
The creature doesn’t look so big in this one as Boris Karloff as Frankenstein was 6’6 and Basil is 6’2. They should when chosen a smaller actor for Frankenstein.
Igor is pleased but now that the creature isn’t a scientific question, Frankenstein is worried that people might find out what he did and not give him or his father the accolades he thought they would. Igor reassures him he won’t tell anyone and will protect their secret (totally leaving the butler out of the circle of trust). I 100% think he has killed or will kill the butler benson.
Frankenstein wants to examine and test the monster, but Igor won’t let him touch the creature and the creature only listens to Igor. I wonder why he listens to Igor. In the other films the creature wouldn’t even listen to Frankenstein, why does he trust Igor?
Igor controls the monster and use him to continue killing off the men who had sentenced him to death. I knew it, I knew he was behind the murders!
That night Frankenstein is surprised by the inspector who comes for dinner. Strangely the butler is missing (I told you! Igor probably killed him to!). Frankenstein tries to hide this from the inspector and says he sent him to the lab, but why is he acting so suspicious? Does he suspect the monster?
Frankenstein questions Igor about Benson and doesn’t get any answers. That evening Elsa questions Frankenstein and again Frankenstein is SUPER suspicious, Benson is totally dead. They have a heart to heart and Elsa admits that she hates living here and is terrified all the time.
So it appears that Igor is controlling the creature with music, his playing gets Frankenstein’s monster to do his bidding .
Meanwhile another man is murdered and the villager start storming the castle as they blame the family and want to destroy the Frankensteins. The inspector forces them to say inside the castle for their “own safety”.
Frankenstein makes it back to the lab and sees Frankenstein sleeping. He knows what the creature has done and tries to kill him, but is stopped by Igor who admits what I knew, Igor was using the creature to get revenge. The two yell at each other and wake up the creature who threatens Frankenstein.
Frankenstein fires Igor and goes home where he is questioned by the inspector. Frankenstein is really is cracking under the pressure and this scene is done very well as t looks insane, especially when he laughs. Just like dead old dad.
The inspector arrests Frankenstein for the murder of Benson, there is noting to really hold him on as their is no proof but they think by arresting him they can appease the crowd. Dr Frankenstein tells them that Igor is the murderer, and the inspector informs him they suspect Igor but cannot arrest him as there is no proof.
There is no proof Frankenstein did anything and you are arresting him!
Frankenstein is let go and heads back to the lab where he finds Igor, fights him, and shoots him in self defense.
Meanwhile the inspector has been searching the house without permission and discovers a secret passage with Benson’s body in it.
Frankenstein comes home and runs into the inspector. The inspector tells him about Benson and Frankenstein reveals he killed Igor. The inspector believes that Frankenstein brought the monster back and demands he admit it and show him the monster, or else he will give him over to the villagers who will hang him and his family. Seriously, that seems like a gross miscarriage of justice. At least let him have a trial first.
Back in the lab the creature has discovered Igor’s dead body and is furious. He destroys the lab and I have to say, that while this film is alright it would have been much better if we had less Igor and more of the creature.
To get revenge, the creature decides to kidnap and kill Frankenstein’s child. He runs to the house through the secret passage and kills the nanny, kidnaps Frankenstein Jr. Frankenstein and the Inspector discover Frankenstein Jr. missing and take off after him. They save him just in time, knocking the creature deep into the sulfur pits. Once again the creature is dead…at least until the next film.
Frankenstein and family decide to leave, returning to England; giving the home, lab, and property to the community.
Like I said this film was okay, I mean Basil Rathbone was incredible in his role. However I feel it was lacking to the other films, as we hardly had any creature in it and that’s what I’m here for. As much as I love Bela Lugosi, I would much rather have more Creature/Boris Karloff.
For more Frankenstein, go to Did You Ever Consider the Consequences of Your Actions? You Made Me, and You Left Me to Die. Who Am I?: Frankenstein (1994)
For more Bela Lugosi, go to Time for You to Awaken, Master. Time for You to Go Out: The Return of the Vampire (1943)
For more Boris Karloff, go to Eternal Punishment for Anyone Who Opens This Casket: The Mummy (1932)
For more Universal Film, go to The Book of the Dead? Are You Sure You Want to Be Playing Around With This Thing? It’s Just a Book. No Harm Ever Came From… Reading a Book.: The Mummy (1999)