The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
Overview: The ghost of a doctor inspires his son to play God with predictably bad results. And also there’s some brain-swapping.
Four: The Ghost of Frankenstein is the fourth movie in the Frankenstein series and the first to not feature Boris Karloff as the Monster. The only actor/character that carries over from a previous movie is Bela Lugosi’s Ygor, who was shot dead in Son of Frankenstein but got better, which makes sense as after all Ygor is exceptionally hard to kill.
The plot of Ghost is that Ygor finds the preserved remains of the Monster and when they are run out of town, decides that Frankenstein’s other son, Ludwig, might be able to help them restore the Monster’s brain and body after his many mishaps. Hijinks ensue and a plan emerges to replace the defective criminal brain that was originally put in the Monster’s head back in Frankenstein with the brain of Ludwig Frankenstein’s doctor friend who the monster killed.
Chaney: The movie lacks the gothic horror of the earlier movies by being mostly set in semi-modern laboratories, and Lon Chaney Jr. is not as good a monster as Karloff was. This series struggles to recover from the great character work Karloff did in Bride when the Monster was learning and speaking. Now he is back to being a mute, shuffling creature who kills indiscriminately and loves children. The bright spot comes near the end when *spoilers* Ygor’s brain is put into the Monster’s head and he speaks with Bela Lugosi’s voice.*Spoilers end* Unfortunately, this cool little part is about five minutes before the end so the movie is over before they even get a chance to have some fun with this new arrangement.
Overall: The key thing missing from this franchise is a great movie featuring a talking Monster (played by Karloff) and a villainous Ygor working together. This movie defangs Ygor by making him half the villain he was previously and reduces the Monster to a mute sidekick character. In the end, the movie left no impression on this reviewer and seems utterly superfluous.
Featured Image: Universal Pictures