Monday, September 16, 2013

Man Made Monster (1941)

Starring Lionel Atwill, Lon Chaney, Jr., Anne Nagel, Frank Albertson, Samuel S. Hinds
Directed by George Waggner
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A scientist invites a carnival performer who's survived electrocution to his lab for study, but doesn't realize his ambitious assistant has plans to turn the man into a being dependent on electricity.

Lon Chaney, Jr. stars in his first horror film for Universal Pictures, which serves as an interesting trial run for the actor before taking over the roles of Universal's classic monsters in the ensuing years.  Starting out very earnest and likable, Chaney does a good job of diminishing the energy in his performance as he's fed more and more electricity until he's only emoting through the angst in his eyes, well abetted by some subtle makeup and nice glowing effects.  Atwill, as the true villain of the piece, provides the appropriate intensity and enthusiasm for his mad scientist, and the film has a strong musical score with the proper flourishes accompanying the electrical sequences.  Although a faithful dog's pursuit of Chaney at the film's climax comes off as a little heavy-handed, this is still a very worthwhile horror film.

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