Wednesday, June 15, 2011

One of Universal's best horror efforts from the 1940s

Man Made Monster (1941)
Starring: Lon Chaney Jr., Lionel Atwill, Anne Nagel, Frank Albertson, and Samuel S. Hinds
Director: George Waggner
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

After a carnival sideshow worker (Chaney) is the only survivor from a mass electrocution during a traffic accident, the world's leading electro-biologists (Hinds) invites him to become a research subject so the reason for his survival can be discerned. The scientist's evil assistant, however, subjects the unsuspecting man to illicit experiments that turn him into an electrically charged superhuman killer.

"Mad Made Monster" is a far-fetched tale of mad science of supercharging the naturally occuring electrical systems of the human body with high voltage in ways that Baron Frankenstein wouldn't have imagined in his wildest dreams. You'll barely have time to digest the pseudo-scientific whackiness because the film moves so fast.

Further, you'll find yourself buying to just about every aspect of the film thanks to some truly great performances by its cast. Lon Chaney Jr. is almost as good here as he was in anything he ever made, playing a kindhearted, trusting Everyman whose faith in his doctors ends up dooming him. Meanwhile, Lionel Atwill will have you hating him through-and-through as his characters' manipulative, self-centered ways seem all the more evil because he is exploiting and abusing such a nice guy as Chaney's character. The supporting cast are all likewise excellent in their parts, but it is Atwill and Chaney who make this movie and who elevate it to a level that almost equals Universal Studio's spectacular horror films of the early 1930s.

"Mad Made Monster" is of the very best films from the studio's 1940s horror output, and it is well worth a look by anyone who loves classic horror and monster movies.