Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ghost of Frankenstein: Not Very Good

Oh, dear.

So, this evening I watched the fourth in the series of Frankenstein movies from Universal Studios.  Perhaps its fitting that this fourth and uninspired edition falls into the same category as many un-asked for fourth installments, like, say...  The Phantom Menace, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Whatzit, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, and on and on.

By this installment, Karloff had bailed on the role and Universal had brought in Lon Chaney, Jr., the guy who played the Wolfman in the original, uh... The Wolfman and son of much more talented actor, Lon Chaney.  Much as how you really were surprised how much better Peter Weller was as Robocop than Robert Burke as the cyborg cop, so Karloff is to Chaney.  Chaney seems to believe just standing there or walking around stiffly is all that's required.

Lugosi and Chaney, Jr. are going to find a way to raise this child together
The plot...  well, the villagers in the village of, uhm, Frankenstein, decide to tear down the castle, and it turns out Lugosi/ Ygor is still living in the castle despite having been shot point blank in the chest in the previous movie.  The Monster sort of falls out of the wreckage of the castle (don't ask), and gets hit by lightning, and then they take him to see this brother of the son of Franken...

You know what?

This movie more or less marks the sure breaking point for the franchise into unintentional self-parody.  From here on out, it seems the Universal Pictures are mostly monster meet ups and team ups, and the sort of stuff that more or less slowly squeezed the life out of the characters and turned them from big screen draw to kid's matinee material.

In short, it wasn't very good.  Despite a plot that involved brain transplants and a weird subtext to the Karloff/ Lugosi rivalry when Lugosi's Ygor gets his brain put into the monster (thereby more or less killing Karloff's version of the monster), something just doesn't click.  Anyway, you can't fault it for either jumping through plot hoops to make sense and tie into the previous films or a shortage of wacky ideas.  Its just...  I dunno.

And, yeah, there's a ghost of Henry Frankenstein for, like, three seconds and...  it just doesn't really make any sense.  But he is still very definitely into SCIENCE.

This sort of creepier than anything in the actual movie


Anonymous said...

I watched all of the Frankensteins in a week once and noticed a big quality shift down with this one from the first three. Also, doesn't it become contempory instead of a period piece- again for budget reasons. Less fun than the monster mash team ups later in my opinion.

The League said...

We'll find out. I'm now watching them in order, but I'm watching the Legacy collection which ends with "House of Frankenstein". GoF did appear to be 1944ish contemporary, especially the young woman in the movie and her beau.

I admit: The only Universal mash-up I've seen was "Van Helsing", which left me discomfited and sad. Also, once I get past the Universal movies, I want to see what Hammer did with Frankenstein.