|Directed by||Erle C. Kenton|
The Ghost of Frankenstein is an American monster horror film released in 1942. The movie is the fourth in a series of films produced by Universal Studios based upon characters in Mary Shelley‘s novel Frankenstein and features Lon Chaney Jr. as the Monster, taking over from Boris Karloff, who played the role in the first three films of the series, and Béla Lugosi in his second appearance as the demented Ygor. The supporting cast features Lionel Atwill, Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Bellamy and Evelyn Ankers.
Ghost of Frankenstein marked the final appearance of the Monster in a solo capacity in the Universal Monsters series. Beginning with the next film, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (in which Lugosi plays the Monster with Chaney switching to his Wolf Man character), and continuing for the rest of the Universal cycle, Frankenstein’s Monster would be part of an ensemble cast of creatures.
The blinding of the Monster resulted in a lasting stereotype of the creature walking with arms outstretched, even though this is the only film in which it is explicitly indicated that he is blind, such references being cut by the studio from Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, sabotaging Lugosi’s performance in the process, since the audience is left to wonder why the Monster is behaving so peculiarly. The Monster’s ability to speak would also be dropped after this film (Lugosi’s dialogue was filmed but ultimately deleted from Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man) until Glenn Strange, playing the Monster, spoke briefly in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein has Chaney make an uncredited second appearance as the Monster during the laboratory escape sequence, replacing a broken-footed Glenn Strange in the Monster role.
Despite having been apparently killed at the end of Son of Frankenstein, Ygor was revealed to have been only “maimed by the bullets shot into him by Wolf Frankenstein”. There was no mention of a second son of the original Dr. Frankenstein in Son of Frankenstein. Ludwig states that he has lived in this area his entire life, but it is not explained why only Wolf was raised in America.
Ghost of Frankenstein also marked the changeover of the Frankenstein (and Universal Monsters) series from “A-movie” to “B-movie” status, with noticeably reduced budgets and the reuse of actors from previous films. As noted below, footage from this film would be recycled in even a later Frankenstein feature.
The title of the film refers to the fact that Dr. Henry Frankenstein, creator of The Monster in the first Universal Frankenstein film, appears (played by Hardwicke) as a ghostly apparition to advise Ludwig.
The footage of the Monster scrambling to escape the fire was later reused at the end of House of Dracula, even though Glenn Strange plays the Monster in that film.
Synopsis by Hal Erickson