HMM Day 19 – Son Of Frankenstein

Do you believe in fate? The idea that all events happen and come together by some decision of a supernatural power? Or do you believe all things happen by our own free will, that everything we do is what dictates our future. Fate is an amazing and powerful theme that has made its appearance in all popular works of literature and media throughout generations. We’re brought up on the subject and can see it through history. We see that our hero Beowulf lives by the hand of fate as he battles many monsters and then finally perishes to the fire breathing dragon. In William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, our main character is told of his rule and then utter destruction. Both stories are legends deeply ingrained in our society. Themes that deal with the subject of weather or not we’re in control or everything is a predestined road.

But what if our futures and the lives we live are set in stone? In spite of all our attempts and power to dictate our own lives, there is absolutely nothing we can do.

Son Of Frankenstein

Son of Frankenstein is a 1939 horror film directed by Rowland V. Lee and serves as the third and final film in the well known Frankenstein trilogy. It stars Basil Rathbone as Wolf Frankenstein, Lionel Atwill as Inspector Krogh, Josephine Hutchinson as Elsa von Frankenstein and both horror legends Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi as Ygor in their fifth film together. It would be Karloff’s last cinematic portrayal as the monster and would also re-establish the Universal monster appeal that was beginning to die down.


Son of the Dr. Frankenstein, Wolf Frankenstein returns to his families hometown to redeem the Frankenstein name and live in peace. Little does he know that the fate of his family desires him to continue in his fathers footsteps and bring back the monster! A vengeful Ygor uses the monster to once again terrorize the townspeople and bring sweet revenge on those that wronged him.

While 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein might be one of the greatest and well made sequels to ever been made, 1939’s Son of Frankenstein is a triumphant conclusion to the Frankenstein series and is as great a film as the first two films. Thus making the first and very best trilogy in all cinematic history.

Scenery With A Message

What I love most about this film is the scenery. The film keeps the same modernistic skyscraper decor like the others. The buildings ceilings and walls with their web like shadows are never ending. Like typical Gothic architecture, they go up and up like they were reaching for heaven or in the instance of the Frankenstein family, trying to be gods themselves. “Now I now what it feels to be God” a quote from Wolfs father in the original Frankenstein film is literally imposed in the scenery around our charterer. This creates the theme that the fate of the Frankenstein family is to always try to become gods or play God. The sets of the castle are forbiddingly large and imposing, making the characters within it seem like small focal points. Everything points to our character Wolf as if fate is pointing in on him. He is the center of the room and as long as he remains, the fate of his fathers will be his as well. The monster will rise again!

Wolf comes to the town of his father to reconnect with the villagers and clear his name, but fate cannot be altered. He can’t control himself and sets out to bring back the science of his family. He doesn’t even seem to be tempted but falls into the evil science easily. The guy obviously comes from a normal background. He has a beautiful wife with a wonderful child. But something draws him to re-do what his father did. He restores the creature and lives up to his own fate. Even the monster itself at one point knows this as he is about to strangle Wolf, he stops after realizing he’s looking into the face of a Frankenstein! The supernatural force of fate isn’t an act of divine providence but through the fate of scientific abuse stemming deep down from his father before him.

Lugosi as Ygor is brilliant in this movie and serves as a much darker and vengeful antagonist than Bride of Frankenstein’s Dr. Pretorius. He was hanged for his grave robbing crimes and obviously survived. But his neck bone is protruding thus giving him an awkward walk and voice. His scene where we actually meet Ygor, he actually bangs his knuckles against the bone! Creating this awesome knock sound. It’s so damn brilliant and comical. But Ygor is the drive an instigator of Wolfs fate to bring the monster back.

Karloff doesn’t talk in this film and returns to the more dumb kind of monster. But his never ending desire for love and normalcy are still there. The first scene with Wolf and the monster is actually much more saddening as the monster seems torn inside at being himself. I don’t think he wants to kill and I don’t think he wants to be a monster. Like Bride of Frankenstein, he is a creature being manipulated and which ever thing controls him determines the monsters behavior. Still I would have preferred some dialogue from the monster.

Such A Delight

Son of Frankenstein is a delight for any horror fanatic and lover of the classic genre. Without this movie, it is possible that films like 1941’s The Wolf Man and 1954’s Creature From The Black Lagoon would never have happened. It gave Universal another leg to stand on for the age of monsters before sci-fi outer space films started taking over. It’s a brilliant movie that continues what made the first two of the series such great movies. This movie is so popular that it was spoofed in 1974’s Mel Brooks comedy called Young Frankenstein starring Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle and Madeline Kahn.

Like the other Frankenstein films we’re driven to feel pity for the monster and not see him as an evil creature like Dracula or the Mummy. It’s a perfect display of man vs himself where the real monsters is not the monster himself, but the normal people around him that are driven by intellectual supremacy or revenge. Like the great stories before like Macbeth and Beowulf, Son of Frankenstein serves as another story regarding the terrible hand of fate and the terrors it can bring. Unlike his fathers before him, Wolf does redeem himself and eventually give up his hunger for continuing his fathers work. It leaves off him redeeming his family name by leaving the village and giving the estate to the people. Thus stopping the fate (or curse) of the Frankenstein name. So watch Son of Frankenstein and enjoy this conclusion to a wonderful series and enjoy day nineteen of Horror Movie Marathon!

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