The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) - Erle C. Kenton



Director: Erle C. Kenton
Writers: Scott Darling (screenplay) (as W. Scott Darling), Eric Taylor (original story)
Stars: Cedric Hardwicke, Lon Chaney Jr., Ralph Bellamy
Country: USA
Language: English
Release Date: 13 March 1942 (USA)
Production Co: Universal Pictures


The Ghost of Frankenstein is a horror film from 1942. It was directed by Erle C. Kenton and starred Lon Chaney Jr, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill and Cedric Hardwicke. It is the fourth installment to the original Universal Frankenstein series and the final picture of that run. The quality had suffered and the character was on a bit of a decline. This sequel feels forced and not genuine. A surprising b-movie release from a usually top-notch company.

Ygor is the main character in this picture, finding the damaged creature and escaping with him as an angry mob destroys the Frankenstein family castle. After being struck by lightning, the Monster returns to his full faculties and the pair go to the home of the second son of Henry Frankenstein, Ludwig Frankenstein, a doctor of the mind. While the Monster strives to survive, Ygor is pulling the strings leading to the culmination of his plan, to have his brain inserted into the monster. To join them together as the most powerful being on the planet.


This original Universal Monsters run of Frankenstein is so weird. The setting is some strange meld of the modern industrial era with rural european locales from the middle ages. It creates its own world, and in that vein, the filmmakers have carte-blanche to do whatever they please. This installment actually has the Monster speak in a normal way. Albeit Boris Karloff’s voice.

There is a lot of exposition that has to shoehorn the story into the canon already established. This is clearly a low-budget effort and equates to nothing more than a b-picture. A clear money grab for Universal. It’s no wonder why the series had to come to an end. The Monster wouldn’t be back on the screen until Frankenstein meets the Wolfman. A new series that would feature the Frankenstein Creature meeting these other big name Monsters.

The Ghost of Frankenstein isn’t unwatchable. It’s a pretty decent movie, considering it was just a little more than an afterthought. The acting is typical for the time, Bela does his best at trying to stay relevant and that makes his performance of Ygor so much more interesting. Unfortunately, parts of this movie drag a bit. There is a lot of dialogue between characters. Clearly they were running out of ideas since most of this movie is just re-hashing ideas from past pictures. It’s weird to see a titanic franchise fall so far. At least we get some more of that bizarre world building that I like so much. Ghost of Frankenstein completes a strangely interesting series of movies that I highly suggest watching. Check out: Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son of Frankenstein (1939) and this film that expands on that classic Mary Shelley story that started it all.