Man Made Monster – USA, 1941 – reviews

Man Made Monster is a 1941 American science-fiction horror feature film about a mad scientist who turns a man into an electrically-controlled monster to do his bidding.

Written [as Joseph West] and directed by George Waggner (The Veil TV series; The Climax; Horror Island; The Wolf Man), based on ‘The Electric Man’ a story by Harry Essex, Sid Schwartz and Len Golos.

Plot:

A tragic accident occurs when a bus hits a high power line. The incident has claimed the lives of all on board, except for one Dan McCormick (Lon Chaney, Jr.), who survives because he is, surprisingly, immune to the deadly electricity.

McCormick does a sideshow exhibit as Dynamo Dan, the Electric Man and is taken in by Doctor John Lawrence (Samuel S. Hinds), who wants to study him

However, Doctor Lawrence’s colleague, mad scientist Doctor Paul Rigas (Lionel Atwill) desires to create an army of electrobiologically-driven living zombies. He gives McCormick progressively higher doses of electricity until his mind is ruined and left dependent on the addicting electrical charges. This temporarily gives McCormick the touch of death, making him capable of killing anyone he touches by electrocution…

Reviews:

” …the movie isn’t quite as effective as the other Universal horrors; the fact that the monster is really just a man in a rubber suit may have something to do with this. His death is also a little disappointing, and I’m not sure it really makes much sense considering he spends a goodly part of the movie walking around without the protection of the rubber suit.” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

Man Made Monster is a modestly made B movie. Both Lionel Atwill and Lon Chaney, Jr. are on fine form. Atwill plays at his most demented, gleefully answering questions with an “Of course, I’m mad.” There is a particularly good scene in the courtroom where Atwill gets Chaney to admit to killing Samuel S. Hinds while he sits back and a subtle band of light plays across his face, suggesting his calculating evil.” Richard Scheib, Moria

” …a solid and entertaining effort like this is rare enough.  Which makes it more than worth a look for fans of Universal’s Horror films, or Forties horror and SF in general.” Mark Cole, Rivets on the Poster

“It’s no classic, but it is unexpectedly endearing.” Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image

“For a horror flick about electricity, there’s not much spark to this lackluster effort. Only Atwill injects the proceedings with any oomph. Always watchable, Atwill colors Dr. Rigas with a wide-eyed craziness that keeps things moving along.” The Terror Trap

“Despite the fact he’s the “monster” of the title, we can’t help but feel sorry for Dan, who Chaney Jr. portrays as a likable guy caught up in something he doesn’t understand. Yet as good as Chaney is, Man-Made Monster belongs to Atwill, who relishes the role of the nearly-mad Dr. Rigas […] A strong combination of sci-fi and horror with some pretty cool special-effects…” Dave Becker, 2,500 Movies Challenge

“The script has the wit not to give in to romantic distractions, unlike The Invisible Man Returns or the later The Mad Ghoul, dismissing a potential triangle between Chaney, Nagel and Albertson in a couple of terse lines. The prioritized horror scenes are over the top in comic-book style, in keeping with the crisp, hard-sell tone of the film. Man Made Monster rides roughshod over logic to the point of becoming over-generous in its horror effects…” Universal Horrors: The Studio’s Classic Films, 1931 – 1946, McFarland, 2007 (second edition)

“It makes no sense of being anything but a freakish chiller going straight to the point and being mighty successful. Film is a well-concocted programmer.” Variety, March 26, 1941

New release:

Man Made Monster is part of the Universal Horror Collection: Volume 3 that will be released by Scream Factory on December 17th 2019. The Blu-ray box set also includes Tower of London; The Black Cat and Horror Island.

Cast and characters:

  • Lionel Atwill … Dr. Paul Rigas
  • Lon Chaney Jr. … Dan McCormick
  • Anne Nagel … June Lawrence
  • Frank Albertson … Mark Adams
  • Samuel S. Hinds … Dr. John Lawrence
  • William B. Davidson … District Attorney Ralph B. Stanley (as William Davidson)
  • Ben Taggart … Detective Sergeant Regan
  • Constance Bergen … Nurse (as Connie Bergen)
  • Ivan Miller … Doctor
  • Chester Gan … Wong
  • George Meader … Dr. Bruno
  • Frank O’Connor … Police Detective
  • John Dilson … Medical Examiner
  • Byron Foulger … Alienist #2

Release:

Man Made Monster was released by Universal on March 28, 1941. It was re-released under various titles including Electric Man and The Mysterious Dr. R. Realart Pictures issued the film in 1953 under the title The Atomic Monster as a double feature with The Flying Saucer (1950).

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