Son of Frankenstein

Critics Consensus

Boris Karloff's final appearance as the Monster is a fitting farewell before the series descended into self-parody.

91%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 23

71%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,870
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Movie Info

The most elaborate--and longest--of Universal's Frankenstein series, Son of Frankenstein represents Boris Karloff's last appearance in the role of the Monster. The title character is played by Basil Rathbone, who with wife Josephine Hutchinson and son Donnie Donegan returns to the Old Country to take over his late father's estate. Rathbone receives a cool reception from the local villagers, who remember all too well the havoc wreaked by his father's monstrous creation. Though he assures his neighbors that he has no intention of following in his father's footsteps, Rathbone is hounded by suspicious town constable Lionel Atwill, whose stiff artificial arm is an unfortunate legacy of an earlier confrontation with Karloff. Also hanging around Frankenstein Castle is crazed shepherd Bela Lugosi), whose neck was broken in an unsuccessful hanging attempt. Lugosi wishes to exact revenge on the city fathers who'd tried to execute him, and to that end persuades Rathbone to revive the hideous Karloff. At first resistant, Rathbone becomes as obsessed as his father with the notion of creating artificial life. Now the fun begins, directed with Germanic intensity by Rowland V. Lee. Though Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein has rendered Son of Frankenstein virtually impossible to take seriously, the film remains an excellent marriage of the slick, sanitized production values of the "New Universal" and the Gothic zeitgeist of the earlier Frankenstein epics. Best line: Lugosi, looking over the dormant body of The Monster, explains raspily that "He does...things...for me." Hans J. Salter's intense musical score for Son of Frankenstein would continue to resurface in Universal's Mummy B pictures of the 1940s. Watch for Ward Bond in a bit part as a police officer...and see if you can spot Dwight Frye, whose supporting part was excised from the final release print, among the villagers.

Cast

Basil Rathbone
as Baron Wolf von Frankenstein
Boris Karloff
as The Monster
Lionel Atwill
as Inspector Krogh
Josephine Hutchinson
as Elsa von Frankenstein
Donnie Dunagan
as Peter von Frankenstein
Emma Dunn
as Amelia
Edgar Norton
as Thomas Benson
Lawrence Grant
as Burgomaster
Lionel Belmore
as Emil Lang
Michael Mark
as Ewald Neumuller
Caroline Cooke
as Frau Neumuller
Edward Cassidy
as Dr. Berger
Tom Ricketts
as Burgher
Carole Cook
as Frau Neumuller
Harry Cording
as Bearded Gendarme
Ward Bond
as Gendarme at Gate
Dwight Frye
as Villager
Clarence Wilson
as Dr. Berger
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Critic Reviews for Son of Frankenstein

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for Son of Frankenstein

  • Sep 22, 2014
    Going off book for a straight up creature feature, this overlong and often lead-footed sequel boasts enough style and scares to give Karloff a proper and monstrous send-off. Out with pathos, in with the self-parody. Perhaps, of all of the Frankenstein films, Son gets taken least seriously in the shadow of Mel Brooks's hilarious, spot-on, send-up Young Frankenstein. Granted, the master parodist borrows most from this second sequel. Still, between the lead-footed plotting and arch performances, the film's ripe for the nit pickings. Regardless, unlike the increasingly laughable chapters that followed, the narrative feels like a worthy continuation of the first two cinematic masterpieces. In this unrated continuation of the classic horror series, an outcast hunchback (Bela Lugosi) persuades the reviled son (Basil Rathbone) of Dr. Henry Frankenstein to revive the hideous monster (Boris Karloff)--one to prove the father right and the other to exact revenge on the city fathers who'd tried to execute him. Basil Rathbone turns the scenery into an absolute buffet, screenwriter Willis Cooper over-complicates the monstrous resurrection with a revenge sub-plot, and Bela Lugosis gleefully insane Igor somehow steals the show from Karloff in his last turn as the monster. Still, directors Michael Gordon and Rowland V. Lee employ a great deal of noirish Art Deco-inspired style that sets a tone both ominous and eye-catching. Bottom line: The Son Also Surprises
    Jeff B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 09, 2012
    Two of Universal's biggest stars, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, team up for Son of Frankenstein. In this third installment of the series Dr. Wolf von Frankenstein inherits his family's estate and decides to continue his father's work when his father's former assistant, Ygor, reveals that the Monster is still alive. Lugosi does an excellent job as Ygor; turning him into one of the most signification characters in the Frankenstein canon. Additionally, the story is rather good and takes the series in an interesting direction. Son of Frankenstein is able to deliver a fresh and frightening new chapter into the series, while still being a smart and well-crafted film.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 01, 2012
    Repeating the sins of the father is an overriding theme in â~Son of Frankensteinâ(TM) and the film doesnâ(TM)t tread lightly around it. Trying to tame and domesticate the inherently feral and wild is a futile enterprise as Wolf Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) unearths in this rousing, unexpectedly character-driven sequel that doesnâ(TM)t bastardize the films that came before it. Karloff is still an inimitable silent actor since he must gesture and flail to convey the monsterâ(TM)s self-hatred. For example, when the monster is awoken, he stares into the mirror and acts predatory until the tragic revelation that he is looking at his own reflection. However, the film is plundered outright by Bela Lugosiâ(TM)s scenery-chewing as Ygor, Frankensteinâ(TM)s deformed assistant. Lugosi is insidiously creepy and manipulative by using Wolfâ(TM)s scientific curiosity to his revenge agenda. The townspeopleâ(TM)s sudden change-of-heart in the third act is a lazy deus ex machine but otherwise this is a judicious, absorbing rebound for the Universal monster.
    Cory T Super Reviewer
  • Oct 06, 2010
    Right off of the bat the Son of Frankenstein sounds like a terrible idea. This is the third installment of the immensely popular Frankenstein series by Universal Horror and you can tell that they are just beating the money horse here by filling the entire movie with heavyweight horror actors like Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone, Lionel Atwill, Dwight Frye and Boris Karloff returning as the monster. his movie is so heavy on the acting side that it begins to collapse in on itself and actually takes away from other aspects of the film. Son could have possibly been the greatest Frankenstein movie of all time; however, the plot does away with everything that the Monster learned in the previous film and pisses away all of the character and story development that came with the original Bride of Frankenstein. The iconic look of the Monster is also severely tampered with; instead of wearing his usual dark suit as in the previous Frankenstein films he dons a fur vest and tall black boots. All of these things mixed together just sort of make this movie lackluster and it plays right into the stereotype that the third movie in a franchise is unable to hold its own. The movie is about Dr. Frankenstein's son, Wolf Von Frankenstein, coming to receive his inheritance. That being his fathers estate and laboratory in the terrorized village of movies prior. It looks like Wolf Von Frankenstein is going to turn over a new leaf and clear his family's name in the village, however something clicks in his brain about 20 minuets into the movie and he decides to try and re-animate his fathers ravenous creation. Referred to earlier in the film as Wolf's half brother. The movie has some incredible sets and the art direction is spectacular, you can really see the German Expressionist influences, and while the rest of the film is very well shot it lacks in certain areas. As I said before the character development hit a reset button with this movie and in doing so sort of lost the pace and momentum that the last two movies had built. And what makes a movie entertaining without an interesting monster and well developed characters? The roles in the film are really kind of strange: Lionel Atwill gives a great performance as Inspector Krogh, Boris Karloff contributes a pretty mediocre one in his last portrayal of the Monster, Basil Rathbone is horrible, just horrible, and then there is Bela Lugosi who steals the show as Ygor. Ygor, the Monster's only "friend, was was hung but he somehow survived and goes through the entire movie with a wooden neck? This movie is hardly scary and I think serves as a weak follow-up to what many consider to be one of the greatest movies of all time. I think it is safe to say that Son of Frankenstein holds a solid 5 of 10. It does its own thing. It could have been done a lot better or it could have just been left alone. If you want to judge for yourself go ahead and watch the Original, then Bride of Frankenstein, and then this movie. That should put everything in perspective. Who is going to throw paint on the Monsters vest? S!D
    Brandon S Super Reviewer

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