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The Monster Maker 1944

From the DVD case: Mad scientist Dr. Igor Markoff (played with malicious delight by J. Carroll Naish) finds his romantic advances are scorned by a beautiful young woman who bears a striking resemblance to his dead wife. In a fury of jealous vengeance, Markoff exacts a gruesome, hideous retribution upon the young woman and her family. The Monster Maker features excellent special effects and co-stars the renowned Glenn Strange, who went on to portray the Frankenstein monster in several classic films. (1944, b&w)

Mark says: I picked up this little gem (coupled with Dead Men Walk) for a buck. I did not expect much for 4 bits a movie, but I must say I rather enjoyed this picture.

The Monster Maker is low-budget, to be sure, but the special effects are more than adequate for a film of this era and cost. Though the storyline is a bit convoluted, and often preposterous, it is entertaining enough to keep our attention.

Essentially, evil Dr. Markoff infects concert pianist Anthony Lawrence with acromegaly (a real, but rare disease) and won’t administer the cure unless Mr. Lawrence consents to letting Dr. Markoff marry his daughter, Patricia (played by Wanda McKay). Acromegaly is marked by grotesque deformities to the head, feet, and hands, thus giving Mr. Lawrence a “monstrous” appearance. There are a lot of other plot twists, but you get the gist of it.

You may recognize some of the character actors featured in this film: J. Carrol Naish from House of Frankenstein; Ralph Morgan from Night Monster; Tala Birell from The Frozen Ghost; Terry Frost of Mysterious Island, and of course, Glenn Strange who plays the Frankenstein monster in House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula.

The acting is by no means superb, but at least par for the genre. Tala Birell’s character (Maxine, Dr. Markoff’s assistant) is my favorite to watch, but mostly because her expressions strike me as humorous.

I’m not going to say this is a great film, but I will say it is an enjoyable 62 minutes, and certainly worth the 50 cents I paid for admission.

Directed by Sam Newfield (Dead Men Walk, The Flying Serpent).

Scene to watch for: Like all mad scientists, Dr. Markoff keeps a gorilla caged in his laboratory.

Line to listen for: “That cock and bull story was old in César’s time!”

Note of interest: The acromegaly motif is later used in the 1955 sci-fi classic, Tarantula (referred to as acromegalia).

Mark’s rating: ! ! ! out of 5.

IMDB Link

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