The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
Directed by Erle C. Kenton
Starring Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Bellamy, Lionel Atwill, Evelyn Ankers, Janet Ann Gallow, Barton Yarborough, Dwight Frye
There are certain movies from our childhood that still hold a type of charm over us. Ones that when watching it as an adult, even though the film might have flaws, or just isn’t the best, it still is able to recreate the same feeling it did upon that first viewing, all those years ago. The Ghost of Frankenstein is one of those for me. I still consider the original 1931 Frankenstein film one of my favorites and a much better film, but for some reason, I’d probably be more likely to sit down and watch Ghost on some afternoon than the original. Maybe because watching the original, I view it more like an adult, but with Ghost, it makes me feel like a 14 year old kid again watching it on my 13-inch black and white TV. That was when I first got to see this and I can still remember sitting there in my room, eyes glued to the little television set.
There is something to be said about seeing the old Universal classic monster films on the big screen. As many times as we’ve seen them on our TVs, it still doesn’t have the same impact of seeing them projected on a huge screen, inside a theater with a bunch of like minded film fans. There really is something magical about it and is something that every fan of these wonderful films should have the chance to experience that way. Well, if you’re anywhere near Canton, Ohio in October, then you will have the chance to do just that.
Erle C. Kenton
Born Aug. 1st, 1896 – Died Jan. 28th, 1980
While Kenton didn’t make but 4 horror movies in his career, the ones he did do are pretty important. He started as an actor, but took any job in the industry to learn as much as he could. Then in 1919, he got to direct his first picture. In his career, he directed 131 films, sometimes making over 10 pictures a year. In 1924, he directed a total of 15 films. Pretty funny when you compare it to today’s working directors and how often they turn out films.
Kenton was mainly known for directing comedies, even doing a couple for Abbott & Costello. But his first entry in the horror genre was in 1932, which is probably his best, the classic Island of Lost Souls (though author H.G. Wells would probably argue that point). Kind of strange that a man known for comedies could turn out a dark film like this one. Sure, some say that Laughton’s over-acting makes it a dark comedy, though I’ve always found this film pretty disturbing and quite effective.
His remaining efforts might not be as good, but are not only entertaining, but staples in the genre. With The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), House of Frankenstein (1944), and House of Dracula (1945), he helped continue the Universal monster series with some entertaining films. Sure, they weren’t the same classics that James Whale had turned out, but us monster kids just ate them up. And even today, as dated as they might be, I still find them pretty entertaining, as do many other classic monster fans.