The Monster Maker (1944)

MARCH 5, 2008


Well after the insanity of Repo, anything would probably seem boring today (I should watch my beloved Armageddon and see if I find it “too slow” now). But The Mad Monster is especially slow, with less action than normal for a film of the era and not a lot going on otherwise.

Here’s another one for “someone remake THIS!” list. The plot is actually kind of awesome: a mad scientist turns a guy into an Elephant man, holding the cure ransom. The desired reward? The guy’s daughter, who the scientist thinks is a spitting image of his late wife (who he accidentally killed when he tried to make her ugly so that no one else would want her). Someone like Cronenberg could make an AMAZING movie out of this. But director Sam Newfield (who did the much better Dead Men Walk) and writers Pierre Gendron and Martin Mooney don’t really do much with the concept, or a giant ape that the scientist keeps in a cage. When your movie has a giant ape, he damn well better kill lots of people OR play hero at the end. In this movie, the damn thing disappears with another 20 minutes to go.

And what’s with all the horror movies that use the pituitary gland as a means for crazy scientific nonsense? In this movie it has something to do with turning folks into Elephant men. In Leech Woman, she used it to keep young. And other movies have come up with different uses for this largely un-cared about part of the human body. My theory is, since no one other than doctors and scientists really know what it does (as opposed to say, the uvula, which you gotta be fucking stupid not to know about!), screenwriters have the creative license to use it for whatever nonsense they come up with for their silly horror movies.

My favorite part of the movie came at the very beginning. A guy walks into the room and tells our eventual victim, “A man is here to see you, he says his name is Doctor Igor Markoff.” He then hands over the guy’s card, and we are treated to a closeup:

LOL. Well at least he wasn’t lying. There’s also an odd credit at the end for the dog in the film: “Ace.... By Himself”. I am not familiar with mid century lingo – is saying BY himself instead of AS himself something folks just did? Or was the creditor just a bit confused on his adverb prepositions? Well, whatever. Other than the wonderfully evil J. Carroll Naish as Markoff, there’s not much here to recommend unless you are a fellow budget pack obsessive.

What say you?


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