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XSECRET ORIGINS OF FRANKENSTEIN - CHAPTER 12 OF 18
FRANKENSTEIN AND SONS

Why did Universal wait as full five years after "Bride of Frankenstein" to begin filming the third film in the series?

It had to do with another "son." James Whale's ally, producer Carl Laemmle Jr., son of the famous Carl Laemmle, was ousted when Universal was sold in 1937. The studio's NEW head, Charles R. Rogers, was no fan of horror movies, so he stopped making them. Bad move.

Universal lost three million dollars during Rogers' brief reign, but a hugely successful 1938 re-release of Frankenstein on a double-bill with the original Dracula was a smash hit, and proved there was still big money to be made with horror pictures.
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A year later, horror hater Charles Rogers was replaced by Nathan Blumberg, and the Universal monster machine was back in business -- with Karloff, but without James Whale.

Peter Lorre had been announced to play the son of Frankenstein, but the title role ultimately went to Basil Rathbone. Karloff had always believed the Monster should never talk, and he agreed to third billing under Rathbone ONLY if he had no dialogue. The script was rewritten to accommodate him, and as a result the Monster doesn‘t speak at all in this movie.

At the end of the original Frankenstein, the doctor's father had toasted "To a son of the House of Frankenstein.” He eventually got his wish -- TWO sons, the first starring in (what else?) "Son of Frankenstein" (I939), directed by Rowland Lee. In this film, Frankenstein's son (Basil Rathbone) encounters the Monster his father created...
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The Monster's appearance changed between the first two films to reflect burns he suffered when a fiery windmill collapsed on top of him. In "Son," the Monster's appearance changes yet again...
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In this movie, Frankenstein's son (Basil Rathbone) returns to Castle Frankenstein, and is disheartened when he is not welcomed warmly by the villagers. ...
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In Eerie #2, in a story titled "Frankensteins' Footsteps" by Archie Goodwin and Reed Crandall, a Basil Rathbone look-alike meets with an even worse response...
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ENTER BELA

Son introduced Bela Lugosi to the series in the role of Ygor (see below). Lugosi, who took his stage name from his native Lugos, Hungary, had previously rejected the role of the Monster, but Xhe was now down on his luck financially, and was more than happy to join the lucrative franchise. Son wound up costing $420,000 to make.

Pitiless Universal, aware of Lugosi's situation, cut his usual salary in half and demanded that he complete all his scenes in a week. Rowland Lee responded by padding Lugosi's shooting schedule, and including him prominently in a number of lab scenes for no particular reason. Many consider Lugosi's sly portrayal of the fiendish, sinister Ygor to be his finest hour.

DC Comics colorized movie stills and promo photos to adapt the movie to comic book form in Movie Comics #1 (April 1939, cover pictured right). The panels below show how Ygor was incorporated into the story...
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As it says above, "The Monster was a creature of Ygor's crazed will."
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The monster isn't revived until a full hour into Son, and when he does finally show up, he's ditched his black coat and T-shirt for a brand new fleece vest! This is the outfit artist Jack Davis immortalized in a giant "life size" poster, advertised in countless monster magazines...
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"JACK DAVIS GOOD!"
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TERROR IN TECHNICOLOR

Taking place largely in a wonderfully atmospheric, angular mansion that looks like it was designed by Dr. Caligari's architect (courtesy of set designer Jack Otterson), this film is greatly weakened by its plodding, formulaic script.

What did the now-famous monster make-up look like in COLOR? We can see real color shots of the Monster in Karloff's home movies, taken during the filming of Son. They show Boris in full regalia, clowning around with his "other" creator, Universals make-up genius Jack Pierce. It's a 31-second clip. IT MUST BE SEEN, AND RIGHT NOW!
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Ygor, seeking revenge on the jury who unsuccessfully tried to hang him for grave robbing, convinces Dr. Frankenstein's son, Wolf, to help restore the Monster to full power. Wolf x-rays the monster's chest, and discovers that even with two bullets lodged in his heart, he still lives!
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WoIf decides to restore the "Frankenstein" family name by reviving the Monster "so the world can study his abnormal functions.” Oh yeah -- that’ll work. Instead, Ygor uses the Monster as a henchman to carry out his e-vil revenge schemes.

MIRROR, MIRROR

Karloff's only real chance to showcase his acting ability comes during a fascinating scene where the monster is alternately perplexed and horrified by his reflection in a huge and very conveniently-placed mirror...
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The Monster saw his reflection in a pool of water in Bride, but this scene from Son was apparently the FIRST time the monster's reanimated eyes saw his appearance in a MIRROR! Karloff makes the most of it in this 2 minute 46 second clip, which must be clicked, and must be clicked NOW...
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During filming, the cast threw a surprise party! Not for the 80th birthday of the very first Frankenstein film, which this DBB series celebrates, but for Boris Karloff's 50th birthday!
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When the fully-costumed Karloff reached over the table to get blow out his birthday candles, he accidentally got cake all over his fleece vest...
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The vest had to be removed and cleaned before filming could resume. Meanwhile, vest-less Karloff enjoyed his cake with co-star Basil Rathbone. Hey look! Son of Frankenstein Monster was wearing suspenders!
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Later that same day, 51-year-old birthday boy Karloff received word that his first CHILD had been born! It was a girl, and the Karloffs named her Sara. Pictured below is Sara Karloff as an adult.
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"Son of Frankenstein" ran 99 minutes, making it the longest film in the series. The movie ends with Wolf shooting Ygor several times at point-blank range, and then shoving the Monster (or at least his stunt man) into a boiling sulfur pit. Reader, if you've ever smelled sulphur... ugh! The SMELL of a sulphur pit ALONE could be enough to kill you.
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An artist's rendition of the scene above was used to complete DC's Movie Comics version of the story...
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And for Karloff, it WAS the end. "The re was not much left in the character of the Monster to be developed; we had reached his limits," Karloff said. "I saw that from here on, he would become rather an oafish prop, so to speak, in the last act or something like that, without any great stature." How prescient! That's exactly what would happen. And Karloff would never return to the part again.

Despite working together on Son as well as several other movies, Lugosi and Karloff never became close friends. There was always a tremendous rivalry between the two horror icons. Bela's highly-competitive attitude toward Boris is captured in the 73-second clip below.

According to many who knew him, Lugosi never used profanity, and the attitude portrayed in this clip is highly exaggerated. But it's still fun. Wanna see a PROFANITY-LACED rant from Martin Landau playing Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's Ed Wood? Then click. Click NOW. Why are you still reading? Stop it and click!
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How did Karloff and Lugosi REALLY get along? Watch them interact in the 34-second promotional film below, and judge for yourself! Eli Wallach narrates. You know what to do.
Son of Frankenstein was the last time Karloff would play the Monster in a motion picture. As far as he was concerned, the character was finally dead -- but that only meant that the inevitable next movie would have to star his GHOST.
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