Goregirl’s Werewolf Project: THE MAD MONSTER (1942)
I am officially numb to the ratings on IMDB. All three of the werewolf films I watched this week all received a failing grade on IMDB! Had I been scared off by The Mad Monster’s 3.1 rating, I would have missed out on an entertaining film. The Mad Monster is not nearly as polished as the Universal monster movies of the time, but it is definitely not without its charms.
Dr. Lorenzo Cameron, discredited by his peers has lost his prestigious position at the university. The doctor has lost face in the scientific community due to his experiments mixing animal blood with humans. His goal is to create a super soldier who would kill with animal-like instincts. He secures a rundown house in a small village located in the swamplands. He is accompanied by his daughter Lenora, who is unaware of the nature of her father’s experiments. He continues his work using Petro, a simple handyman as his guinea pig. He shoots Petro with a concoction using wolf’s blood which transforms the unfortunate fellow into a wolf man. He must let the wolf man Petro roam free to conclude the gentle giant will kill without mercy. The experiment is a success as the monster kills a small child who lives nearby. With this incredible achievement he can now satisfy his lust for revenge against the four professors who discredited him.
The film opens in the lab of Dr. Lorenzo Cameron. There is a wolf in a cage and beakers galore and Petro, the doc’s simple handyman is strapped to a table. He is injected with a serum and we see him transform into a wolf man. Dr. Cameron than has a spirited discussion with the four professors who discredited him. Instead of using a flashback the doc is having hallucinations that the men are all gathered in his laboratory. It establishes the back story and the doctor’s lunacy in one nice tight ten minute segment. This is the earliest example I’ve seen of a serum turning a man as opposed to being bitten by another werewolf. In fact, my next review will also feature a serum-inspired werewolf! The transformation isn’t half bad and the makeup looks decent. What does hamper this one a bit is the way the actor moves about when transformed. More accurately, his lack of movement. He really just walks about and doesn’t seem animal-like at all. He is far too pokey for my liking. I also did not like seeing a wolf chained up in that tiny cage for the duration of the film. Petro is a giant of a man with girth, height and strength, an obvious choice for the doc’s experiments. I had a lot of empathy for the Petro character. The doc however has no issues at all taking advantage of the man’s simplicity. Dr. Cameron is about as warm as a cactus, even with his own daughter. It is his daughter and her nosey reporter boyfriend that inevitably complicate his evil plans. That said Dr. Cameron played by George Zucco gives a terrific campy performance. He is a prickly, obsessed bastard given to moments of complete wackiness. The perfect mad scientist! The acting as a rule isn’t bad at all. The movie does show some age in regards to the actual film print. The sound was also a problem at times. I suspect this little cheapie was not well taken care of over the years. There is a decent amount of action and they spread the good stuff out evenly throughout the film. It also has a delightfully rambunctious finale. I enjoyed The Mad Monster; but I think its title better describes the doctor than the film’s werewolf. Recommended!