Son of Frankenstein (1939)

son of frankenstein poster 1939 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Still a great monster movie

Cliche storylines

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Son of Frankenstein

Studio:  Universal Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  January 13, 1939

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Ygor…you’re my only friend…

Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) is following in his father’s footsteps.  Moving to his family home in the town of Frankenstein, Wolf is immediately treated suspiciously by the villagers and the town inspector Krogh (Lionel Atwill).  When Wolf is contacted by Ygor (Béla Lugosi), Wolf learns his father’s creation has survived.  Now, Wolf has decided to resurrect his father’s greatest creation…but Ygor has other plans for the Monster, and it could mean the Frankenstein family’s doom.

Directed by Rowland V. Lee, Son of Frankenstein is the follow-up to 1935’s The Bride of Frankenstein.  The movie was originally intended to be shot in color, but the Monster’s make-up was deemed unconvincing.  The film was met with positive reviews and a big box-office return.


He’s vintage!

Son of Frankenstein comes from the classic period of Universal Monsters and helped turned the Monster into the legend that he is.  Some of the innovations in Son of Frankenstein were things commonly associated with the character (although it was made eight years after the original film).

The story of Son of Frankenstein is typical of these horror films from this story.  You either get a scientist that is a jerk or a scientist that is a nice guy who is caught in a bad situation…here, you get the nice guy.  Ygor really holds this story together as the true evil character and he pushes the story forward…the Monster’s motivations and actions seem a bit incidental as opposed to Ygor’s prodding.


Got your arm!!!

The cast of Son of Frankenstein is also pretty good.  Sherlock Holmes’ Basil Rathbone is good as “the son” of Frankenstein though Peter Lorre was going to be the star before he had a bout of illness.  The movie also features the last time that Boris Karloff played the Monster (he was having financial issues at the time).  Béla Lugosi however steals the show as Ygor and also good is Lionel Atwill as the wooden armed Inspector Krogh.  The movie also features Donnie Dunagan as Frankenstein’s son Peter and you might recognize his voice as the voice of the young Bambi from the Disney classic.

Visually, the movie is quite good.  After this film, the Frankenstein line went to “B-Movie” status.  The film however seems big and I think the decision to keep it black-and-white was a smart one.  It also introduced the popular Frankenstein look with Frankenstein sporting the fur vest…just another classic Frankenstein look.

When you watch Son of Frankenstein, you can see a lot of Mel Brooks’ classic Young Frankenstein.  It is worth seeing this movie just to compare the two films.  Son of Frankenstein is a Universal Monster classic and help make an iconic character.  Frankenstein’s monster returned in The Ghost of Frankenstein in 1942.

Related Links:

Frankenstein (1931)

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)

House of Frankenstein (1944)

House of Dracula (1945)

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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