Man-Made Monster (1941) – Film Review
Director: George Waggner
Cast: Lon Chaney, Jr, Lionel Atwill, Anne Nagel
By Roger Crow
As a kid I always felt robbed when Ready Brek suggested that eating their cereal would generate an orange aura. Given the turmoil poor Dan McCormick goes through in this movie, I’m pretty glad that glow was never a thing.
If you have a passion for vintage monster movies, then there’s little danger of this offering outstaying its welcome. Clocking in at an hour, there are times when Man-Made Monster feels like a glorified TV episode, though the Blu-ray version is so crisp, it’s hard to believe this is now 80 years old.
It opens with a bus crashing into a power line – the sort of model work which would later become synonymous with Gerry Anderson projects.
The only survivor is McCormick, whose resistance to electricity makes him perfect for what unfolds. His sideline as Dynamo Dan, the Electric Man, makes him a fascinating carnival performer.
Step forward a mad scientist (essential for any 1940s Universal chiller) who transforms Dan into a murderous monster.
The off-camera violence, such as the hero being sent to the electric chair, means there is far more left to the imagination than subsequent offerings such as Wes Craven’s Shocker, and more recently Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which is referenced in the commentary.
So it’s pretty simple, but beautifully put together with a great cast, including Lon Chaney, Jr in his horror film debut; glorious cinematography and those Frankenstein-style props are a delight. (Give me old fashioned valves and machines with dials over digital shenanigans any day of the week). Oh, and it also has one of the most adorable dogs since Toto in The Wizard of Oz.
Living encyclopaedias Kim Newman and Stephen Jones deliver the sort of yack track that defies belief. Their knowledge of every element of the production, cast and effects is inspiring to say the least
So I’d recommend watching it once as a standalone movie, and then again with the commentary as you’ll get so much more out of it.
• Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase
• 1080p presentations on Blu-ray
• Disc One – Man-Made Monster and The Monolith Monsters
• Disc Two – Monster on the Campus (available in both 1.33:1 and 1.85:1 aspect ratios)
• Man-Made Monster – Brand new audio commentary with author Stephen Jones and author / critic Kim Newman
• The Monolith Monsters – Brand new audio commentary with Kevin Lyons and Jonathan Rigby
• Monster on the Campus – Brand new audio commentary with author Stephen Jones and author / critic Kim Newman
• Optional SDH subtitles
• A Limited-Edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films included in this set by film scholar Craig Ian Mann
Man-Made Monster is included on 'Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror', released on Blu-ray by Eureka, £29.99