Movie Review: Man-Made Monster (1941)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1941 movie starring Lon Chaney, Jr. and Lionel Atwill.

Synopsis: Following a tragic accident involving a bus hitting a high-voltage power line, a renowned scientist chooses to study the lone survivor, who appears to be immune to electricity, in an effort to find a way to "vaccinate" people and prevent accidental electrocutions. However, his mad scientist colleague has another agenda and secretly conducts his own electrical experiments in an effort to create a race of electrically-charged super men.


My wife was attending a co-workers birthday party yesterday evening and, since I owed my oldest daughter a father/daughter movie night, I ended up picking out this movie to watch with her, mostly because both of us are big Chaney, Jr. fans.

This was my first time seeing this particular film, which predates "The Wolf Man" by a few months, and I didn't really know what to expect from it. But, after seeing it for the first time, I did think it was an OK movie.

The special effects in this film were somewhat dated and a bit weak as a result. Plus, there were some scenes in the movie that seemed to be ripped off from the film "Frankenstein." However, mostly because of a solid performance by Chaney, Jr., the movie was more than watchable. His character, "Dynamo" Dan McCormick, was charming and friendly enough to be likable, which made his transformation into an electric zombie much more dramatic.

The actor who really steals the scenes in this movie, however, is Atwill as Dr.  Paul Rigas. The thing I really liked about his character was the way he pretty much admitted he was "mad" whenever anyone broached the subject. This was important because most movies in this genre involve a scientist who is trying to do something to better mankind. Rigas' goal of creating an army of electronically-charged super men who would do his bidding seemed like the exact opposite of that.

Probably the only thing I would caution you on when watching this film is it isn't much of a thriller. In fact, I probably would describe if more as a science fiction drama. This is because "Dynamo" Dan is more of a victim than a monster and, as a result of that, it makes his transformation more sad than scary, especially toward the very end of the movie. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it is worth noting before you watch it.

Man Made Monster

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Final Opinion

The movie is helped, a lot, by a talented cast and my daughter and I did enjoy watching this film as a result. I do recommend it if you're looking for a classic science fiction film to watch.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 05/01/2016, StevenHelmer
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