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Film: Son of Frankenstein

Son of Frankenstein is a 1939 horror film, the third film in Universal's Frankenstein series. It stars Basil Rathbone as the eponymous son, Bela Lugosi as Ygor and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's Monster for the final time in his career (Dr. Victor Frankenstein does not appear in the film however, due to Colin Clive's death in 1937).

A couple decades after the events of Bride of Frankenstein, Dr. Wolf von Frankenstein with his wife and son arrive in the town of Frankenstein (previously known as Goldstadt) to claim his inheritance from his late father, namely the Castle Frankenstein. Terror of the Monster still fresh on their minds, the townsfolk shun Wolf but he keeps his mind open. He meets his father's previous assistant Ygor, who survived a hanging attempt following his conviction for Grave Robbing. Ygor reveals that the Monster is still alive, but is in bad shape due to being struck by lightning one night, and begs Wolf to help it. Wolf decides to restore the Monster in the name of science, but Ygor has other plans in mind...

Son is considered to be Universal's last great Frankenstein movie and Lugosi's portrayal of Ygor is often hailed as his career's high-point. Its basic concept and a number of ideas unique to it (e.g. Krogh's artificial arm) were specifically parodied by Young Frankenstein.

The film was followed by The Ghost of Frankenstein.

Son of Frankenstein contains examples of:

  • Awesome McCoolname: Baron Wolf von Frankenstein. Though this could also double as Names to Run Away From Really Fast, considering his eagerness of following his father's footsteps.
  • Brains and Brawn: The Monster is back to being a lumbering brute, who takes orders from Ygor.
  • Broad Strokes:
    • This film appears to be based on a scenario where Henry dies at the end of Bride, but Elizabeth survives (either while pregnant or already having sons). (The original ending of Bride where Henry dies would mean Elizabeth does, too) there are other things that don't quite gel with the previous film as well.
    • The previous movies seemed to depict the Monster's entire career, but now we're told that he ripped off young Krogh's arm at some point.
  • Call Back: As Wolf surveys the Monster's comatose body, he sees its hand moving. Startled, he yells "He's alive!"
  • Conspicuous Gloves: Inspector Krogh has a prosthetic arm (having lost his right arm when a child, the Monster tearing it off the boy) and he wears a glove on it indoors and out. He does remove the left glove in some indoors scenes There's a bit of black comedy when the actor (Lionel Atwill) sets the position of his right arm with his left hand to "demonstrate" the right arm is prosthetic.
  • Double Meaning Title: The title "Son of Frankenstein" refers to both Frankenstein's biological son and the constructed one.
  • Drop the Hammer: Ygor tries to attacke Baron with his smithing hammer when he comes looking for him. It doesn't end well for old Ygor, who gets shot where he stands.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Monster tries to drop Wolf's son into a sulfur pit as revenge for "killing" Ygor, but can't bring himself to go through with it.
  • Failed a Spot Check: As Wolf is lead into his father's and grandfather's crypt by Ygor, he fails to notice the Monster's comatose body lying few feet away from him as he enters there. Only once his attention from caskets is drawn away he notices it.
  • Fainting: Amelia faints at the sight of the Monster when he comes to kidnap Wolf's son.
  • For Science!: Wolf's reason to heal the Monster. He also hopes to clear his family name by fixing the monster's brain, proving that his father had the right idea and just made a mistake.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: The darts scene. You might as well replace Basil Rathbone and Lionel Atwill's dialogue with "See here, I'm about to out-act you!" "Oh really? Well, I say I'M about to out-act YOU!"
  • Have a Gay Old Time: A refrence is made to being "gay as larks".
  • High-Class Glass: Inspector Krogh wears one as a part of his attire.
  • The Igor: Ygor is the Trope Namer, but he just helped the Frankenstein senior in Grave Robbing, not in science experiments. The Trope Maker is Fritz from the first film.
  • The Man They Couldn't Hang: Ygor was hanged in the past for his compliance in robbing graves for Frankenstein senior. His neck broke and he was pronounced dead, but came back.
  • Secret Path: Castle Frankenstein has several hidden doors and paths, which Ygor and the Monster use to move about unseen.
  • Spiteful Spit: As he is leaving being questioned by the townsmen, Ygor fakes a coughing fit to spit in the eye of Neumüller, one of the men whom sentenced him to be hanged. He returns the favour the next time they meet.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: After the death of Lang, the town apothecary, the citizens try storm the gates of Frankenstein castle, but are stopped by Krogh's gendarmes.


The Invisible RayUniversal HorrorThe Mummy's Hand
Sky HighTropeNamers/FilmSpaceballs
The Invisible RayFranchise/Universal HorrorThe Mummy's Hand
Bride of FrankensteinHorror FilmsThe Ghost of Frankenstein
Bride of FrankensteinCreator/UniversalFrost/Nixon
Bride of FrankensteinFilms of the 1930sMarx Brothers
Skunk StripeImageSource/Live-Action FilmsThe Igor

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