Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The overall blandness is spiced up by the exteme sadism of the bad guy

The Monster Maker (1944)
Starring: J. Carroll Naish, Tala Birell, Wanda McKay, Ralph Morgan and Terry Frost
Director: Sam Newfield
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

A mad scientist (Naish) goes to extreme measures to force the daughter (McKay) of a celebrated concert pianist (Morgan) to marry him.

"The Monster Maker" is a sadistic little horror film about a maniac with a talent for epidemiology, the young lady he wants to possess no matter what, and her father that he infects with a horrible disease to make it happen.

The movie is a little on the slow side, the acting is uniformly bland and the camera work is even more so. However, the absolute and pure insane evil that is represented by J. Caroll Naish's character of Dr. Markoff will make you stick with the film. His plan to force the lovely Patricia to marry him can't possibly work, but he proceeds with the unwavering certainty that only a complete lunatic would display... and the film gets increasingly sadistic toward its various characters as it unfolds.

Dr. Markoff may well be one of the most evil mad scientists of the first decade of horror cinema, not to mention one of the craziest. (I can't comment on the full reason why I say he's the evilest and craziest as it ruins one of the film's shocking revelations, but take my word for it: You haven't seen the final word in an evil mad scientist until you've seen "The Monster Maker".

The film is also noteworthy if you're interested in following the trail of the obviously fake gorillas that were so common(and possibly even proscribed by some sort of cinematic code) among low-budget film studios in the 1940s. Perhaps it was the same fake gorilla? It shows up again here and it's just as unintentionally hilarious as every other time it shows up.

(Has anyone tried to catalogue the number of times these fake gorillas showed up during the 1940s? If not, there might be an article in that idea....)

"The Monster Maker" is worth checking out if you're into mad scientists and/or fake gorilla suits. I highly recommend the version available from Alpha Video as the DVD transfer was made from a virtually prestine print of the film. Click here to read more about, or to order a copy, it at (There are some minor scratches, but it's in far better shape than what is typical for films from long-bankrupt minor studios like PRC.)