Mad Monster, The

Tagged: Film

Film (1942). Producers Releasing Corporation. Produced by Sigmund Neufeld. Directed by Sam Newfield. Written by Fred Myton. Cast includes Gordon De Main, Johnny Downs, Anne Nagel, Glenn Strange, Robert Strange and George Zucco. 77 minutes. Black and white.

Somewhere in southeastern US swamplands Dr Lorenzo Cameron (Zucco) conducts experiments to turn humans into animal-men, here a type of Werewolf. His mentally handicapped groundskeeper Petro (Strange) is that test subject. Having developed a transforming serum from the blood of wolves, Cameron opts in typical Mad Scientist fashion to revenge himself via Petro against university colleagues who objected to such research forced his resignation. After killing a young child on a test mission, Petro eliminates one of these former associates, Professor Blaine (Strange).

Meanwhile Cameron's daughter Lenora (Nagel) wishes to leave the isolated area and return to the city where her reported boyfriend Tom Gregory (Downs) works. Cameron puts her off and invites former colleague Professor Fitzgerald (De Main) to visit, while Petro wanders the countryside killing more locals. After arguing with Cameron, Fitzgerald is persuaded to drive Petro into town; previously injected with the serum, Petro transforms inside the car, which crashes. Cameron finishes off Fitzgerald with poison. Gregory, convinced Cameron is somehow behind the killings, confronts him in his mansion but is interrupted by the returning Petro in his werewolf state. A storm has arisen; lightning strikes the laboratory, setting it ablaze. Petro kills Cameron while Tom and Lenora escape; the structure collapses on Petro as flames consume it, apparently destroying all evidence of Cameron's monster-making.

A typical low-budget Horror in SF film of the era, The Mad Monster may be the first to suggest scientific creation of werewolves. Though Zucco delivers his usual solid performance, the script rife with period Clichés such as man meddling with the rightful course of nature and trespassing in God's territory. [GSt/DRL]

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