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Man Made Monster

Entry updated 6 September 2019. Tagged: Film.

US film (1941; vt Atomic Monster). Universal Pictures. Associate Producer Jack Bernhard. Directed by George Waggner. Written by Waggner from the story "The Electric Man" by Harry Essex (credited as H J Essex), Sid Schwartz and Len Golos. Cast includes Frank Albertson, Lionel Atwill, Lon Chaney Jr, Samuel S Hinds and Anne Nagel. 59 minutes. Black and white.

"Big" Dan McCormick (Chaney) – a carnival sideshow performer as Dynamo Dan, the Electric Man – survives a bus crash in which the vehicle slams into power lines, electrocuting everyone aboard except himself. Intrigued by McCormick's high tolerance to electricity, Dr John Lawrence (Hinds) asks to study him for a time, an offer to which Dan agrees. However, Lawrence's assistant Dr Paul Rigas (Atwill) is a Mad Scientist who has secretly been working on methods to create electrically-controlled human slaves, and sees McCormick as the perfect test subject. Soon, McCormick has built up the ability to store tremendous charges of electrical energy, but the next step turns him into little more than a mindless zombie. Dr Lawrence discovers what Rigas has done, so Rigas has McCormick murder Lawrence and then confess to the killing. Sentenced to die in the electric chair, McCormick instead becomes a living dynamo who quickly escapes. McCormick wanders the countryside, killing several people including Rigas with his electrocuting touch. Finally he becomes entangled in a barbed-wire fence, and dies as the power drains from him through the wires to earth. In a fashion typical for the period, June Lawrence (Nagel) helps burn all Dr Rigas's notes on the ground that he was tampering with subjects best left alone. This modest film won Chaney the title role in the monster film The Wolfman (1941) and perhaps influenced the creation of the Marvel Comics villain Electro, who possesses similar abilities. Chaney had a near-reprise of his Man Made Monster role in Indestructible Man (1956). [GSt]


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