The Monster Maker (1944)

Rating: D-

Dir: Sam Newfield
Star: J. Carroll Naish, Ralph Morgan, Wanda McKay, Tala Birell

Another near-short (63 minutes), but this just doesn’t have the ‘oomph’ necessary to last the six decades since its release. A mad scientist (Naish) lusts after the daughter (McKay) of a concert pianist, who resembles his dead wife. When she spurns the conventional flowers, notes, etc., he kidnaps her father and infects him with ‘acromegaly’, a disease (actually, a disorder of the pituitary gland) for which only he has the cure. I guess it’s at least an original, if somewhat optimistic, method of wooing: “Okay, you abducted my dad, and inflicted a grossly disfiguring illness on him. Of course I’ll spend the rest of my life with you, and promise not to stab you repeatedly with a carving-knife the instant he’s well again.”

It’s all very pedestrian, and even at limited length, there’s a lot of stuff not necessary to the plot. For example, you keep waiting for the doc’s gorilla (a man in an unconvincing suit, naturally) to do something, but even when released, the expected rampage never materializes. Naish appears to be channelling Bela Lugosi, so rants, raves and is cruel to his lab assistant (Birell), who loves him anyway – and would, it seems to me, be less likely to do the carving-knife thing. Hey, who said mad scientists were logical? In a three-decade career, Newfield made, according to the IMDB, no less than 269 films, mostly quickie Westerns – but also Marijuana, the Devil’s Weed and the all-midget Terror of Tiny Town. I guess that last one was also a short film… 😉