Historically speaking, Man-Made Monster marks a significant point in horror film history as it marked the Prince of Pain, Lon Chaney Jr’s first lead role in the genre.
Here Chaney Jr plays the happy-go-lucky Dan McCormick, a man with a curious immunity to an overdose of electricity that propels him to life on the road with a travelling circus.
The story picks up however when McCormick is the sole survivor of a tragic bus accident that collides into a power-line.
Think David Dunn from the Unbreakable series, but less dramatic and moody.
His survival comes to the attention of Dr. John Lawrence (Samuel S. Hinds – It’s A Wonderful Life), who just so happens to be studying the effects of electricity.
The horror element comes in when Lawrence’s assistant, Dr. Paul Rigas (Lionel Atwill – Doctor X) takes the experiment into his own hands to manipulate an unwitting McCormick to undergo a series of tests with massive side effects.
McCormick soon shows signs of fatigue and irritability as a result of the tests and the transformation turns him into a super-charged monster (a walking atomic light bulb) with the ability to kill with a single touch.
This is exactly what occurs when Dr Lawrence finds out and attempts to shed light on Rigas’ illegal scientific experiments.
That won’t hold water and Rigas ensures that McCormick (who is now under the mad scientists’ rule) stops Lawrence at all costs.
Despite a fairly low box office return and that it bared all too similarity to the Lugosi/Karloff feature, The Invisible Ray (a reason that the film had been shelved for a few years), it is a fairly stable movie and boasts great performances from both Atwill and Chaney Jr.
For Chaney Jr. it would propel him into stardom and into a career that he could never shake, especially with The Wolf Man just around the corner, but there’s good reason as he’s definitely a captivating presence on screen.
- Saul Muerte