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The Mad Monster

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The Mad Monster (1942), starring George Zucco, Glenn Strange, Ann Nagel, Johnny Downs
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The Mad Monster (1942), starring George Zucco, Glenn Strange, Ann Nagel, Johnny Downs

Synopsis of The Mad Monster

In The Mad Monster, Dr. Cameron (George Zucco) has succeeded in his experiments with a serum which will turn a man into a wolf-like monster and is ready to avenge himself on the men who caused his professional failure. He uses it on his gardener Petro (Glenn Strange) and one after the other is killed by his creation. His daughter, Lenora (Anne Nagel), grows suspicious and confides with newspaper reporter Tom Gregory (Johnny Downs).

Cast of The Mad Monster

  • Dr. Lorenzo Cameron (George ZuccoThe Mad Ghoul) – the mad scientist, who proves his crazy theory of transferring traits from an animal to a human. In this case, he transfers wolf traits to his mentally slow gardener and uses the wolf-man to take revenge on his enemies.
  • Pedro (Glenn StrangeBud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein) – the nice, large, not-very-bright gardener, who becomes the recurring victim of the mad doctor’s experiments. He doesn’t remember the murders that he commits, except in his dreams.
  • Lenora Cameron (Anne NagelBlack Friday) – the mad scientist’s lovely daughter, who’s unaware of what he’s really doing, and become the love interest for the handsome reporter.
  • Tom Gregory (Johnny DownsAlgiers) – the handsome reporter investigating the string of murders. He falls in love with Lenora, only to suspect her father.

Review of The Mad Monster

Glenn Strange as the strapped down Petro, about to be turned into the Mad MonsterI

In short, The Mad Monster feels like a cross between The Wolf Man and The Devil Bat — but not as entertaining as either. Glenn Strange does a good job as the sympathetic, simple-minded man who is repeatedly turned into a monster. Quite frankly, he’s reminiscent of Lon Chaney Jr.s portrayal of Lennie in Of Mice and Men. That’s a compliment, for those who haven’t seen the movie. But having said that, Glenn Strange’s character, Petro, is two-dimensional. That’s part of the problem with the movie — all of the characters are two-dimensional, and not fleshed out.

George Zucco as the mad scientist in The Mad Monster

George Zucco does a good job of at least setting his character’s motivation at the beginning of the film. He imagines that he addresses his former colleagues, who ridiculed his theory and had him driven out of the university. It serves a dual purpose, to suggest to the audience that the doctor might be slightly unhinged. Since he murders a young girl simply to test his control over Petro, that’s an understatement. And then there’s the matter of using a whip to control his wolfman …

At the end, the victims are murdered, the reporter suspects – but can’t prove – and fate takes a hand.  The doctor meets his maker, as does poor Petro.

In short, The Mad Monster is an unspectacular old-school werewolf movie. I rate it only a C.

Trivia for The Mad Monster

  • George Zucco’s estate set was reused for Zucco’s crypt in Dead Men Walk (1943).
  • The mother of the murdered girl was played by Mae Busch, formerly an early movie star with Laurel and Hardy. How fleeting is fame …
  • Clocking in at 77 minutes, The Mad Monster ranks as the longest “B” picture made on Poverty Row in the 1940s.

Cast of characters

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