Starring J. Carrol Naish, Glenn Strange, Ralph Morgan, Tala Birell, and Wanda Mckay. Produced by Sigmond Neufeld (PRC Pictures) Directed by Sam Newfield Music by Albert Glasser

Ralph Morgan
monster with Naish

In April of 1944 Producers Releasing Corp. came out with a low budget horror film, their first in seventeen months at a cost of $305,000 to try and compete with Universal’s success with their monster lineup.Igor Markhoff (Naish) sees Patricia Lawrence (McKay), daughter of concert pianist Lawrence (Morgan), who bears a striking resemblance to his deceased wife. After she refuses the advances of his obsession a confrontation occurs with Markoff knocking out Lawrence allowing him to inject acromegaly, turning his features into a Frankenstein looking monster. With his success in developing a cure X53 for the disease, he offers the serum in exchange for her hand in marriage.  Add a jealous assistant Maxine (Birell), gorilla (Ray Corrigan), and giant (Strange) and you have the cast of horrors. Maxine wants to talk and tell all and Markoff sends the gorilla after her, with her being saved by Ace the Wonder Dog perhaps the hero of the movie. Also playing a small role was Sam Flint who acted in nearly 400 films and television spots in a 40-year career. Finally Lawrence breaks free of the chains and straps that Markoff has used to bind him and kills Markoff. There is an X54 drug which of course cures Lawrence of any effects he may have had and everyone lives happily ever after.

The low budget especially with the make-up for Morgan got in the way of the final product. It looked pretty bad. You have to overlook the fact that acromegaly cannot be transmitted by injection. The cast of Nash, Morgan, Birell, and McKay was more than adequate for the low budget film. In fact, I found the piano playing sequence to be better than others I have seen making me wonder if Albert Glasser himself was playing. In Hollywood, he was the go-to guy for piano tuning and was quite an accomplished pianist. There is a chapter in Tom Weaver’s book Poverty Row Horrors about this movie. It is a film that is ranked as one of the better horror ‘B’ movies although if one ranks the film itself with other ‘B’ movies it is far down on the scale with  movie actor performances and a budget of only several thousand dollars. filmed in less than a week.

It is one of the hundreds of films that are available for free on the internet with a decent picture and sound if you don’t try to make it too big or too loud. The film runs for about an hour so watching it commercial-free is okay. (**)