An adaptation of The Wolf Man by the prolific director Sam Newfield (I Accuse My Parents, State Department: File 649). The theme is turned to account as a variant of The Island of Dr. Moreau in reverse, with a revenge motif.
The thing is built up out of a cast of experienced and talented actors, mobilized by Newfield’s deft technique to point up the script, which notably comes to a fizz in contact with George Zucco, the éminence grise of mad scientists.
It will give you an idea of this picture’s mettle to conceive, if you will, the dramatic scene early on when he imagines his scientific colleagues discussing his theories with him (via trick photography). The conversation becomes heated, and then these phantoms of his own fantasy—get the better of him!
Glenn Strange as Petro the handyman wears his whiskers well, lugs a mauled man of science on his back with ease, and does a charming impression of Lon Chaney, Jr.’s manner of speech.
The Monster Maker
This is mainly composed in close shots, which give a slightly nightmarish feeling by what they exclude. Add to this a Dreyeresque selectivity in set dressing, which (along with the lighting) is proportioned to the shots, and Newfield’s concentration on the faces of his actors, and it makes for a dreamy picture with a flavor of Poe, who is quoted (“To One in Paradise”).
Newfield is a director who is entirely at home in the studio, as a consequence of his understanding how to compose his settings. They make pictures with his actors, who give lovely performances, especially J. Carrol Naish as Dr. Markoff, who is first seen after three or four shots sitting in a box seat at a Chopin recital, wearing white tie and tails.
The subtle point of the script is along the lines of nostalgia turned maniacal, and exposes Ralph Morgan in one scene as a relative of The Elephant Man (this is the theme of The Shining).