Producers Releasing Corp. created some of the cheapest horror movies of the era with very
little money for effects and a decent cast. The Missing Link
reviews The Monster Maker, one of their better grade-Z productions.
The Monster Maker (1944)
A mad scientist in love
with the monster's daughter...
Astounding! Amazing! Shocking!
Releasing Co.) 62mins. BW. US.
Credits: Dir: Sam Newfield; Prod: Sigmund Neufeld; Sc: Pierre
Gendron, Martin Mooney & Lawrence Williams; Ph: Robert Kline; Ed: Holbrook N. Todd;
Art: Paul Palmentola & Elias H. Reif; Mu: Maurice Seiderman; Mus: Albert Glasser. From
a story by Lawrence Williams.
Cast: Ralph Morgan, Tala Birell, Terry Frost, J. Carrol Naish, Wanda McKay, Glenn Strange, Alexander Pollard, Sam Flint.
Director Sam Newfield (1899-1964) can
perhaps be counted as one of the most prolific directors that worked in Hollywood.
Unfortunately from his beginnings in 1926 to his final feature in 1958, only once did he
venture outside of the low-budget mire with ADVENTURE ISLAND (1947), a colour film for
Paramount for which he was credited under the alias of Peter Stewart. The majority of his
output was a steady stream of 60 minute action films, mostly westerns, all with rock
bottom budgets for cut-price movie studios.
Newfield ventured into horror territory
fairly rarely, producing only The Mad Monster
(1941), Dead Men Walk (1943) and two ludicrous
jungle adventures titled Nabonga (1944) and White Pongo (1945). Regardless of the title,
generally the films were all similar, low budget potboilers.
THE MONSTER MAKER on the other hand is a modest, but interesting diversion made for
Producers Releasing Corp. whose executive producer just happened to be Newfield's elder
Anthony Laurence, (Ralph Morgan), a
celebrated concert pianist, is performing before a packed house, but one member of the
audience, Dr. Igor Markoff, (J. Carroll Naish), is intent on seducing Laurence's daughter
Patricia, (Wanda McKay), who bears more than a passing resemblance to his deceased wife.
Markoff's aid Maxine, (Tala Birell), notices her employer's fascination and whispers into
his ear "the dead have no place amongst the living", to which Markoff
cooly replies "I shall be the judge of that".
In the following days Patricia pleads with her father to visit Markoff to make perfectly
clear that his attentions are unwelcome. However, during Laurence's confrontaion with the
doctor, a scuffle ensues and Markoff takes the opportunity to inject Laurence with X54, a
drug that induces the rare deforming disease acromegaly.
Markoff is presently working on an antidote to X54, but as yet the potion is incomplete.
During an altercation with Maxine, the aid reminds Markoff of his secret past and that he
isn't Dr. Markoff at all, but a man who fled from Europe under the doctor's name after he
killed the real Markoff when he discovered the doctor and his wife were having an affair.
To make sure that his wife would not stray again, he injected her with the acromegaly, but
the sight of her disfigured face drove her to suicide.
Slowly Laurence becomes deformed and seeks the help of his doctor who advises him to visit
the acknowledged authority on the disease, none other than Dr. Markoff.
In the confrontation that follows Laurence exclaims "Markoff! You have set
yourself up as a Frankenstein for if you remember, the
monster destroyed the man who created him!"
Before Laurence's hands can wrap themselves around Markoff's throat, one of the doctor's
aids, a giant henchman named Steve, (Glenn Strange), manacles the poor unfortunate to a
bed. Markoff gloats over Laurence's disfigured form insisting that he be allowed to court
Patricia in exchange for the antidote. In a moment of rage, Laurence breaks free and
Markoff is killed. Maxine, who has realised that the imposter Markoff was evil, adminsters
the antidote to the pianist.
At sixty two minutes, the plot
is over as soon as it begins, but any longer and the film would only induce slumber.
Although this could be considered the best of PRC's output, and the makeup remains rather
impressive, the film is nothing more than an interesting diversion that thankfully
consumes only an hour of the viewer's time.
Video available click here...