“You have set yourself up as a Frankenstein and created a monster. I am that monster.”
Dr. Igor Markoff (J. Carrol Naish) is a mad scientist. And by mad I mean narcisstic, sociopathic, psychopath. He has created a formula that, when given to someone, will give them a hideous disease known as acromegaly. The disease extends the bones and distorts the facial features. The progression of the disease is quicker than it would normally be.
One evening he is attending a concert by the famed pianist Anthony Lawrence (Ralph Morgan). In the next box he sees a young woman who is the spitting image of his long gone wife who he supposedly lost in some sort of tragic accident. He stares at the young woman long enough to make her extremely uncomfortable. The young lady turns out to be Lawrence’s daughter Patricia (Wanda McKay). She is there with her fiancé Bob Blake (Terry Frost).
Markoff develops an obsession for Patricia. He sends her flowers three times a day and notes of affection. So much to the point that Patricia is afraid of him and just wants it to stop. Her father goes to Markoff’s home to confront him. Markoff declares that he is going to marry Patricia. Lawrence, outraged, threatens to call the police. Markoff hits Lawrence over the head and renders him unconscious. While Lawrence is unconscious Markoff injects him with the acromegaly serum.
Acromegaly is a disease that affects the dreaded pituitary gland. Markoff has also developed an antidote to the horrible disease. In return for the antidote, Markoff demands that Lawrence convince his daughter to marry him.
“The Monster Maker” was released in 1944. It was directed by Sam Newfield and produced by his brother Sigmund Neufeld. The movie, only about 62 minutes long, was distributed by PRC (Producers Releasing Corporation). PRC is one of the poverty row movie companies. They specialized in mostly westerns, but did do some horror pictures.
The movie is a little slower in pace than I would have liked, at least until the end, but J Carrol Naish is fantastic as the diabolical Dr. Markoff. He is a nasty little man. During the movie you find out he disfigured his wife to prevent anyone from enjoying her beauty. In her despair she killed herself. He is one of those “if I can’t have you no one can” sort of guys. You can’t help but think of it as a psychological drama more than a horror movie. Dr. Markoff has more neuroses than ten mad scientists.
And as mad scientists go he has the proverbial female assistant who is in love with him and will do whatever he says. He also has, for some reason, a gorilla in a cage. I guess gorilla suits in the 40’s were all the rage. The make-up for the movie was actually decent enough. They made an effort to not cover Lawrence’s mouth so he could talk and you actually got to see facial features. Something that is lacking in a lot of low budget horror movies. If you are looking for something low end, or you are a fan of J. Carrol Naish, or even "Ace the wonder dog", you should check it out.
The dog Ace was played by “Ace the Wonder Dog”. He has fifteen acting credits to his name. Glen Strange has a bit part as a clinic aide.