“You must be mad.” “Of course I’m mad.”
McCormick (Lon Chaney Jr.) has a carnival side show act and bills himself as “The Electric Man”. Because he has built up immunity to the effects of electricity he ends up being the sole survivor of a bus that crashes into electric power lines. Everyone else in the crash was electrocuted. Dr. John Lawrence (Samuel S. Hinds) is an electro-biologist. He becomes intrigued with Dan. He asks him to visit him at his laboratory. Lawrence's assistant, Dr. Paul Rigas (Lionel Atwill), is also an electro-biologist. He believes that human life can be controlled by electricity. He has been conducting experiments to prove his theory. So far with no success.
Lawrence wants to do some general tests on McCormick to find out why he is immune to electrocution. McCormick agrees to move in and allows the tests. As the tests proceed McCormick absorbs increasing amounts of electricity with no ill effects. When Lawrence goes to South America to a conference, Rigas takes over the testing.
Rigas is far more nefarious in his tests. While Lawrence is away Rigas bombards McCormick with five times the amount of electricity than usual. McCormick turns into a walking ball of electricity. When Lawrence gets back he notices that McCormick has become slow and listless. The experiments that Rigas has been subjecting McCormick to have made him become addicted to the electricity. In one final test Rigas gives McCormick a tremendous charge turning Dan in a superhuman. His body glows. He has also turned him into a robot, a servant to his commands. Rigas is insane with power. He wants to create a race of superhuman robots that are under the control of those with super intelligence, in other words him.
When Lawrence tries to interfere with the experiment, Rigas orders Dan to kill him. Dan is arrested and put on trial. He is found guilty and is sentenced to the electric chair. In the chair he absorbs all the electricity that is pumped into him and is returned to superhuman status. He escapes and goes looking for Dr. Rigas.
“Man Made Monster” was released in 1941 and was directed by George Waggner. Later it was re-released under several different titles including “Electric Man” in the UK and “The Mysterious Dr. R.” in the US. In 1953 it was again released by Realart Pictures under the title “The Atomic Monster”. It was one of Universal’s low budget movies. Despite that the special effects were pretty good.
Clocking in a just a little over 59 minutes the movie is fast paced and well done. Performances by Chaney, Atwill and Hinds were good. Granted it’s not Universal’s top shelf but it is an enjoyable movie. Atwill is again one of the best mad scientists around.
Chaney would also be in “The Wolf Man” released that same year. Both of which are noted to have similar themes, Man transformed into a monster by powers beyond himself. The monster as evil and the man as good.
If you are a Lon Chaney fan or even a George Atwill fan you’ll enjoy this one.