The Monster Maker (1944) poster

The Monster Maker (1944)


USA. 1944.


Director – Sam Newfield, Screenplay – Pierre Gendron & Martin Mooney, Story – Lawrence Williams, Producer – Sigmund Neufeld, Photography (b&w) – Robert E. Cline, Music – Albert Glasser, Art Direction – Paul Palmontella. Production Company – PRC.


J. Carrol Naish (Dr Igor Markoff), Wanda McKay (Patricia Lawrence), Ralph Morgan (Anthony Lawrence), Tala Birell (Maxine), Terry Frost (Bob Blake), Alex Pollard (Stack)


At a recital by pianist Anthony Lawrence, Dr Igor Markoff becomes fixated on Lawrence’s daughter Patricia who resembles his late wife. Afterwards, he obsessively sends her presents. When Lawrence goes to tell Markoff that his attentions are unwanted, Markoff knocks him out and injects him with a dose of acromegaly that causes Lawrence to become hideously disfigured. Markoff has perfected an antidote but the price he demands for it is that Lawrence let Patricia be his.

The Monster Maker is a routine mad scientist cheapie from the 1940s. It was directed by Sam Newfield, who is listed as having made over 270 films between the 1920s and his death in 1964 under different pseudonyms, although a certain percentage of these are shorts from the silent era. Newfield had made a large number of B Westerns and a few other genre films (see below). Newfield It was produced by Sam’s brother Sigmund Neufeld, the head of poverty row production company PRC, who had chosen not to Anglicise his surname and had produced most of Newman’s 100+ Westerns.

In all regards, The Monster Maker is a routine poverty row mad scientist effort. It is dully photographed and directed. J. Carrol Naish is cast in a Bela Lugosi role – he plays with a foreign accent, lots of melodramatic menace and even has a handy killer gorilla in his lab, and is in all ways but name playing Lugosi. Presumably Lugosi wasn’t available for the part.

An acromegaly infected Ralph Morgan in The Monster Maker (1944)
An acromegaly infected Ralph Morgan

The mad scientist scheme of injecting people with acromegaly seems on the banal side, although there is a good shock revelation of a deformed face partway through. Acromegaly has been used in horror films several times since, including Tarantula (1955) and Doomwatch (1972), as well as real-life acromegaly sufferer Rondo Hatton who played a sinister heavy in a number of horror films of the era – Jungle Captive (1945), The Spider Woman Strikes Back (1946), House of Horrors (1946) and The Brute Man (1946).

Sam Newfield’s other genre films include:- the sf/Western Ghost Patrol (1936), The Invisible Killer (1939), The Mad Monster (1942), Dead Men Walk (1943), Nabonga (1944), White Pongo (1945), The Flying Serpent (1946), Radar Secret Service (1950) and Lost Continent (1951).

Full film available here

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