The Ghost of Frankenstein, was an American monster horror film released in 1942. The movie was the fourth of in a series of films produced by Universal Studios based upon characters in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein and features Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Monster, taking over from Boris Karloff, who played the role in the first three films of the series, and Bela Lugosi in his second appearance as the demented Ygor.
- It was reported that the rubber headpiece used for the Frankenstein monster make-up was very uncomfortable for Lon Chaney Jr. to wear. It sat directly on his forehead and he constantly complained. Once he asked for it to be removed. Angry and frustrated when no one listened, he ripped it off himself, tearing open a bloody gash in his forehead. Production on the film was shut down for a couple of days.
- During breaks in filming, Lon Chaney Jr. would often treat child cast members to ice cream.
- The first draft of the script was written by Eric Taylor was considered too depressing. The original Taylor treatment brought Wolf von Frankenstein back into play, as well as Ygor, plus a misshapen hunchback, Theodor. Ygor’s plan was to create a vengeful mob of society’s rejects, ala Freaks (1932), led by himself, with the Monster as brute force. A rewrite was ordered and given to veteran writer Scott Darling who retained the fundamental scenario but made significant changes.
- Boris Karloff, then acting in the hit Broadway show which became Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), had no interest in working on the film. Producer George Waggner wisely decided to retain Karloff’s make-up out of fear that the public would not accept any change in the monster’s appearance.
- Lon Chaney Jr. was cast while he was still filming The Wolf Man (1941).
- Chaney would play the Monster a number of times later: footage from this film appears as stock shots in House of Dracula (1945); he doubled Glenn Strange for three shots in Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) when Strange twisted his ankle; he played the role in a half-hour version of “Frankenstein” on TV’s “Tales of Tomorrow” (1951); and he appeared (masked) in two comedy sketches with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello on a 1952 “The Colgate Comedy Hour” (1950) show.
- Ygor and the Monster weren’t the only characters who came back from the dead. Michael Mark and Lionel Belmore, who play the two council members murdered in Son of Frankenstein (1939) are back as council members in this one, seemingly none the worse for wear.