“What effect did the experience of death have on his subconscious mind?”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Given the enormous popularity of Frankenstein (and Universal Studios’ eagerness to bank upon its successes), these thematic connections are not all that surprising — nor, sadly, is the fact that The Walking Dead pales in comparison.
The film’s primary problem lies in its underdeveloped narrative and characters. There’s a weak attempt at a romantic subplot between Gwenn’s over-worked assistants (played by Marguerite Churchill and Warren Hull), but this goes absolutely nowhere:
… and speaking of Gwenn, his “mad doctor” is frustratingly opaque.
It’s difficult to think of Gwenn as anything other than a jolly do-gooder, yet here he blithely fools around with a man’s existence to fulfill his own curiosities about death — all the same, we’re left unsatisfied in terms of knowing how exactly we’re meant to react to him and his motivations. Karloff, however, is fine from beginning to end — as with his Monster, he injects his troubled protagonist here with extraordinary pathos throughout.
Meanwhile, director Michael Curtiz and DP Hal Mohr do a fine job playing up the atmospheric nature of the screenplay, which cleverly incorporates gangster elements into its storyline; Ricardo Cortez as the lead gangster responsible for boldly sending Karloff to the electric chair is particularly well cast.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: