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The Mad Monster (May 15, 1942)

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The Mad Monster with George Zucco

Released on May 15, 1942: A mad scientist develops a serum from a wild wolf that will change his assistant into a blood-thirsty werewolf who goes on a killing spree.

Directed by Sam Newfield

The Actors: Johnny Downs (Tom Gregory), George Zucco (Doctor Lorenzo Cameron), Anne Nagel (Lenora Cameron), Glenn Strange (Petro), Sarah Padden (grandmother), Gordon De Main (Professor Fitzgerald), Mae Busch (Susan), Reginald Barlow (Professor Warwick), Robert Strange (Professor Blaine), Henry Hall (country Doctor), Ed Cassidy (father), Eddie Holden (Jed Harper), John Elliott (Professor Hatfield), Slim Whitaker (Officer Dugan), Gil Patric (Detective Lieutenant).

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When I was a little kid, my older sister Irene would gather my sister Carol and myself, along with a big bowl of popcorn and sit on the front porch floor, with our backs against the house, looking out over 304 South Main Street in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and as the night was overtaking the day, tell us a scary story. She had two that she told often, probably at my request. One was about little Jimmy and Carol who went exploring in the basement one day, and stumbled upon a secret door that led to a dark underground tunnel, winding up in the underground home of a big bad ogre! The other was about little Carol and Jimmy when they went exploring in the big, dark attic. I forget most of the details of the stories, but remember my awe and excitement at the danger that the little kids faced successfully.

Sometime when the moon is full, and the night is dark, pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn and drizzle on a lot of melted butter, and cuddle next to someone you REALLY trust, because this movie takes us to the edge of 1942 science, where a simple minded innocent man can become a raging wolf, and go on an uncontrolled killing spree. It is 1942, and the world is at war, and even mad scientists want to help.

Our movie opens with the actor that was type-cast as the mad-scientist in many movies, George Zucco. In this thriller he is Dr. Lorenzo Cameron, banished from his university post because of his wild ideas. One night he calls on his old professor friends and tells them that he has developed a serum from the blood of a wild wolf that can turn a strong man into a wild wolf-man, or werewolf. He suggests that we could transform a million strong Americans into wild werewolves that could attack the enemy with abandon and no thought for life nor limb. His old scientist friends declare that he is a mad man and should be confined to a sanitarium. But our mad-scientist of course cannot be put off, and he injects his serum into his dull-witted assistant Petro. The serum works, and Petro turns into a first class werewolf. He then injects the antidote into Petro, and he returns to normal. But after a few of the injections and antidotes, Petro starts turning into his werewolf creature and goes on killing sprees at night. The doctor's daughter has a newspaperman boyfriend, and it is him that investigates and brings us to the exciting horror movie ending.

Clutch tightly to the person next to you, and beware that the person does not start howling . . .