I recently watched SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, the third and final film to feature Boris Karloff as the Monster, for the first time in years, and I was pleased to discover that it holds up really well. Although it's generally regarded as the least of the opening trilogy in the series, it's actually my favorite of the Frankenstein movies for several reasons, most of them involving the cast.
Karloff is bigger and bulkier than ever as the Monster, and he's great as usual. But Basil Rathbone gives a fine performance as Wolf von Frankenstein, Victor's son, who winds up reviving the Monster even though he knows he shouldn't. My favorite actor here, though, is Bela Lugosi, who is almost unrecognizable as Igor and turns in one of his least hammy performances. He summons up some serious creepiness in this movie, especially when he peers through windows or hidden openings in the walls, as he often does.
The script is good, too, with some nice touches of humor. At one point Rathbone, as Wolf von Frankenstein, complains that people think the Monster's name is Frankenstein. (I did when I was a kid, and you probably did, too.) I always enjoy seeing those stark Castle Frankenstein sets, and the photography is nice throughout. Rowland V. Lee, the director, wasn't as much of a stylist as James Whale, who helmed the first two films, but he keeps things moving along briskly and the action-packed ending is both exciting and poignant. Overall, I find SON OF FRANKENSTEIN to be a huge amount of fun.
Those Universal horror movies scared the hell out of me when I was a kid, but at the same time I loved them. Every time I watch one of them these days, I still get a big kick out of it. That's the mark of a good movie. (Although I have to admit, while I was watching this one a part of me kept waiting for Frau Blucher to show up. And when the characters first arrived at the castle, I couldn't help but think, "What knockers!"...)