Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Originally slated as a Boris Karloff-Bela Lugosi vehicle, Man Made Monster emerged on screen as a tour de force for Lon Chaney Jr. (in his first horror-film starring role) and Lionel Atwill. Chaney plays Dynamo Dan the Electric Man, a sideshow performer whose talent for absorbing mass quantities of electricity enables him to emerge virtually unscathed when a bus crashes into a pylon. Dan recuperates in the home of Dr. Rigas (Lionel Atwill), a demented scientist ("Mad? Of course I'm mad!") who hopes to create a race of electric-powered supermen. Using Dan as his unwitting guinea pig, Rigas zaps the poor man's energy even as he injects more and more electricity into his system. Suspecting something is amiss when rabbits and goldfish die suddenly at his touch, Dan nonetheless continues to submit to Rigas' treatment. When the doctor's colleague Lawrence (Samuel S. Hinds) figures out what's going on, he confronts Rigas with a "You're mad! I'm going to notify the police!"-whereupon Rigas picks up his cue by ordering the now-zombiefied Dan to kill Lawrence and confess to the murder. The unfortunate fellow is convicted and sentenced to the electric chair, much to the delight of Rigas, who can now put his theories to the ultimate test. Surviving the death-house jolt, Dan absorbs the entire electrical current and becomes a walking, glowing human power plant, killing the warden and the guards and escaping into the countryside. Slowly dying, Dan finally regains a shred of his humanity by rescuing heroine June Lawrence (Anne Nagel) from the clutches of Regas, then puts a permanent end to the mad doctor's evil designs before spectacularly expiring himself. A prime example of Universal's B-picture unit at its peak, Man Made Monster is among the finest of the studio's second-echelon horror product. The film was re-released in the late 1940s under the timely cognomen The Atomic Monster.
performer, accident, carnival, death, electrical, electric-chair, experiment, killing, laboratory, monster, mutant, prison, rage, sideshow, transformation, warden, zombie