The third entry into the 'Frankenstein' franchise continues the tale with Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone), the son of Henry Frankenstein; creator of the Monster and co-creator of the Bride. Since the events of 'Bride of Frankenstein', the family castle has been abandoned. But Wolf, his wife, Elsa (Josephine Hutchinson), and their fearless young son, Peter (Donnie Dunagen) relocate to the castle, as Wolf wants to restore the Frankenstein name.
Such an attempt is rather futile, however, when we learn how the villagers see any Frankenstein as someone not to be trusted. After all, Wolf's own father was the one who created the monster who wreaked havoc on the town, twice before. The local police inspector, Krogh (Lionel Atwill) becomes Wolf's only friend in all of this, ironically after he claims the monster ripped his arm off, and it was replaced with a false one - parodied in 'Young Frankenstein' by Inspector Kemp.
While exploring the castle, Wolf meets the Ygor (Bela Lugosi)... okay, so a brief history, this is the first association with the name Ygor to Frankenstein. Technically speaking, the hunchbacked assistant from the first film is named "Fritz", but as far as I can tell, it's supposed to be the same guy. 'Bride' had no lab assistant of that kind. Anyway, here, he's not a hunchback, but someone whos neck broke during a hanging, and he's permanently messed up because of it, plus legally declared dead. There's a court room scene involving this matter, and I couldn't help but laugh at it, but I really don't think I was supposed to.
Anyway, Ygor (some might wanna spell it "Igor", but this is how its credited) leads Wolf down into crypt where both his grandfather and father were buried - his father's reading "Heinrich von Frankenstein: Maker of Monsters". Alongside these tombs are the monster, laying on a slab, alive and well but comatose. Wolf sees his opportunity to prove that his father wasn't a madman, and may have been on to something. The results, however, have the monster obeying commands from Ygor, and we get more of Mr. friendly monster misunderstanding what life is, and why he exists. This time around he's back to the classic grunts and growls as opposed to having learned English somehow.
Sadly, this would be Boris Karloff's final appearance as The Monster, but it's a pretty solid sendoff to such a creature. It brings together Karloff and Lugosi together in a great way, both playing rather iconic characters (although it took Ygor some time to develop into a real thing). Of the three films, I consider this one probably to be the most fun. While the original and 'Bride' are the more memorable classics, this one starts to have a bit more fun with things, and it's kinda sad that it's more under the radar. When you think to name any two 'Frankenstein' titles, your mind will most likely jump to those first two.
On a final note, I just wanna clarify something about the Monster, himself. During the opening, while the family is headed to the castle, we hear Wolf speaking to his wife about his father's good name, and the fact that some of the villagers have taken to naming the monster "Frankenstein". It's not 100% on the nose, but it's absolutely implied. So based on this technicality, you will never again hear me correct anyone like a smartass about the Monster's name. Anyway, the movie is fun, and it'd be worth a marathon of the three main films as you approach Halloween. They are all something the family can watch, deemed classics in the eyes of movie-lovers, and its a monster kids can maybe relate too a bit more than other, scarier monsters of the Universal collection.