The Wolfman (1941)

Part Wolf, Part Man - Wolfman - from A Merry Monster Christmas - 1964

I love the old Universal horror movies!  Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera, The Wolf Man, all of 'em!  I remember being scared out of my gourd watching these movies on a Saturday night, and sometimes even in broad daylight on a Saturday morning!  

When Larry Talbot morphed into the Wolfman in what would now be considered middle-school super-8 style special effects, I was scared to death!  And all that fog!  I mean I've spent time in the woods all over the country and in Europe (I'm an old soldier) and I don't think I ever saw such frequent and persistent fog!  But when you're a kid, who knew what was hidden in there!

The who's who of classic horror

Can you imagine a cast like this?:  Lon Chaney, Claude Rains, Bela Lugosi, Ray Milland, and Evelyn Ankers?  Talk about the who's who of horror?  I agree with most reviews that, by today's standards this was a little campy.  However, it's a fun movie if you can suspend disbelief and not take yourself too seriously for a little while!

A wholly original film

K Wadsworth over at Movie Crash Course, perhaps tainted by some of the campy werewolf movies like Wolfman Meets Frankenstein, seems a little put off by this movie. However, she makes a couple good points: "Unlike Dracula and Frankenstein, too, it seems to be a wholly original film; there was no 19th Century Gothic Horror novel upon which this was based. In fact, a lot of the common conceptions we have about werewolves were invented for this film – the fact that werewolves can only be killed with silver, or that being bitten by a werewolf turns you into one yourself...felt so cheesy is because those are precisely the elements that got picked up in the film’s later sequels, like The Wolf Man Meets Frankenstein and other B-movie drive-in fare. That’s one of the big disadvantages I have in watching this today, I think; I am more familiar with all of those cornball films than I was with this original, and am familiar with them as cornball films, things that get shown on late night public access cable and introduced by someone named “Mistress Fangora” or something. The later films all copied the same kind of murky fog and spooky music, but with lesser-quality acting and performances, so even though the quality of the script is a bit better here, my head still goes to “this is hokey”.

Dubious entertainment?

In a contemporary review, in the December 31, 1940 edition of Variety, a staff writer had this to say: The English legendary werewolf provides basis for another cinematic adventure into the horrific chiller-diller realm. The Wolf Man is a compactly-knit tale of its kind, with good direction and performances by an above par assemblage of players, but dubious entertainment.

Jenny Williams: Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.


WATCH IT AGAIN: Definitely!

DO I WANT TO OWN IT?:  I think I would like to - Yes! 

Thanks for stopping by - see ya at the movies!

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