HMM Day 8 – Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man

For day eight of Horror Movie Marathon I want to take us back to the Golden Age of horror when the Universal monsters would reign supreme. In 1931 the film Dracula was released to the silver screen. The film starred Bela Lugosi which would be his first of only two times playing the part of the legendary Count Dracula. The films style and charismatic portrayal would live on in infamy and to this day, Lugosi is considered the best to ever play the part. A few months later Universal would release Frankenstein, featuring the amazing Boris Karloff as the monster. With its amazing adaption from the source, beautiful scenery and a raw emotional, physical performance from Karloff. It would eventually be seen as one of the greatest classic picture ever made. Frankenstein was a massive success and would be the film to spawn a movement in cinema. Before there was the Marvel Cinematic Universe there was this!

Please make movies posters like this again!

Quickly Universal released other horror pictures like The Invisible Man, The Black Cat, The Raven and The Invisible Ray. All featuring our two titans Lugosi and Karloff. Eventually the first sequel of this era would come along called Bride of Frankenstein. Like its predecessor this too would gain huge notoriety and be considered one of the best sequels of all time. The movie is beautiful and heart wrenching. Karloff once again delivers an outstanding performance. Then four years later in 1939, Son Of Frankenstein was released. This would be Karloff’s last portrayal of the monster. In 1941 The Wolf Man featuring Lon Chaney Jr. would make its debut. Putting Chaney in the ranks of Karloff and Lugosi.

In 1942, Ghost of Frankenstein would be released and feature a major shift in rolls. Lon Chaney Jr. would play the part as the monster and Lugosi would come back as Ygor (although in Son of Frankenstein it is spelled Igor). But without Karloff as the monster, it just doesn’t feel the same. The film lacked the tragic story of the first three movies. It wasn’t critically successful and would also quite possibly mark the beginning of the end for this wonderful era of film.

I consider Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein to be the very first ever movie trilogy. All three films work perfectly together in one complete saga. It belongs as the leading spectacle of trilogy series like Lord of The Rings, Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Back To The Future. But it is more similar to the Indiana Jones trilogy in the sense that it has a fourth film. This would make it a “tetrology.” But the thing is the fourth film for both of these series suck. I’ve never met a fan of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I want to.

Like I said, 1941’s The Wolf Man would mark the beginning of the end for this era. But for me there is one movie I love and see as the last great golden age horror film and that would be Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man!

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man is a 1943 monster picture directed by Roy William Neill. It stars Lon Chaney Jr. as Larry Talbot/The Wolf Man, Bela Lugosi as the monster, Patrick Knowles as Dr. Frank Mannering and Ilona Massey as Baroness Elsa Frankenstein. It would unofficially be made as the sequel to 1941’s The Wolf Man and be the first ever “monster mash” film.

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

After being resurrected from his first death. Larry Talbot is in search of answers to rid himself of his werewolf infliction. His desire to be killed once and for all leads him to the daughter of Dr. Frankenstein in hopes that through her fathers scientific methods, can put an end to his miserable existence. This of course leads Talbot on a quest and in an inevitable showdown with the fame monster!

Late Night Banter

Do you remember being a kid and talking with your friends about what super hero or what monster is the strongest. For me it was with my younger brother Jonathan. We shared a room so there were numerous moments during the night where we’d be discussing potential fight scenes with whoever we could think of. For super heroes, mine was always Wolverine. My brother always picked Colossus cause he’s a douche. In the end Kirby would always come in and eat everyone.

But often times our conversations would pertain to monster fights. Each monster had their perks and their weaknesses. Dracula was smart and brutal, but he could never beat Frankenstein cause Frankenstein was ultra strong. The wolf man could be potentially stopped but would just regenerate himself and do a surprise punch through the gut when you weren’t looking. At any time we would come up with reasons why one was stronger than the other. It would also start this long debate that got louder and louder. Eventually my dad would walk in and tell us we were both idiots but then tell us Godzilla would just step on them all. Godzilla! We forgot about him.

There was no order to this chaos of conversation. But it is in this youthful banter that the love of monster mash movies have a special place. I’m quite the sucker for a good monster mash movie. King Kong vs. Godzilla, Freddy vs. Jason, Alien vs. Predator. Whatever it is, there is nothing quite better than when multiple colossal monsters come together and battle. My actual first and favorite horror movie is 1987’s The Monster Squad by Fred Dekker for this very reason. I love seeing all the monsters on the screen just being themselves and messing everyone up. In 1997 NBC aired House of Frankenstein, a two part series that was a remake of the 1944 film. Although it hasn’t aged well, there was nothing more exciting to see all of these classic monsters coming back for one epic showdown. So there, I love this shit. I even love Mad Monster Party by Rankin and Bass. So it is no surprise that Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man would have a special place in my heart. It is the first movie to bring some of my two favorite monsters together!

What makes this movie so interesting is that the actual Frank vs Wolf Man thing doesn’t really happen until the very end of the film. It is a sequel to the The Wolf Man so it makes sense that the movie is primarily about Larry Talbot trying to end his curse. I think the studio called it “Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man” because it is quite possible that another blatant sequel would haven’t garnered enough excitement. So saying “here is another movie and this time two monsters meet and battle” must have been a smart marketing move. Universal would do other monster mash films like 1944’s House of Frankenstein and 1945’s House of Dracula. They’re fine films and Boris Karloff does return but not as the monster. I didn’t like how all the monsters were constantly being played by different actors. Especially Dracula. John Carradine was fine but to me the only person that could play Dracula is Bela Lugosi! I don’t get it because Lugosi did return to the part in 1948’s Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein! You can consider this the actual end to the golden age. Sure Creature From The Black Lagoon would come and revitalize it all but that was something epically special. Back to Frank vs Wolf Man.

Apart from the monster mash style film that gets you energized for a showdown. The movie is pretty good. I love how the wolf man is dead but can be brought back by the moonlight. So this changes everything we know! A silver weapon doesn’t actually kill a werewolf. It just puts him to sleep just like Jason. Talbot ends up in a mental hospital and meets a Dr. Frank Mannering. Talbot wants to die which kind of makes this movie just one giant search for suicide. They do a good job at stating that the only time Larry can die is when he’s the wolf man and not the man. But he won’t kill himself as the wolf man… because the wolf man doesn’t want to die and Larry has no control. Dang, that shit sucks!

So Larry gets this doctor involved and he’s not Frankenstein, but his first name is Frank. Do you see what they did there? Anyways, Frank is this sincere doctor that actually wants to help and he does get involved. He even meets the monster and wants to help him as well! But then at the end there’s this “out of nowhere” shift. The Frankenstein power trip effects him and he too wants to use the monster as a means of power and bad intentions. So this is when the showdown begins. The doctor is going to end both Larry and the monster but decides to do it during a full moon. The monster brakes free and starts destroying shit and Larry turns into the wolf man and here it is! Finally! The fight starts and the all while the castle is being destroyed.

In the end, the movie may not be as great as the films that came before it. But it is enjoyable and can be appreciated. Sure it may be an attempt to squeeze ticket sales at an ending trend but it still makes for a good time. The tone and visuals are wonderful and still capture that Universal classic style. The Wolf Man is one of my favorites of the classic monsters so you get a good deal of Larry turning. That alone is worth watching in this movie. The fact that Chaney could sit in the same position while they apply layer of layer of makeup and hair is just mind blowing. Lugosi’s take on the monster is much different than Karloffs and I think it’s good. Lugosi wasn’t trying to be the Karloff monster and instead gave us something new and long standing. The imagery of Frankenstein walking like a robot with his arms extended and making no noise is pretty much how we mimic the monster today. Karloff’s depiction shows him move much more smoothly and less cumbersome. But I love this movie and will always recommend it to anyone that is crazy for monster mashups like me. That is why I have chosen to honor this film on day eight of Horror Movie Marathon 2020!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. I haven’t seen this one actually! I am hoping to knock out a few of the Universals I still haven’t seen in the next month

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nscovell says:

      It’s a good one. The thing I will say is that universal did a real good job at following the continuity of the other films.

      Like

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