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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)

When Universal Studios made the sequel to The Wolf Man (1941) they couldn't resist the temptation to introduce another monster.  However, two is not necessarily better than one.  Lon Chaney Jr reprises his role as The Wolf Man and delivers another solid performance as the tortured soul Larry Talbot.  Bela Lugosi leaves his cape and fangs behind to play the Monster.  [Really?  Really.]  His performance, sad to say, is stiff and emotionless.  It makes the viewer long for the far superior portrayal of the Monster by Boris Karloff in the original Frankenstein (1931).    Furthermore, if Lugosi looks a little different from scene to scene it's because two stuntmen filled in for him in more scenes than he would care to admit.  
Other cast members include the "gypsy witch" Maleva who has a much larger role in this film than the original.  Maria Ouspenskaya does a very nice job with this character.  New addition Ilona Massey is Elsa, the daughter of Dr. Frankenstein.  She has a commanding presence on screen and her "say something" hat is a wonder to behold.
Curt Siodmak, who wrote the original Wolf Man, did the sequel as well.  This time out, however, the script is not nearly as good as the original.  Case in point, somewhere in the middle of the film it momentarily becomes a musical, providing a WTF moment.  It is unintentionally funny and completely out of place.  The pitchforks and torches from the original Frankenstein (1931) are also gone [Awwww!] and are replaced with dynamite.  I guess there are new and improved ways of killing monsters, after all!  As a side note, Jack Pierce who did the make up for Frankenstein (1931) and the Wolf Man (1941) lends his considerable talents to this film as well.
All in all, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man is a well made film.  However, the originals are definitely better.  That being said, this film is definitely worth watching if solely for Lon Chaney Jr's heartfelt performance.  I don't believe the movie is available to view legally online.  However, you can rent it through Netflix.  [Choose the digitally restored Universal Legal Collection version.]
RATING: Very Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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