Monday, October 4, 2010

The Wolf Man (1941)

Director: George Waggner

Starring: Lon Chaney Jr, Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy, Bela Lugosi

More info: IMDb

Tagline: "His hideous howl a dirge of death!"

Plot: A practical man returns to his homeland, is attacked by a creature of folklore, and infected with a horrific disease his disciplined mind tells him can not possibly exist.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

#2 of 31 Days of Horror 2010.

The Universal horror films of the 30s and 40s are a mixed bag. For me, the Frankenstein films fared better as a series than did Dracula or the Wolf Man but I still enjoy watching them...mostly. I've never really taken to Lon Chaney Jr. He's a capable actor but not that good, especially in his later, boozing years. In THE WOLF MAN you can almost sense the future liquor on his breath. He does a decent job of being troubled but his character is too much of a blowhard to take all that seriously. I guess an argument can be made that by making him so over the top and imposing that his sad state at the end is that much more effective.


I really enjoyed Lugosi in his all too brief role as the gypsy werewolf. He was doing some real acting instead of his extended Dracula persona. I liked it a lot. It's a nice change of pace for him. Besides, that big ass mustache is groovy. I need one. Claude Rains seemed to be walking through his role which isn't much of a stretch as he did that quite often. He does bring a needed presence to the picture.

For a change, I don't vant to suck your blood!

The two giant Americans bookending the lone Brit. Are they trying to tell us something?

The monster effects were great for the time and are still pretty cool. One thing though, why does the werewolf choke his victims most of the time? I did notice this time out that he would sometimes go to choke them and then bite their necks but it seems to me like, oh, I don't know...he's a fucking animal and animals don't choke their victims. It's not like it took me out of the picture or anything but it was a curiosity. Hack & slash. That's how it should be done.

While not the great classic I remember from my youth, it is a fun movie with some memorable bits, and at 70 minutes it's not much of a commitment. I'm going to try to burn through the rest of the films in the Legacy collection this month with FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943), SHE-WOLF OF LONDON (1946) and WEREWOLF OF LONDON (1935), something I've been wanting to do for years. Next up...the 2010 remake, THE WOLFMAN!

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