The Wolf Man (1941)
Directed by: George Waggner. Written by: Curt Siodmak.
Plot: A wealthy young man (Lon Chaney Jr.) returns home to Wales and is attacked by a werewolf (Bela Lugosi). He becomes a werewolf himself and tries, with middling success, to control his new cravings for blood and not kill his girlfriend (Evelyn Ankers). It can be hard sometimes.
Review: There were a couple other contenders for this spot (I limited the number of werewolf films to two, coz, you know, werewolves are annoying), such as The Werewolf of London, Werewolf vs. the Vampire Women and Curse of the Werewolf but I gave it to this movie seeing as it’s really the iconic werewolf movie and doesn‘t even have the word ‘werewolf’ in the title. When I think of werewolf movies, the first thing which comes to my mind is Lon Chaney Jr. running around in the woods looking like a total dork.
Like the previous films reviewed on this list (and many more to come), this movie kind of sucks on some levels. Lon Chaney Jr. is just so bad. It’s painful, and hard to believe that he was actually spawned by Lon Chaney Sr. Yes, he does have a certain charisma, but he whines. I actually look forward to him dying at the end. Honestly.
Lon’s terrible acting aside, the movie is pretty good, and probably deserves a higher placement on my list rather than being down here with the crud (unfortunately, I need that room for films such as Slither and The Eye 2).
It’s very atmospheric, spending a great deal of time out on the moors or whatever it is they have in Wales (I’m pretty sure this movie is set in Wales…), fairly well acted apart from Junior there (the wolf man’s dad is played by Claude Rains!), and does a decent job keeping the corniness from getting totally overwhelming. They do a somewhat modern take on the werewolf legend, treating lycanthropy as a psychological malady rather than a supernatural one (although, in the sequels the wolf man, like, comes back from the dead and shit. Try to explain that, eggheads).
One of the better Universal Monster movies, I guess, though I, being a chick, am inclined to prefer, like, Dracula. Werewolves are okay but... they're so hairy. And again, there's the Lon Chaney Jr. thing. I know, Lugosi isn't always great, but at least he's hot.
Favourite Part: The transformation scenes - I enjoy looking at the special FX of yesteryear and comparing them to the CGI of today. The man-to-wolf FX in this movie, could be called ‘primitive’, though I prefer to call them ‘high-concept’. You can see what they were thinking about, they just didn’t have the technology to execute it. And ya know, I can't say this enough, but I think it still looks better than CGI. At least it's something that's actually there. It occupies a physical space and the actors can interact with it (I'm getting confused as to what 'it' refers to...).
Other versions: Remake scheduled for November. I am actually looking forward to this. It might be cool. Probably won't be, but it might.
Sequels: Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (crappy), House of Frankenstein (awesome), House of Dracula (crappy) and Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein (crappy).
Click here to read my original review (December 14th, 2006)
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