Friday, October 23, 2015

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)

With the Universal monsters fully established, these kinds of projects were sort of like a monster Avengers for monster kids.  But this one puts minimal effort into fulfilling the title's exciting promise.

Two grave robbers disinter Lawrence Talbot and get mutilated for it.  Lon Chaney Jr. is, of course, splendid as the wolf man, doomed to live when he just wants to die.  

We get some crowd-pleasing callbacks as Talbot heads out in search of suicide.  Maria Ouspenskaya returns as the gypsy Maleva.  She accompanies Talbot in search of a doctor who might be able to help him.

DR. FRANKENSTEIN, THAT IS.  But it turns out that Victor is deceased, so the goddamn title is a fucking lie after all.  But at least Talbot unearths Frankenstein's monster, who is played by Bela Lugosi!  Finally!  But don't get too excited.  Lugosi's performance here seems really off.  After checking with the Internet, it seems that the monster was originally supposed to be a blind Igor, which would explain Lugosi's constant squinting and weird lack of energy.  The monster rampage in this film consists of a table being knocked over and a barrel of wine being tossed out of a cart.  So satisfying.

Plus the film gives us minimal Talbot-monster scenes and no monster-wolf man until two minutes from the end.  BUT we somehow have time to listen to a whole folk song about wine.

If you're a fan of Universal's monster crew, you're likely to like this and it is professionally executed, but it doesn't soar and the shifts in the script really take a lot out of the movie's sails.


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