Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Horror Countdown 2017: Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) dir. Roy William Neil, Universal Pictures

Now here is a genuine first. The very first monster crossover. Before Godzilla threw down with King Kong, before the Aliens ran around with the Predators, we had Frankenstein meeting the Wolf Man.

If you recall the ending of their previous films, the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney) was beaten to death with a silver tipped cane wielded by his father, while the monster (Bela Lugosi) had the brain of Ygor put in his skull, went blind, and was then trapped in the burning remains of Dr. Frankenstein's lab. How do they come back?

In the English countryside, two robbers are breaking into the Talbot family crypt. Seems that the late Lawrence 'Larry' Talbot (Chaney) might have been buried with a few valuables, so not help themselves?

It took them long enough though, but what they find inside the coffin is just Larry Talbot, looking remarkably whole considering he's been dead for four years, plus a large amount of dried wolfbane. Annoyed, the would be thieves start looking around when light from the full moon shines down on Larry's still form...who seems a bit more animated than he was a few minutes ago. 

He's picked up the next night a few miles away and taken to the hospital. Dr. Mannering (Patrick Knowles) tries to take care of him, but the man's insistence that he must be killed is puzzling. Inspector Owen (Dennis Holey) is bit more blunt; he thinks the stranger, who insists that his name is Larry Talbot, is utterly mad. His findings are confirmed when he makes a few calls and finds that Larry Talbot died four years ago. So, he figures, the man in the hospital bed is either a fraud or a looney. 

When Larry transforms and kills a policeman, Owens figures he's also a murderer too. The whole thing is too much for Talbot, who flees to Europe is hopes of a cure. He manages to track down Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya), the mother of the late werewolf Bela, for her advice. She has nothing, but she does suggest finding a certain Dr. Frankenstein of Visaria. He might be able to help.

Not really, as if you recall he died in the burning of his lab. Larry is even more despondent, but he does find the Monster (Lugosi) buried in an ice block under the building's remains. He frees the monster, but it's hopeless. Talbot tracks down the late doctor's daughter Elsa (Ilona Massey) and tries to woo her into giving up her father's notes. That might have succeeded, except for the Monster crashing the local wine festival and Dr. Mannering's arrival.

From there things build to a climax as both monsters are set loose in the lab. Can anything stop them?

And here is where the wheels start to fall off. You can't accuse the title of lying, Frankenstein does meet the Wolf Man, but that's about it. Lugosi as the Monster is a bit sad. Watching it, you might wonder why the creature lumbers around with his arms outstretched and needing Talbot to guide him. If you recall the last movie, the Monster went blind, but for some reason they decided to cut out any references to that here, plus removing the monster's dialogue (but not the scenes where his lips are moving). 

Overall, the beginning of the end for the Universal Frankenstein series and the start of the monster mash series. 

No comments:

Post a Comment