In this third Gill-Man feature, the Creature is captured and turned into an air-breather by a rich mad scientist. This makes the Creature very unhappy, and he escapes, killing people and ... See full summary »
Larry Talbot finds himself in an asylum, recovering from an operation performed by the kindly Dr. Mannering. Inspector Owen finds him there, too, wanting to question him about a recent spate of murders. Talbot escapes and finds Maleva, the old gypsy woman who knows his secret: when the moon is full, he changes to a werewolf. She travels with him to locate the one man who can help him to die - Dr. Frankenstein. The brilliant doctor proves to be dead himself, but they do find Frankenstein's daughter. Talbot begs her for her father's papers containing the secrets of life and death. She doesn't have them, so he goes to the ruins of the Frankenstein castle to find them himself. There he finds the Monster, whom he chips out of a block of ice. Dr. Mannering catches up with him only to become tempted to monomania while using Frankenstein's old equipment. Written by
Poor Bela Lugosi. After achieving big-screen stardom in 1931's "Dracula," he turned down the role of the Monster in "Frankenstein," calling the inaudible creature a part for an "idiot" or a "tall extra" (according to William Gregory Manks' fine book on the Frankenstein series, "It's Alive"). As a result, a bit player named Boris Karloff accepted the part and became the cinema's number one boogieman, far eclipsing the proud Hungarian actor who would soon be reduced to supporting roles, often second-billed to the lisping Englishman he is often said to have envied and despised. For Lugosi, "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman" may have been more traumatic and embarrassing than the Ed Wood films he would soon be reduced to appearing in, because here the rarely employed actor was cast in the very role he so proudly declined, the role that helped put his more successful rival on the map.
As the Monster, Lugosi is pretty terrible but his ineffective performance was made worse in the editing room where his dialogue was cut out after it was decided that the Monster should not have an Hungarian accent. Yet Lugosi's lips move and he flails his arms about as if he were speaking. It's a rather sad footnote to what is an enjoyable horror yarn, albeit one that was perhaps the first step in turning Universal's classic horror characters into a joke, ones that would soon have no choice but to meet Abbott and Costello. What really makes this one memorable is the atmosphere provided by the great and unheralded Roy William Neill, then taking a break from the studio's Sherlock Holmes series. This film has a wonderful look that helps make it the best of the later Frankenstein films produced by the studio (although everything after 1939's "Son of Frankenstein" represented a steady and steep decline for the series).
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