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One must pity the Wolf Man. Marked not only with the pentagram, but
marked to never have a sequel that was all his own. A real shame,
considering that even the likes of the Mummy got 'four' sequels.
Universal begins their monster-mash rallies of the 1940s here, as
Wolfie must share his sandbox with the "undying monster" & the two get
along well for the most part, but eventually, even the best of friends
will have their disputes....
The film begins on a very high note, with one of the most chilling and atmospheric openings in any horror movie. The potential was certainly here for a great 'Wolf Man' sequel that could've surpassed the original. Too bad the monster has to rear his ugly, stitched up head.
Speaking of that monster, "Poor Bela" always get the blame dumped on him for why this film had to be chopped up in post-production, the story always being that the monster with his voice was simply too "Hungarian funny", yet this film was produced by the same Universal that a year earlier made "Ghost of Frankenstein" which featured the monster with Bela's voice. It didn't bother anyone then, so what was the problem now? There has to be more to the story than "it was all Lugosi's fault". Would it be considered out of the realm of possibility to speculate that perhaps the great Curt Siodmak (the screenwriter) wrote some seriously crappy dialogue for the creature to recite that would've produced titters no matter who spoke it?
Also marring the proceedings a bit is some shaky continuity in regards to the monster's portion of the story if you're familiar with the previous 'Ghost' movie. How is it, that there's suddenly a Frankenstein castle in Vasaria (or is it Vi·Saria), when in the previous film, the villagers in the town called "Frankenstein" blew it up. And there are many instances where the screenwriter doesn't seem to know the difference between Ludwig Frankenstein & his father Henry who made the monster, as Talbot, the villagers, even Baroness Frankenstein speak as if Ludwig actually created the monster.
And yet, in spite of its inconsistencies (not to mention the heavy editing done to it), the whole of 'FMTWM' still turns out very good, and the ending clash of the monsters is very entertaining. While Frankenstein fans may be disappointed, this picture definitely works as a great 'Wolf Man' sequel & one of the top Universal romps from the 1940s. After this picture, Dracula and a few other fiends would get invited to the monster party.
Though not nearly up to the standards and fun level of "Ghost Of Frankenstein", this neat little Universal gem has it's heart in the right place! Wonderful opening sequence in the graveyard, plenty of atmosphere, typically gorgeous Universal studio sets and it's famous monsters! What more can you ask for? Chaney is superb as the tormented Larry Talbot but Bela leaves quite a bit to be desired as the monster. Universal would have been better off using Glen Strange one film earlier instead of waiting for 1944's "House Of Frankenstein". All in all, a fun film that staggers a bit after a rip-roaring start!
"Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man" (1943) is, in the opinion of this reviewer, the last of the really good Universal monster features. It is definitely not in the same league as the the early James Whale and Todd Browning classics (e.g., "Frankenstein," "The Bride of Frankenstein," "Dracula," "The Invisible Man," etc.). Nor is it quite as strong as "The Son of Frankenstein." But it easily rivals "The Ghost of Frankenstein" and far surpasses the two House Of films ("House of Frankenstein" and "House of Dracula"). Lon Chaney Jr. is even better in this film than he is in the original "Wolf Man" (1941). And Lugosi is an impressive Frankenstein's monster, despite the studio's decision to cut references from the film to his blindness (a condition suffered by the monster in "The Ghost of Frankenstein") and his dialogue (again, from acquiring the brain of Ygor in "Ghost"). The film is beautifully photographed, well acted and a unique departure from previous Universal monster fests in the way it teams up two legendary creatures. It's a splendid later entry in the Universal horror cycle. After this, the universal horror films left much to be desired, at least until the magnificent "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948). I still put "Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man" in the DVD player if I'm feeling like watching what in my opinion is the studio's finest wartime horror film.
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
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).
A year after The Wolf Man became a huge success, Lon Chaney Jr played
the part of Frankenstein in the latest sequel "Ghost of Frankenstein".
He was excellent in the role, and from that you can clearly see where
the inspiration came from to combine the two strands and have these
characters meet each other. Incidentally, Chaney also played a vampire
later that year in "Son of Dracula", even though he was completely
unsuited to the part, but that makes him the only actor to play all
three of Universal's main monsters. Oh, and he also played the Mummy in
"The Mummy's Tomb".
Anyway, I digress ... here we have Curt Siodmak, writer of The Wolf Man, returning again as screenwriter. All of the ingredients are there for a great sequel. It opens in Larry Talbot's tomb, with two graverobbers breaking in and disturbing his resting place. The moonlight comes through the window and falls on Larry's corpse, waking him from his slumber as the wolf man. He then gets taken to a hospital where he is deemed insane due to his insistence that he's a werewolf, but promptly escapes in search of the gypsy woman from the original film. She takes him to Frankenstein's town in search of his scientific expertise, and there he encounters Frankenstein's monster encased in ice ... my memory is a little hazy, but wasn't he consumed in fire at the end of the last movie? Ah, well.
It should really have been called "The Wolf Man Meets Frankenstein", because Frankenstein here is only a fairly minor character in the story. Lon Chaney Jr delivers another great performance, at least as good as that in the first film if not better. Of course, he does only have to have one mood to convey here -- desperation. Bela Lugosi, much as I love him, is a terrible Frankenstein. He's the wrong size and shape, and he clearly has no respect for the role. Thank god he doesn't appear for that long. Although having said that, it does kind of make sense that he plays the monster, as the brain of his Igor character was placed in Frankenstein's head at the end of the previous movie. Not that they have much continuity other than that.
The script certainly has it's moments, and the atmosphere of the two worlds of the Wolf Man and Frankenstein blend together fairly well, but on the whole this film just doesn't have enough interesting ideas and far too many dull moments. The set pieces are decent enough, but certainly not as striking as those in the earlier Frankenstein movies. Also, there's a fair bit of decidedly wooden acting from certain cast members, but that's to be expected from most of Universal's horror films.
This sequel is entertaining enough, but it's not half as good as it could have been. It's worth watching if you liked the original.
Of all of the later Frankenstein movies made by Universal, this one
seems to be overlooked when compared to the previous "Ghost of
Frankenstein" or the campy fun of "House of Frankenstein".
Nevertheless, "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman" is probably the best of
A direct sequel to both "The Wolf Man" and "Ghost of Frankenstein", the plot follows Larry Talbot (played again by Lon Chaney Jr.), the werewolf, who realizes that he can't die. In order to find inner peace he is on a quest for death, and Maleva, the gypsy, takes him to Vasaria, in order to fin Dr. Frankenstein. When they realize that Frankenstein is dead, Talbot finds the Creature (Bela Lugosi), now with Ygor's brain but severely damaged. When a doctor teams up with Talbot in order to help him, the Wolf Man won't be happy to discover the doctor's true intentions.
This movie is carried by Chaney Jr. who is totally inside the character of the Wolf Man. It is probably Chaney's best performance as beast, and he steals every scene he is in. As Talbot, he shows the horrible trauma of being an unwilling murderer, giving the character a greater presence that fills the screen with charm.
Bela Lugosi, as the creature, has more troubles to be satisfying, but it is important to note that most of his scenes were changed as the previous subplot of Ygor's brain was abandoned. Bad choice since the first scenes with the monster show him confused and blind without giving any explanation. The poor editing is responsible of Lugosi's apparent bad performance.
The rest of the cast is surprisingly good, with old friends like Lionel Atwill and Dwight Frye in small supporting roles. Beautiful Ilona Massey plays Elsa Frankenstein who in an odd change appears as a cold smart businesswoman vastly different from the character's traits in "Ghost of Frankenstein". Nevertheless, Massey plays the role with grace and her beauty shines in the screen.
Director Roy William Neill, known for his Sherlock Holmes movies, does a superior work than predecessor Erle C. Kenton and makes the most of his actors. Depsite the plot holes of the story and the awful changes the studio made to the original script, the movie flows with a good pace.
The whole atmosphere is an improvement that while it never reaches the levels of "Bride" or "Son", works very well and give the film a distinctive look.
Overall, a worthy addition to the Frankenstein saga, that even when it certainly could have been better, it is an enjoyable underrated movie. 7/10
From the very opening scene in a graveyard to the final battle between two
of Universal's most famous monsters, 'Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man'
delivers the goods. The sets are impressive, lit in authentic film noir
style from graveyard to castle, with a cheerfully lit celebration scene in
the village square providing the only lighter moments.
Story has Chaney hunting down Frankenstein's diary to rid himself of the werewolf curse. Along the way the plot includes Maria Ouspenskaya, Lionel Atwill, Ilona Massey and Patric Knowles, all of whom contribute workmanlike performances. This time the creature found in the frozen ice is played by Bela Lugosi--and while certainly not up to Karloff's interpretation, despite previous comments from other viewers, he does all right in the role. It doesn't matter that much anyhow because the most important character in this film is Lon Chaney as The Wolfman and it is about him that the plot really revolves.
Chaney is at his best portraying the pathetic Wolfman character within the confines of a well-written script and surrounded with an excellent cast. He creates sympathy for his Lawrence Talbot character the moment he enlists the aid of Patric Knowles to find Dr. Frankenstein's diary.
In my article on LON CHANEY soon to be published in Classic Images, I quote Variety as saying that the film does "a good job of fantastic writing to weave the necessary thriller ingredients into the piece and finally brings the two legendary characters together for a battle climax."
The picture was such a hit that Chaney hoped the studio would use him their upcoming technicolor version of "The Phantom of the Opera" but such was not to be and Claude Rains got that plum role.
The wolfman's desperation at again finding himself the terror of the full moon (after four years of peaceful sleep) prompts him to seek help from Dr Frankenstein thus giving us the vision of the two screen monsters together at last. In fact they seem the best of friends, the wolfman gently protecting the forlorn monster from public attack - yes, the village mob is at it again ! However, the young doctor soon puts an end to all that by recharging the monster's energy so we have a ring-side seat at the heavyweight fight. The various roars and expressions of the two are excellent as the stiff armed monster (the sweetly smiling Bela Lugosi) and agile wolf man (the great Lon Chaney with more imaginative hairiness in comparison to his first wolfish screen appearance) growl for territory. Great stuff from beginning to the sudden somewhat abrupt end - did they run out of ideas or money I wonder !
In Llanwelly village, two grave robbers break in the crypt of Lawrence
"Larry" Stewart Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) to steal his possessions. When
they open the casket, they find the body covered with wolfbane and they
are attacked by a creature. Soon Talbot awakes in Cardiff at the
Queen's Hospital recovering from a surgery performed by Dr. Mannering
(Patric Knowles) and Inspector Owen (Dennis Hoey) is ready to
interrogate him about recent murders.
Talbot flees from the hospital and seeks out the gypsy Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya), who knows that he is a werewolf, asking her to help him. Talbot wants to die and they travel to find Dr. Frankenstein. Talbot transforms into the werewolf and falls into the frozen catacombs of Dr. Frankenstein's castle. He finds the Monster (Bela Lugosi) frozen and he breaks the ice and release it. Soon Talbot discovers that Dr. Frankenstein is dead and he seeks out the daughter of Dr. Frankenstein, Baroness Elsa Frankenstein (Ilona Massey), expecting to borrow his journal that contains the secret of life and death. Meanwhile Dr. Mannering arrives in the village following the blood track left by the werewolf. When Elsa lends the diary of her father, Dr. Mannering prepares the equipment to drain power from Talbot to the Monster. But he becomes insane with the power on his hands and the experiment goes wrong.
"Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man" is a movie by Universal with a creepy beginning in the environment of the cemetery and a sensational transformation of Talbot into the werewolf in slow motion. The development of the plot is dramatic and funny, with the encounter of the Wolf Man with the Monster and Talbot wishing to die. Unfortunately the lame conclusion is terrible. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Frankenstein Encontra o Lobisomem" ("Frankenstein Meets the Werewolf")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The original versus movie that inspired the likes of Freddy vs. Jason. This movie pits two of horror's most feared creatures, the Frankenstein monster and the Wolf Man, into battle. A true classic that should be viewed by classic horror fans, especially fans of the Universal Monsters Classic Collection. Lon Chaney (Lawrence Talbot) and Bela Lugosi (Frankenstein Monster) portray the title characters very well in this classic horror piece. This is the first of the Universal series to pit two or more horror monsters against each other. Fans of this piece will also enjoy House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and comedy classic Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein. A true horror classic to start your path down the road watching horror movies, see it and you will not be sorry.
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