Review: Believe it or not, last night as I watching Universal films The Woflman and their was a full moon outside! I guess that was a sign that this was the perfect night to watch this movie.
I've seen other Universal monster films like Dracula and Frankenstein and though I appreciate their historical significance, wasn't necessarily impressed with them. Yeah I love the atmosphere, and I love the black and white photography but most of the time I've found these films to be very, very dated. Still, I can appreciate what they have done for horror and therefore enjoy them for their significance in horror history. That being said I find The Wolfman to be the most entertaining of the bunch.
Its the basic werewolf story we've seen time and time again. Normal guy gets bit by a werewolf, he starts experiencing the changes, he becomes a monster. If you've seen other werewolf movies, then you are one step ahead in knowing everything thats going to happen on this film.
But even though the story was nothing new (not for us in our moder times anyway) it did draw me in with its atmosphere and interesting characters. Basically the story is about a middle aged dude called Larry Talbot who returns to his hometown after having been away for many years. He takes a liking for this girl who works in an antique shop, and while they go out for a walk in the night, he is attacked and bitten by a werewolf. Lon Chaneys performance is very good on this film, he is a tortured man, and through no fault of his own is turned into a killing murdering monster. His portrayal was convincing and likable.
Amongst the coolest characters in the film were the gypsies. Bela Lugosi makes a small appearance as a gypsie called....Bela. Hes a fortune teller in it and then there's his mother called Maleva (cool name huh?) who sort of like tries and helps Larry Talbot through his little dilemma.
As far as the creature goes, well it ain't much because all we really get is a really hairy guy with an overbite. Though I did like how they went through the trouble of trying to make the monster legs look wolf like by having the bended towards the ankle. But other then that the monster is just a hairy dude with claws and wolfs feet. He doesn't fully transform into a wolf, just a half wolf half man. That's one thing I never did get about this film. Whats so scary about a really hairy guy? Its not like the werewolf's in American Werewolf in London or The Howling were they were these huge murderous monsters. Also it is never really clear what the werewolf wants. Is he out to feed? Apparently not since all he does is rip his victims throats. So why does he kill? Just for the sheer joy of it? Its never really explained in the film, and that did bother me a bit. The motivation of the monster.
If there ever was a film with heavy fog, its this one! The fog machines were on full power during this production, also there's a lot of spooky scenes that take place in the woods with lots of dried up trees, the woods in this film are an intimidating and scary place for sure, so I guess you could say to use a tired phrase, that this film is "loaded with atmosphere." In conclusion, Id say that this was an enjoyable film, with good characters, good performances and high value as far as horror film history goes. Without The Wolfman there wouldn't be an American Werewolf in London or a The Howling so I salute this film for being a pioneer in the realms of Licanthropian melodramas. Any self respecting horror fan should check out these films by Universal for their significance in the halls of Horror history.
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