Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, June 27, 2008

FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN


FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943). Director: Roy William Neill.

Although we never learn why, two grave robbers try to remove Larry Talbot's body from its resting place in the Talbot family crypt, bringing The Wolf Man back to life. Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) gets it into his head that Dr. Frankenstein might be able to help him, and he seems to be referring to Henry, but most of the story takes place in Vasaria and the dead Frankenstein's daughter Elsa (now played by Ilona Massey) makes a reference to her "father and grandfather" -- presumably she's the grand-daughter of Henry -- and there is also a reference to the sanitarium that burned down at the end of The Ghost of Frankenstein. However, Vasaria now has a Frankenstein castle as well. (Presumably the producers figured nobody would clearly remember everything, this being long before the days of VCRs, DVDs, and instant replay). As Ygor's brain was transferred into the monster's body at the end of Ghost, it's only fitting that Bela Lugosi, who played Ygor, would now play the monster. His approach is to make the creature sneering, and even a bit haughty (supposedly his dialogue was cut, even though he spoke through the monster's mouth in Ghost). Maria Ouspenkaya reprises her role as Maleva from The Wolf Man. Patric Knowles is stalwart as the doctor who wants to help Talbot but seems more intrigued by the monster. Ilona Massey looks as if she wandered into the wrong movie. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man is highly contrived and illogical, although it moves fast and is pretty entertaining. Still it's a cut below the previous entries in the series. The climax features a not-so-epic battle between the title monsters. Lionel Atwill is the Mayor and Dwight Frye again plays a distinctive villager. Followed by House of Frankenstein.

Verdict: Still fun. **1/2.

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