TERRY SHERWOOD looks back on Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man 1943
Title: Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
Year Released: 1943
Director: Roy William Neill
Cast: Lon Chaney Jr, Ilona Massey, Patric Knowles, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi and Maria Ouspenskaya.
When you are in trouble, you will often seek a friend out – as in Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.
The Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.) wants to rid himself of his curse of eternal life after being accidentally awakened by two grave robbers.
He awakens in a hospital in Cardiff after a killing rampage where he finds he is under the care of Doctor Mannering (Patric Knowles) and being questioned by Inspector Owen (Dennis Hoey).
Talbot escapes only to find the Frankenstein monster frozen in a weakened state.
Together, they search for Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya), whom Talbot believes can understand and help them both.
Sadly, this is not the case; but she does say Doctor Frankenstein can cure him.
There they learn that Doctor Frankenstein is dead, his castle in ruins. But his daughter the Baroness (Ilona Massey) is in the village.
Talbot tries to convince her to give him the records of her late father’s experiments but she refuses.
They attend the Festival of the New Wine at the invitation of the Mayor (Lionel Atwill) where the rollicking song of “Eternal Life,” sung by the townspeople in celebration pushes Talbot into a rage.
Talbot and the Baroness also meet Doctor Mannering who has been tailing Talbot’s journey.
The Frankenstein monster enters the village, letting everyone escape to the castle where the Baroness finds the secret hiding place of the book of her father’s experiments.
Doctor Mannering agrees to help but in the process wants to see the monster at full power while draining off Talbot’s life energy to give him final death.
The whole project is ruined with a flood of water from an exploded dam interrupting a fight between the two monsters while the others have the sense to escape.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (some say refers to Talbot meeting the Baroness) is a wonderful film filled with great sets, photography, light and shadow, character and direction.
Lon Chaney, Jr. gives perhaps his best performance, infusing it with frustration, guile, brute strength and humanity.
The weakness is Bela Lugosi as the monster whose performance as a stumbling, bumbling arms forward creature, has, unfortunately, become some people’s concept of the Monster.
This would have been a brilliant film for the Universal Monster cycle if the monster had been more like Boris Karloff.
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