The Wolf Man

1941, Movie, NR, 71 mins

Review

WOLF MAN, THE
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A feast of horror, for animals of all kinds. Bearing no resemblance to Universal's 1935 film THE WEREWOLF OF LONDON, THE WOLF MAN was given a whole new look and treatment by the studio. Lon Chaney Jr., stars as Larry Talbot, a young British heir who returns to the mansion of his father (Claude Rains) after getting a college education in America. Learning about the legend of the werewolf from antique store employee Gwen (Evelyn Ankers), gypsy fortune teller Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya), and Maleva's son, Bela (Bela Lugosi), Larry laughs it off as superstition. When the young man hears a bone-chilling wolf's howl and a blood-curdling scream emanating from the foggy moors, however, he rushes to the source of the hideous noises and is attacked and bitten by a vicious, hairy beast. Later, Maleva tells Larry that he will transform into a savage, murderous wolf when the moon is full and that he can only be killed by silver--be it a silver bullet, knife, or cane. Larry tries to deny her superstitious forecast, but when the next full moon arises, his nose becomes a wet snout, his hands and feet turn to paws, and his body is covered with thick fur. An animal trapped in a bedroom, the wolf man crashes through the window and runs off into the night in search of his prey.

Fearing comparison with his famous father, Lon Jr. avoided appearing in horror films, but as he gained confidence in his abilities he agreed to try the genre and created the character with whom he would always be identified--the wolf man. Through the genius of Universal makeup artist Jack Pierce, Chaney underwent a complete transformation nearly as complete as his character's--gaining a rubber snout, fangs, claws, and lots of yak hair. Screenwriter Curt Siodmak patched together the legend of the werewolf by combining elements from lycanthropic folklore, witchcraft, and Bram Stoker's Dracula, creating a new monster for the screen. All elements combined to make a thrilling, scary, and ultimately tragic horror classic. Chaney essayed the role of the werewolf five more times, in FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, HOUSE OF DRACULA, and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, as well as a guest appearance on the television show "Route 66." leave a comment

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