Saturday, April 19, 2008

Movie of the Week: Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man!

So, now that we've caught up with what happened with Laurence Talbot in "The Wolf Man," we can continue with the Frankenstein Saga!

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Yes, "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man" was the first of Universal's monster team-up movies, and it featured Bela Lugosi as the Frankenstein Monster, with Lon Chaney, Jr. reprising his role as the Wolf Man. Let's see how much of the plot I recall, since it's been too long since I've seen it!

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The movie begins as a pair of graverobbers invade the Talbot family crypt, and open up Laurence Talbot's coffin, where he's very nicely preserved. Stealing what jewelry they can find, they turn to look and see what they can purloin from the other coffins.

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Unfortunately for the duo, it's the night of the full moon, and as the lunar light strikes Laurence Talbot's corpse, it somehow brings him back to life and transforms him into the Wolf Man!

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Of course, the graverobbers are quickly dispatched, and the next day, Larry makes his way across the country, looking for a cure for his lycanthropy!

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Now, somehow, Larry decides that Doctor Frankenstein came across a cure for werewolfism, so he makes his way to whatever the German town is named this movie (I forget which, but in one movie in the saga, it was named "Frankenstein"!).

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Anyway, before too long, Larry explores the ruins of Castle Frankenstein as the Wolfman, and falls down a hole, and after returning to human form, he discovers the frozen body of the Frankenstein Monster! Yes, this is where the Monster ended up after losing its sight and going berserk.

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Larry enlists the asisstance of Baroness Frankenstein (a daughter or grand-daughter of Victor, I forget which), and with her help, discovers the location of Frankenstein's book of knowledge, which gives him some hope! Another doctor is also called in to assist with the procedures outlined which will not only rid Larry of his curse, but also serve to revive the Monster!

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Of course, as always seems to happen, just as things are finally going to work out for Larry, it's the night of the Full Moon, and... well... you can see for yourself!



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By this time, the Monster is truly a Monster... there's no humanity left in the poor guy, he's just a means of destruction, more or less! Lugosi was now the third actor to portray the Monster (next time around would be Glenn Strange's turn, and he kept the role for the remainder of the series, I believe).

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Overall, however, it's good popcorn movie fun... just as long as you don't keep Karloff's portrayal too close in your mind.

Of course, the Monster and the Wolf Man would return for the next installment in the saga, "House of Frankenstein," joined by Dracula (kind of... if you haven't seen it, wait a few weeks), and all three would appear in "House of Dracula" and make their final bow (in these incarnations) in "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein."

Next week, we'll turn the Movie of the Week eye on Dracula, as we catch up with what the Count had been up to, cinematically... following that will be "Son of Dracula," and I may put in an installment with "Dracula's Daughter," even though I've never seen it!

Jon

2 comments:

  1. Jon,
    Re: "whatever the German town is named"

    They were going to Vasaria, the home of Ludwig Frankenstein. (If you remember "Ghost of Frankenstein", Ygor took the Monster there.) BTW, that also answers your puzzle about Baroness Elsa. She's Ludwig's daughter. (There's an untold story there. What happened to Ludwig and his family after his house was burned?)

    Bela Lugosi must have been frustrated around this time. In this one, he took over the role of the Monster, stepping into Lon Chaney, Jr.'s boots. In "Son of Dracula", Chaney, Jr. took over his Dracula role. In the next 2 "House of" films, he was out completely (John Carradine took over Dracula).

    There's an urban legend that lots of Lugosi's footage was cut out of this film because a preview audience laughed at Ygor's voice coming out of the Monster's mouth. I don't understand that at all. I never heard that anyone laughed at the same thing happening in "Ghost of"? There were 2 unfortunate side effects:
    1. The arms-outstretched stumbling of the Monster now had no rationale. People didn't realize the Monster was blind.
    2. Lugosi's performance was minimalized. If he intended the Monster to be anything more than a dumb brute, we didn't get to see it.
    Thanks!

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