JULY 22, 2008
One of my favorite minor characters on The Simpsons is the snooty clerk from Costingtons. He pretty much only says one thing: “Yyyyyeeeeeeessssssss!” (his odd speaking manner was explained away - he had a stroke). Well, most of the cast of Werewolf Of London talks exactly like that guy, so if you find him annoying, I urge you to steer clear of this film.
Another reason to steer clear is that you’ve probably already seen other werewolf movies, and thus this one doesn’t really offer anything new. Granted, it actually pre-dates The Wolf Man, and so respect must be paid, but that doesn’t mean it’s better. For starters, Larry Talbot is a far more interesting and sympathetic character than Dr. Glendon (Henry Hull), and the story is simply more engrossing in the later film. Here, the lycanthropy is tied to botany... hardly the stuff of excitement. Unless the plants are singing about eating Steve Martin or causing Jena Malone to strip off parts of her garments, I don’t want them in my horror movies.
Back to the characters though, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a collection of more sarcastic and bitter people in a movie. A full minute of the film is given to one shrill woman mocking the dialogue of another, slightly less annoying woman. They are often drunk or drinking, everyone seems to pretty much hate each other... but yet it just doesn’t entertain me as much as it should. Hell, I call for a remake, cast with the Apatow crew. They can spend the whole movie just mocking each other and then Paul Rudd can be the werewolf when time allows.
This side of the disc also contains a brief “documentary” about the history of the Wolf Man on screen, hosted by John Landis. It’s a nice little look and contains some pretty interesting trivia, I just wish it was longer. Each film gets about 5-7 minutes, when in reality, despite the obvious lack of a lot of surviving participants (though screenwriter Curt Siodmak was still around when the piece was put together), they each deserve a good 20-25 (except for She-Wolf of London, which is skipped entirely anyway, and for good reason). It’s hilarious when Landis points out that after a while they don’t even bother to explain why the Wolf Man has been resurrected at the beginning of a film.
My generally blasé feeling toward werewolf movies aside, this one is simply the first of what would become a longtime “series” of films about a sympathetic man becoming a monster, and it shows. It’s nice to see how it all started, but I am glad that The Wolf Man came along to improve on the formula. To me, it’s kind of like looking at the animatics of big FX sequences on a DVD – interesting, but it’s merely the groundwork for a vastly more entertaining spectacle.
What say you?