Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)

MARCH 3, 2008


Man, I sure do take a long time to get through my own DVDs, huh? It was the first Monday in March of LAST YEAR (and I swear I didn't do it on purpose - I had to look up the date) that I last took in a movie from my Wolf Man collection, despite my “I should blow through all three of these Universal sets in a month or so” thinking at the time. I’m not even halfway through the three sets (the others being Dracula and Frankenstein), and adding insult to injury - I bought the damn things in in 2004!

Anyway, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man is pretty damn good, despite the wrongest title ever. It’s more like “The Guy Inside Of The Wolf Man Meets Frankenstein’s Monster And Then His Daughter”, but oh well. When it comes to Frankenstein movies, the title is always of debatable merit (see Bride Of Frankenstein, which contains less than 2 min of actual Bride).

After what I think may have been the first animated credits in movie history (I expect to be called out for being wrong here), the film begins with two guys trying to rob the Wolf Man’s grave and unintentionally resurrecting him, an obvious allusion to Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives. Which is the nice thing about sequels, because a lot of these old movies take a while before there’s any monster action, for obvious reasons (they weren’t created yet), so it’s nice to have a little bit of action right at the start before all the yakkity yak.

Most of what the characters are talking about for the next 40 minutes or so is the Wolf, and whether poor Larry Talbot (still billed as just “The Wolf Man”) is crazy or not. Though the writer occasionally takes time out of this to take a few cheap shots at Gypsies, with exchanges such as this:

Guy: Do you know Maleva, she’s a Gypsy.”
Guy 2: “Ah, a vagrant!”

Now come on! A Gypsy could very well have had his or own home. There’s also another line where a guy scoffs at the idea that a Gypsy would be telling the truth. Why all the hatred?

Although there’s not a lot of monster action (Frank’s monster doesn’t show up until halfway through or so), the only time the movie feels slow is around the 45 minute mark, when we are ‘treated’ to a lengthy musical number. It ends with a typical “Lon Chaney needs anger management” scene, and then Frankie comes barreling through on a rampage before hitching a ride on a runaway wagon, which livens things up considerably and more or less makes up for the lengthy song, but still: cut out a verse or two next time!

The finale is pretty rousing. In a hilarious bit, Frankie begins carrying the damsel off into the night, which pisses off Wolf Man. Wolf Man attacks Frankie while he’s still holding the woman, and as a result he drops her hard onto the stone floor a few feet below. Nice work, Larry, you probably fractured her spine in your “rescue” attempt. But then they begin whaling on each other, and despite the fact that the fight is incredibly short, it’s pretty sweet to see them go at it, since they are a more even match than many of the other movie monster fights we’ve seen since. Wolf Man could use a bit more originality in his fighting style though – his entire strategy seems to be climbing onto tables and the like, then jumping onto Frankie while howling. Then a surge of water from a dam explosion knocks over a model of a castle, which somehow results in their assumed drowning. And unlike the first Frankenstein film, the filmmakers had the good sense to end it right there, rather than have a wholly useless epilogue with some doctor talking about drinking while a few dames fawn over him.

Looking at the collection, I now see that Wolf Man never really got a legit sequel (the other monster sets have more movies too). This was half a Frankenstein movie, and the other two films on the set seem entirely unrelated (one of them actually came out 6 years before the original Wolf Man did). Bride of Wolf Man is an untapped treasure! Think of all the Gypsy jokes the film could have!!!

What say you?


  1. From that set I really like Werewolf of London. Maybe even better than The Wolf Man. They pulled of the transformation scene really nice for that time (though it's obvious how they did it.) Plus it has crazy scientists, which is a plus. You should check it out.

  2. i agree, werewolf in paris wasnt bad either, the transformation scene in the club was awesome

  3. I always think Lon Chaney Jr. gets short shrift for his acting abilities, and this film is a prime example of his greatness. He's menacing and innocent at the same time, a sensitive boy trapped in the body of a behemoth (even when he's not wolfed out, he still towers over folks, innocently invading their personal space and making them uncomfortable without meaning to, as in the fantastic scene in the original when he's macking on Evelyn Ankers). That's why he was so effective as Lenny in Of Mice and Men, another great flick. Here, in full tragic "why won't anyone believe/help me" mode, he's awesome.

    I can't believe you didn't mention that Bela Lugosi plays the monster here, though perhaps you took it to be common knowledge. :) Universal fans know that Bela was originally offered the role of the monster in the first Frankenstein flick, but turned it down b/c there were no lines, inadvertently allowing Karloff the breakthrough role in a career that would surpass his own. Also, it's in this movie we get the famous "monster walk" for the first time--arms outstretched, shambling--which had a good reason that was cut from the script: in the pervious Frankenstein flick, Son of Frankenstein (also excellent), the monster was given Igor's brain (Igor ALSO played by Lugosi! See, they were thinking about it!), but due to a botched surgery was struck blind. Therefore Lugosi is playing him blind, feeling his way. But like I said, they cut all that from the script, and so it just looks a little strange.

    Also fun--Chaney was considerably taller than Lugosi, so when he and the monster fought, he had to crouch down to make sure the creature towered over him appropriately. You can see it in the post-song rampage scene you mention.

    And the song is great! I love the last line and Larry's reaction to it--he doesn't WANT to live forever!

    I could go on like this for hours. :)

  4. I wasn't talking about An American Werewolf in London, though. I was talking about the 1935 Werewolf of London, which Brian mentions in his review as the one that predates it by six years.

    And I'd have to disagree. An American Werewolf in Paris sucks.

  5. I would love to see this one. It sounds fabulous. I WILL find it somewhere. thanks for the review.

  6. Frank Meets the Wolf Man is a lot of fun to watch. Not really creepy like earlier films in the series, but just a good time. I think it might be the first monster vs. another monster movie.

    I also wholeheartedly recommend Werewolf of London in that set. For my money, it's even better than The Wolf Man.

  7. I, too, love the song in FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN - and Talbot's vexed (to put it mildly) reaction to it.

    Regarding the legitimacy of Universal monster movie titles, I'm pretty sure that Valerie Hobson is much more than two minutes of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.

  8. Elsa Lancaster plays the bride not Valerie Hobson. The Bride of Frank got its name from not the bride itself but the idea of having a mate for Frankie Our family loves horror films . The Moho Family

  9. Anonymous--Cinefantastique is referring to the actress who played Elizabeth, the bride of Henry Frankenstein: Valerie Hobson. The film's title is actually a double-reference. It refers to Elizabeth Frankenstein AND, slyly, to the Monster's mate (Elsa Lanchester, who also plays Mary Shelley in the film's prologue).


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