I see a lot of movies every year. A
ton. But this year I’ve decided I don’t see enough movies, so one of my
New Year Resolutions was to simply see more. And to write about them.
See, that’s the other half of the equation: I see a ton of movies, but
I write about comparatively few of them. There are a lot of reasons,
but they mainly boil down to the fact that I feel the  need to do long
form reviews, and sometimes – like in the midst of Sundance – I just
don’t have the time.


And
so was born this new blog! I aim to make an entry for every single
movie I see in 2010. Some entries may be very short, some may be
lengthy. Entries may take a couple of days to be posted. Let’s see how
long this lasts.


One
last  thing: one of my main objectives this year is to rewatch more
movies. I know this sounds like a strange goal, but there are films I
haven’t seen since high school, which means it’s been almost a lifetime
since I saw them. Recently I rewatched Black Christmas for the first
time since the 1980s, and I might as well have been seeing the movie
for the first time. I’m interested in getting a look at some movies I
loved or hated twenty or even ten years ago and seeing how I feel about
them now.


Let’s begin…

#16 Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
1943
d. Roy William Neill

The Legacy Collection DVDs have been out for a couple of months in my apartment. First it was Halloween fever leading me to revisit Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolf Man, then it was the desire to watch Bride of Frankenstein, to show my girlfriend our new cat’s namesake, Elsa Lanchester. Lately I’ve been itching to watch some of the Wolf Man sequels, but never got around to it.

After talking to my friend Drew McWeeny at HitFix about how his four year old responded to Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, I decided I had waited long enough and popped that sucker in late last night.

Interestingly this is either Frankenstein 5 or The Wolf Man 2, depending on how you look at it. Poor Lawrence Talbot never got his own real sequel – he would just keep popping up in other movies where the monsters got together (known as monster rally movies), and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man is the first of those crossovers.

Some thoughts that hit me:

- Talbot’s undead. He is raised from the grave at the beginning, simply by being exposed to the full moon. It’s interesting that for the rest of the Universal monster movies he’s just as undead as the Monster or Dracula.

- Talbot really wants to die. How often do you have a hero whose whole motivation is to die? Kind of grim.

- There’s some real continuity. The events of The Wolf Man come into play in  a big way, with Talbot buddying up with the mom of Bela, the gypsy werewolf who changed him. There’s also continuity from The Ghost of Frankenstein, but all  of that was cut out; in that film Ygor’s brain was put into the Monster’s body and the Monster was partially blinded. In the uncut (and I’m guessing lost) version of this movie the Monster talks in Ygor’s voice and maintains that blindness. Test audiences apparently didn’t like the Monster talking in Lugosi’s accent, so all that was cut, leading to what I think is the least satisfying Monster in the entire series (although him having Ygor’s face – Lugosi played Ygor and Chaney played the Monster in the last go-round – is a weirdly comforting bit of continuity).

The movie opens with a really great tracking shot in the graveyard that holds Talbot’s body, and there’s some fun monster scenes – I got a kick out of the Monster hanging on for dear life on a beer cart as he and Talbot race away from angry villagers – but I really, really dislike Lugosi’s Monster. He’s stiff in a way that Karloff never was, and his face looks ridiculous. Honestly, only Karloff and Glenn Strange were worth a damn as the Monster to me (and to the papers, apparently. According to Wikipedia a picture of Strange as the Monster ran alongside Karloff’s obit in many papers. Oops!).

There’s one thing modern movies should learn from these old Universal pictures – the quick ending. While it’s too bad that the Wolf Man and the Monster only really fight in the last few minutes (watching Chaney do Wolf Man’s weird leg kicks while rolling around on top of Lugosi is hilarious), the movie’s finale – a dam breaks and kills the monsters – happens and then “The End” pops up. No long epilogue or anything. The monsters are dead, get the fuck out of the theater, please.