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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 22- Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943)

Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, released in 1943, is the first movie in what is considered the "Monster Mash era." During this period, which lasted into the 1950's, in a last ditch effort to keep the horror monsters alive, Universal decided to put a number of the monsters it made famous into movies together. This movie features Bela Lugosi as the Monster. It's ironic that 12 years after originally refusing to play the Monster in Frankenstein, Lugosi finally decides to play the character here, and it's also ironic that Lugosi is playing the Monster after Ygor (also by Lugosi) had his brain transplanted into the Monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein. Another interesting fact is that this movie written to be a sequel for both The Ghost of Frankenstein and The Wolf Man.

These have got to be the two unluckiest grave robbers ever.
The movie begins with the awakening of Larry Talbot/ the "Wolf Man" (played for the second time by Lon Chaney Jr.)  from his resting place by a couple grave robbers. After being awakened a murdering someone else as the Wolf Man, Talbot travels to Castle Frankenstein in an attempt to find the notes of Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein. Talbot's intention with these notes is to figure out a scientific way to end his life permanently.

While at Castle Frankenstein, Talbot sees the full moon and transforms into the Wolf Man, and while he is wrecking the place, Talbot manages to revive the Monster by pure chance, falling through to the frozen caves under the castle. With the Monster revived, Talbot finds that the Monster has no idea where Frankenstein put his notes, and decides to seek out the Baroness, Elsa Frankenstein (played by Ilona Massey). After the Monster crashes a village festival, Elsa decides to give Talbot the notes. Along with the help of Dr. Mannering (Patric Knowles), the plan is to find a way to permanently dispose of both Talbot and the Monster.

Larry Talbot after reviving the Monster
Mannering eventually is corrupted by the thought of fully reviving the Monster to its full strength, and attempts to do so. Incidentally, this occurs on the night of a full moon, setting up one of the most iconic fights between two horror stars, Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi and two horror characters, Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolf Man. The only thing that would make this fight better or more iconic is if Boris Karloff was somehow involved.
Lugosi and Chaney, two horror icons

After the Monster attempts to whisk away Elsa, the Wolf Man attacks the Monster, allowing her to run out of the castle with Dr. Mannering. The Monster and the Wolf Man continue to fight around the lab until a flood meant to destroy all the castle's inhabitants wipes them both away.

The fight between the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster
This movie is a true classic in the horror genre, as it was the first film to bring a couple of the most important Universal monsters together and pit them against each other in an epic battle to the "death," although (Spoiler Alert) they never seem to die. Many movies would try to accomplish what this film did, but none will truly match the power of Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. Return tomorrow for a continuation of the "Monster Mash" franchise when I review House of Frankenstein.

I give it a flawless 5 out of 5.

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