Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
Overview: There is a monster named Frankenstein and a man who is also a wolf. They meet.
Sequels: After watching over a dozen of these movies, two of them have shown themselves to be a class of their own. One is the second Frankenstein movie, Bride of Frankenstein, and the other is the second Wolf Man movie, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.
Perhaps its the removal of exposition to focus on a bigger story or its the confidence that a sequel can sometimes bring where a creator bounces off the success of part one and avoids going down the same road in favor of the chance to go bigger. Bride of Frankenstein re-trod a lot of Frankenstein’s steps while adding some extra elements with an evil scientist and an instantly iconic female character, while this sequel to The Wolf Man aims to be as different as possible to its prequel, much to its benefit.
2 Wolf 2 Man: Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man begins with a doomed gravedigger in a sequence that is probably the scariest I’ve seen so far in these movies. Sometimes the leaden pace of these classic horrors makes them hard to watch, but here that pace works to really ratchet up the tension once Talbot/The Wolf Man’s coffin is open and the full moon shines in. From there Talbot wakes up in a hospital, escapes, kills a copper, and then goes searching around Europe for the gypsy from the first movie and a way for him to die and finally rid himself of his curse. His search takes him to the home of a scientist he had heard about, Doctor Frankenstein (though it’s the Doctor Frankenstein from Ghost of Frankenstein so Doctor Frankenstein Jr.). Talbot travels to Visaria and finds Frankenstein’s lab destroyed as it was at the end of Ghost. Long story short, he finds the Monster (now played by Bela Lugosi) and they form an uneasy partnership that ends in a fight to the death.
Pace: I really enjoyed this movie, because it had a sense of purpose and pace. Many of these movies are based around normals trying to work out what’s been killing people and then, once they realise it’s a monster, how to kill the monster. The Wolf Man movies are so enjoyable because Larry Talbot is the hero and the monster at the same time, so we’re always with him rather than with the townsfolk. This means that we get to see romance, comedy, and mystery with Talbot’s story, and also we get to see him rips dudes’ throats out and pounce around the woods. He also has a particular purpose which is to remove the curse. Frankenstein usually just lies around until he’s revived to rampage for a bit and the Dracula trilogy follow the same pattern over and over with a new vampire each time.
Overall: At the end of Ghost, my favourite character Ygor had his brain put into the monster’s head, meaning that the monster could speak but was blind and deaf. This is that monster only Bela Lugosi’s dialogue is all cut out of the movie giving casual audiences no context for why the monster walks around like a blind man. The dialogue was either cut because Lugosi’s accent sounded ridiculous coming out of the monster, which I disagree with as it sounded fine in Ghost, or that Ygor-stein spent most of the movie talking about his plan of world domination. And in 1943, that was deemed a little Hitler-y for some tastes. Now I really enjoyed this movie, but if Ygor-stein had been able to speak and wanted to rule the world, then I would watch this movie every day for the rest of my life.
Featured Image: Universal Pictures