Film Review - Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman

Starring - Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., Ilona Massey, Patric Knowles, Dwight Frye | Directed by Roy William Neill | Universal DVD FF Not Rated 70min 1943

Review By Xmortis

This is the fifth Universal film to showcase the Frankenstein Monster. This time he's going up against The Wolfman in an epic battle between two iconic Universal Horror characters. It's also birth of monster movie showdowns.

Two grave robbers break into the crypt of Larry Talbot to take any thing they can sell. When they make the mistake of opening his grave, Larry awakens and stumbles into the streets and is taken to a hospital for help. But the moon is full, and he changes into the Wolfman and escapes, killing a policeman. Larry wakes up in the hospital once more, and everyone wants to know who he is because it's said that Larry Talbot died four years earlier. They just think he is crazy and send him to the looney bin. After some research, people begin to believe that he may in fact be Larry Talbot, and when he escapes once more he heads to Maleva for help in breaking his curse. They travel to see Ludwig Frankenstein who is found out to be dead after the events of Ghost of Frankenstein. The Wolfman kills a young girl and becomes the target of an angry mob. He finds shelter in Frankenstein's old lab where he falls into a cave. He turns back into Larry and finds the frozen body of the Monster. After he frees the Monster, Larry finds Ludwig's notes and then tracks down his daughter Elsa but she refuses to help. That night the village is having a festival for the new wine, and Elsa and Larry become guests at the event. Larry befriends the Monster who shows up at the festival scaring the villagers and making them both marked men. Larry gets help from the hospital doctor and Elsa to cure his curse but instead all he gets is heartbreak and a fight with the Monster that leaves the villagers flooding the lab ruins ending the Monster and the Wolfman's reign of terror.

This is an amazing film pitting two of Universal's iconic monsters against one another, even if it is only at the film's closing. This formula went on to make many other famous clashes like King Kong vs. Godzilla, Dracula vs. Frankenstein and Freddy vs. Jason showing that monster showdowns are money makers and one fun way to spend time if you're a horror fan. Bela Lugosi finally dons the bolts and becomes the Monster for the first time, and while he tries to be scary he just comes off slow, sluggish and way too short. Lugosi's Monster is just too stiff and marks the worst actor to play him for the Universal series and that's sad for me to say. Plus this shows that the Monster was just frozen in ice for all those years after he was burned up in a fire in "Ghost. Yeah, that makes no sense but just roll with it. Lon Chaney Jr. is Larry Talbot aka the Wolfman for the second time and once more pulls off an amazing performance and makes you care for Larry to find a way to end his curse. That is one thing that Chaney Jr. was a master at, making you cheer and care for the characters he played. Ilona Massey takes on the role of Elsa Frankenstein, and while she is not given much to do, she still puts in a solid performance. The rest of the cast is solid as well, and everyone does an out standing job making this film a full fledged classic horror picture. The plot is super simple following Larry Talbot as he tries to find a cure for his curse and finds help in a doctor and Ludwig Frankenstein's daughter Elsa. Along the way he meets the Monster and gets the villagers wanting both monsters dead. The monster fight doesn't happen until the last four minutes of the film, and while by today's standards it's very lackluster, I found it exciting when I was a kid and equally so as an adult. While the film is riddled with flaws and a build up to a fight that never fully rages on, it's still an amazing sequel that is sure to please young and old alike. I say it's worth a watch and a buy for sure!

This is another Region 2 PAL DVD. That's the only way to get a single disc release of this film. Extras include original trailer and subtitles, nothing special but it's really neat seeing the trailer.

It's clear by the time this fifth film came around that Universal had run out of ideas for the Monster and that's why they paired him up with the Wolfman, to try and get as much money out of the character as they could. Little did they know that they would make the first ever major monster mash up film that would be as popular in modern culture today as it was in 1943. This remains one of my favorite sequels in the series and will forever hold a place in my movie collection.

Up next, another monster mash, but this time they add Dracula in the mix for the sixth appearance of the Monster in House of Frankenstein!