The Wolf Man (1941) starring Claude Rains, Warren William, and Lon Chaney Jr. Directed by George Waggner.
In the history of horror classics, Universal is the king of them all. Giving us the most memorable movie monsters ever. Even though they were monsters, Universal’s films had a way of making the audience sympathize with its monster characters… mostly for me, Larry Talbot as The Wolf Man. When his brother dies, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney) returns to Wales and reconciles with his father (Claude Rains). While there, he visits an antique shop and, hoping to impress Gwen (Evelyn Ankers), the attractive shopkeeper, buys a silver walking cane. That same night he kills a wolf with it, only to later learn that he actually killed a man (Bela Lugosi). A gypsy (Maria Ouspenskaya) explains that it was her son, a werewolf, that he killed, and that Larry is now one himself.
I have so many memories of seeing this film as a child. My father would take me every Friday to Captain Video in Ardsley NY. I’d rent out one horror VHS tape and one Nintendo 64 game. This movie, I must have rented over 100 times. It’s incredible. In it’s short run time, this film manages to hit every nail on the head when it comes to what good horror should be. Lon Chaney Jr.’s incredible performance as Larry Talbot, the amazing score, atmospheric feeling, etc. This film works differently than most Universal Horror films. It’s very Frankenstein-esque in the way that us as the audience feels and sympathizes for the monster. I just watched this recently with my girlfriend, and we both had so much fun with it and it 100% holds up as one of the best horror films ever made.
It’s very hard to find negative things to say about this film. The one negative I have is the lack of scenes showing the werewolf and the lack of an actual shot of the full moon. This film has a Godzilla feel to it… in ways that we don’t see the monster that long, but when we do it’s effective. I just wish that maybe we had some extra scenes of the werewolf transforming, prowling around village streets, etc.
I highly recommend this classic film if you have not seen it, it’s truly a masterwork in horror cinema.
Consensus: 9/10 full moons!