Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman - 1943
Frankenstein meets the Wolfman - Released March 5, 1943. Directed by Roy Neill
Film history claims that Lugosi's lines (Bela Lugosi playing the 'Frankenstein' monster here) were cut from the final release because test audiences laughed. This removal takes away an important aspect of the story that is carried over from the previous Frankenstein movie The Ghost of Frankenstein - - which is that Ygor's brain is now in the monster's body.
Lugosi's work as Ygor in Son of Frankenstein and in Ghost were some of the best things about those sequels. Also, that story thread, as we see over and over here, is integral to how the Frankenstein Monster blunders about with arms outstretched due to Ygor's brain having a different blood type than the body, and this resulted in blindness. This irony, along with the "science" and the handicap is all thrown out the window with Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman. Instead we have the monster operating on a sort of cretinous level, moving like a gigantic toddler.
Aside from a few scenes of facial expression, Lugosi hardly seems in the movie at all, obvious stunt doubles handle the (well done) hand-to-hand combat between Chaney's Wolfman and the monster. The stunt double lugs off Ilona Massey in one scene, his makeup obviously inferior to what Lugosi is wearing in close ups.
Ilona Massey (as Baroness Elsa Frankenstein) doesn't have a lot to do except look beautiful while looking offscreen, something done well. Patric Knowles is a doctor enlisted to dissect the monster and finally put it out of business, but instead he (of course) becomes strangely interested in the creature's potential and wants to instead see it at "full power." At that point several electrical machines (Tesla or Strickfaden) are put into action. The noise level is intense and Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman briefly turns into a bizarre heavy metal music video.
The script (by Curt Siodmak) seems over-simplified and under-written, though it contains the standard elements of mad-doctor science from previous Universal films. Lon Chaney as the tormented Wolfman trying to convince skeptical authority about his homicidal penchants (and here this is pushed to a new level when Larry Talbot realizes he cannot die) is fine, but it doesn't make the film better in other departments. Lionel Atwill, always professional, is onscreen as one of the few people of the village of Vasaria who can keep their head on straight once the name of "Frankenstein" is heard. Maria Ouspenskaya reappears as the gypsy woman from The Wolfman, making this movie a double-sequel, not only for Ghost of Frankenstein but also Chaney's 1941 film.
The climax, which involves a small scale model of a dam and castle, unfortunately looks just like what it is, a small scale model, trurning the film into a sort of small child's nightmare. Art direction elsewhere is good, but the feeling of tiredness with the material is evident in the writing and even the special effects, and this movie more than any other previously made at Universal puts us on a direct glide path to deliberate laughter with Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein in 1948.
Original Page May 2017 | Updated March 2018
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