A Review by Jason L. King
Starring: Lon Chaney Jr.
Directed by: George Wagner
Movie Released: 1941
The summer months have been whisked away and we are now heading into autumn with leaves turning colors and people’s doorsteps sporting jack-o-lanterns and skeletons. October is Halloween, month of the monsters, hence why many of the reviews you are seeing are horror films or monster movies. Throughout the month of October 2009, I will be focusing at least a solid portion of my reviews on various movie monsters each week. Week #3’s movie monster is Werewolves.
Werewolves never get a fair shake in the world in my opinion. As you span many different films featuring the mythical movie monsters, it always seems the werewolf is the mythical stooge of Dracula or Frankenstein, or just perceived as kind of a “dumb” creature. Now don’t get me wrong, he’s not as dumb as the mummy…but he’s portrayed as pretty dumb. Of course there are movies where that is not the case, there is always Teen Wolf, but when you really look at the big picture, werewolves just don’t get their day in the sun (or I guess full moon if you prefer).
In 1941 Universal tried to give the werewolf his glory day by making The Wolf Man. The story is of a man who is bitten by a werewolf late one night. Despite never believing in the mythical creature, he now begins turning into one at night, unwillingly stalking human prey. With the town outraged that a savage beast lurks on the streets at night, he doesn’t know what to do or who to turn to.
Now don’t get me wrong, I wanted a werewolf to have his day but his day kind of sucked. I felt like the werewolf it self wasn’t really that creepy or even methodical of a creature once our character turned. I gathered werewolves wonder around biting things randomly and are afraid of silver. When you turn into a werewolf, at least in this film you look kind of cute and cuddly, much like Chaka, the monkey creature from Land of the Lost.
The point of the Wolf Man saga really happens when there is no wolf man on screen. It is all about the man’s internal struggle between good and evil, himself and the beast within. The Wolfman really just was another Jekyll and Hyde story only instead of crazy old Hyde you are a crazy wolf. We spend more time watching the tortured spirit of the man and see little of the wolf. And to make matters worse, when I did see the wolf, I was not frightened of him.
Maybe all this is why werewolves are the vampire slaves in films. At least in this film, there just didn’t seem to be enough spooky content there. Yes, I know it’s hard for anyone to bash on a classic and The Wolf Man really is such. There is something about it that makes it worth watching, but most of that to me felt like Hollywood nostaligia, not for a spooky Halloween type film. The Wolf Man will have you shaking in your seat about as much as Teen Wolf (side note: Mike does this count as a Michael J. Fox joke?).