Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)

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Overall Rating 64%
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Ranked #4,606
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Connections: Frankenstein The Wolf Man

Larry Talbot finds himself in an asylum, recovering from an operation performed by the kindly Dr. Mannering. Inspector Owen finds him there, too, wanting to question him about a recent spate of murders. Talbot escapes and finds Maleva, the old gypsy woman who knows his secret: when the moon is full, he changes to a werewolf. She travels with him to locate the one man who can help him to die - Dr. Frankenstein. The brilliant doctor proves to be dead himself, but they do find Frankenstein's daughter. Talbot begs her for her father's papers containing the secrets of life and death. She doesn't have them, so he goes to the ruins of the Frankenstein castle to find them himself. There he finds the Monster, whom he chips out of a block of ice. Dr. Mannering catches up with him only to become tempted to monomania while using Frankenstein's old equipment. --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: November 29, 2015
In the mid to late 40s, Universal's horror movies were known for throwing all of their established monsters into a single film. That trend started here, in 1943's Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.

For four years, the cursed body of Lawrence Talbot has laid in the family crypt after being bludgeoned to death by his father, but he certainly hasn't been resting in peace. In fact, the only thing that's keeping him in Death's grip right now is the bed of wolfbane that's been laid over the cadaver, wolfbane that's been moved by a pair of grave robbers who's made the unfortunate decision to disturb the tomb on a full moon. Immediately transforming into the wolf man, Lawrence kills these would-be thieves, and sets out into the streets. When he comes to, he realizes that professional medical and police help won't do him any good, and reconnects with Maleva, the gypsy mother of the man who cursed him. Together, they set out to Valeria hoping that Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein will be able to help them, unaware that the good doctor has perished in a fire and a devious criminal now inhabits the body of his father's creation.

Unfortunately, neither of the titular monsters reach the bar set by their previous appearances. Poor Bela Lugosi in particular got horribly shafted by the studio here. If you remember, at the end of Ghost his character, Ygor, had his brain moved into the monster's body. Afterwards, he had Ygor's voice while speaking, but the transfer cost him his eyesight. Now, even though he spoke at the end of the movie, the studio decided they didn't want Lugosi's accent coming out of the monster throughout the running time, so all of his speaking parts were completely nixed, including his explanation reminding the audience that the last movie's climax has left him blind. You see, that stereotypical Frankenstein walk you see nowadays, with arms stretched out straight, originated from this movie, and it was a result of that handicap. Apparently the movie going public forgot that little detail, and he received a lot of flack for these strange movements. Even more of a problem, we were robbed of another performance by Lugosi! Ygor was a bright spot in both of his appearances, and I would have loved to see him up to his devious tricks again. His hairy counterpart also left a bit to be desired, but his problem lies in the opposite direction. The charismatic charm that made us fall in love with him in The Wolf Man is gone, and he spends the entirety of the movie frantically whining about how he wants to die. This might have worked if he had a foil to balance things, and there were a few characters that could have filled this role (Maleva came the closest), but ultimately none of them were given enough screen time to fully realize it. With that said, his time spent as the bloodthirsty wolf were a fantastic return to form; the liberal use of the dissolve transformations and the scenes of him stalking the city had a huge smile on my face. It's a shame he never got his own sequel to build on the themes of his mortality without having to shoehorn the Frankenstein plot in there.

In a way though, this is indeed Wolf Man 2; the film is mostly centered on Talbot. Ygor doesn't even appear until after the half way point, and again, his major contributions were largely written out of the plot anyway. You see, here's a bit of movie trivia for you. When screenwriter Curt Siodmak pitched the idea, he was actually joking because he needed something so he can buy a new car. To his surprise, they went for it. The problem lies in that, even though this is basically a Wolf Man sequel and would have been much better served solely towards that end, Universal's motivation was only on the easy money the novelty of the crossover would bring in. After this, they really pushed the envelope and just threw everybody in there. It's a shame, and the movie fan in me can only wonder what might have been had the studio kept the story at the heart of these films.

I had high hopes going into this. Not only did the last Frankenstein movie have an upward swing, but I'm always ready for another helping of Wolf Man action. Sadly, I was sorely let down, and I was shown exactly what to expect with the subsequent releases in the series. 4/10.
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