In Tibet, botanist Dr Glendon (Henry Hull) finds one of the rarest plants
imaginable, the Marifasa, a plant that only blooms at moonlight - but the price
he has to pay for it is high as immediately after finding the Marifasa he is
attacked by a wolflike creature ...
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Weeks later in London, Glendon locks himself away in his lab for days on end
& tries to create artificial moonlight to bring the flower to bloom - &
his wife, lovely Lisa (Valerie Hobson), feels understandably neglected, which
leads her to spend more & more time with her childhood love Paul Ames
At a social gathering Lisa has arranged at their mansion, Glendon meets
Oriental Dr Yogami (Warner Oland), a sinister character who claims the Marifasa
is the only cure of lycanthropy (medical term for the sickness that turns
humans into werewolves) ...
Some time later, when Glendon's hand is exposed to his moonlight lamp, he
notices it grows all hairy - as if he would be turning into a wolf ... &
yes the next full moon, he really turns into a werewolf & starts killing
Soon he realizes it's much too dangerous to stay with the woman he loves
& he distances himself from her, both by closing her out of his life &
by moving away from home. But at the first cheap motel he stays he can't
supress his lethal instincts & kills some people ... so he decides to spend
the next night at his & Lisa's country estate all locked up - but to little
avail, since as a wolf he has superhuman strength & breaks out of his self
imposed prison, and Lisa has picked exactly that day to come to the
country estate with Paul. Werewolf Glendon would have even killed Lisa hadn't
it been for Paul ...
But Paul also seems to have recoginzed the werewolf as Glendon & reports
it to the police ... but since another werewolf murder happened at thew same
time 150 miles away from the country estate, the police refuses to believe
& the victim of this murder was ... Dr Yogami's housekeeper, as Yogami
proves to be a werewolf as well, the one who has bitten & infected Glendon
in the first place.
& Yogami comes to Glendon's lab just when Glendon has - with the help of
his moonlight lamp - finally caused the Marifasa to bloom, & he could now
heal himself - woulnd't it be for Yogami trying to steal the plant.
Yogami & Glendon get into a fight & Glendon starts turning into a
werewolf & kills Yogami, then even attacks his own wife Lisa, when the
police has finally caught up with Yogami - whom they think to be the only
werewolf - & shoot Glendon ...
Universal's first foray into the werewolf movie genre proves to have an at
times interesting script, that as a whole is too convoluted though to convince,
especially since some of the concepts of it (e.g. the moonlight lamp) are
downright silly & only distract from the main narrative. A direction that
doesn't necessarily get too involved with its subject matter doesn't help too
review © by Mike Haberfelner
... and a second opinion by Dale Pierce ...
Henry Hull plays a botanist on an expedition to Tibet finds a rare flower
which among other things, has the power to cure werewolfism. As he attempts to
take the plant, a werewolf leaps out from behind the rocks and tries to stop
him, bites him and gets fended off by a knife blow.
Back in London, the scientist studies the plant and forgets his injuries, only
to discover, surprise, surprise, that he has become a werewolf himself. Adding
to his problems is a visit from a stranger, in fact an old acquaintance, the
werewolf (played by Oland at his most sinister) who attacked him in Tibet and
caused all the trouble to begin with. He of course, wants the plant and its
healing powers, which said infected botonist has not yet completely harnessed.
Well, the Oland-wolf ends up dead and the Hull-wolf continues to terrorize
London until he is shot by police. Interestingly enough there are two things
here, not utilized in future wolfman type movies. First, Hull's werewolf is
capable of speech, even blurting out "Thanks for the bullet" to the
officer who killed him. Secondly, regular bullets, rather than silver ones, do
the trick here.
There are some interesting special effects and scenes in this 1935 vehicle.
One of the transformation scenes shows the scientist turning from man to wolf
as he passes between rows of test tubes, with each row showing him in
sequence, turning hairier and uglier. Likewise, in a bit of black humor, the
werewolf is seen growling at or perhaps communicating with a real wolf in a
cage in a zoo.
Hull lived to be a very old individual. In his last years of life, Famous
Monsters Of Filmland magazine sought to boost his morale by running
an article, Henry Hull Would Like To hear From You and forwarding fan
letters to him, to prove he was not forgotten. He was clearly remembered and
the amount of mail was supposedly staggering. He died a happy man.
Hull had many other roles over the years, including Hitchcock's Lifeboat,
but it is for this piece he is best recalled. Some maintain this is the first
movie to ever depict a werewolf on the screen, which may or may not be true.
It might be, as the famous Chaney piece, The
Wolfman, did not come out until
1941, again if memory serves me right.