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The Wolf Man
Der Wolfsmensch

USA 1941
produced by
George Waggner for Universal
directed by George Waggner
starring Lon Chaney jr, Evelyn Ankers, Claude Rains, Bela Lugosi, Ralph Bellamy, Warren Williams, Patric Knowles, Fay Helm, Maria Ouspenskaya, Leyland Hodgson, Forrester Harvey, Tom Stevenson, J.M.Kerrigan
written by Curt Siodmak, make-up effects by Jack Pierce

Universal Horror cycle, Wolf Man

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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After the death of his brother, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney jr) comes back to his father's (Claude Rains) estate to reconcile with the old man, who is the big landowner & overall big-shot in a small Welsh village. Soon, Larry's eyes fall on Gwen (Evelyn Ankers), the daughter of the local antique shop owner (J.M.Kerrigan), & he starts to court her by buying a cane from her that has a handle in the shape of a wolf made of solid silver - & he even managaes to get a date with her later that night, to go to a gypsy fortune teller Bela (Bela Lugosi) ... but much to Larry's disappointment, Gwen brings her friend Jenny (Fay Helm) as her chaperone.

However, soon after she was with the fortune teller, Jenny is attacked by a wolf & killed. Larry arrives just seconds too late to save her life, but beats the wolf to death with his cane (with a silver handle, get it ?). Later Jenny's corpse is found, but besides her not the dead wolf but the dead body of Bela ... and Larry's cane. Furthermore when Larry is questioned by the police captain (Ralph Bellamy) about this, he starts to contradict himself when he claims to have been wounded by the wolf he killed but his wound appears to be healed. However, Larry's father is powerful enough to have the case of manslaughter against his son dropped, but agrees to put Larry under the surveillance of family doctor Lloyd (Warren Williams).

This doesn't help in the slightest though, since Larry, to the disbelief of everyone except the old gypsie woman Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya), has turned into a werewolf, & the very next night he roams the countryside again & kills an old gravedigger (Tom Stevenson).

The next night, while his father helps forming a posse to hunt down the beast who has killed Jenny & the gravedigger (not knowing that the beast is his son), Larry again tries to confess everything, but his father decides on dracstic measures to convince his son he is not the werewolf ... he ties him to a chair while the posse is out to kill the wolf.

Of course, as soon as noone is watching Larry breaks free & roams the countryside yet again, & of course despite everyone warning her not to Gwen has decided to walk the woods that night on her own, until she catches the eye of werewolf Larry who prepares to move in for the kill when his own father - with his own cane with the silver wolf-shaped handle - interferes & beats the beast to death ... & only after the wolf is dead does he turn back to Larry ...

 

In contrast to earlier now classic Universal horrors like Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein & (in parts) also Dracula - films that were highly inventive, original & tried to push genre boundaries - The Wolf Man, one of Universal's later entries in their horror cycle, stays firmly inside these boundaries & relies on tried-&-true, but even back then a tad old-fashioned ingredients (like the ever popular  shadows & fog, gypsies as the heralds of the uncanny, the beast inside the man, ...), & by now seems rather dusted in both direction & story-telling. Also, Jack Pierce's wolf make-up is one of his lesser efforts, with Chaney's wolf-face resemblng more that of a cute puppy. 

All that doesn't make Wolf Man a bad movie, it's just many steps away from greatness (or from "so bad it's good"-ness, like some later Unviersal horrors) ... & Lon Chaney jr gives a very fine performance here.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD