Rewatching the Universal Monsters! The ones on the Blu-ray box, at least. It’s continuity-shmontinuity for our first big crossover, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.
Here’s what happens: After rising from the grave, Larry Talbot, a.k.a. the Wolf Man, learns he is immortal. Wanting to find a way to die and therefore end his curse, he eventually seeks out Elsa Frankenstein, daughter of Dr. Frankenstein. This then leads to uncovering Frankenstein’s monster frozen in ice. Elsa’s boyfriend, the not-subtly-named Frank, decides to bring the monster back to life. This sets up the confrontation between the two monsters.
Monster! It doesn’t take long into the movie before Talbot becomes the Wolf Man, and the first half of the movie has some fun werewolf-lurking-in-the-city-streets action.
Also a monster! This time it’s Bela Lugosi as Frankenstein’s monster, appropriate since this is technically Ygor’s brain in Frankenstein’s body. Allegedly, Lugosi’s performance was cut to pieces in the editing room. The story goes that Lugosi had speaking lines referencing Ygor and the monster’s blindness from Ghost of Frankenstein were going to be referenced, but all that was cut. Always great to see Bela on screen nonetheless.
Our hero: Larry Talbot is less a romantic lead this time around, and more of a tortured antihero. His quest for his own death makes him a little hard to relate to as protagonist. Once the mad science begins, Talbot’s character arc is kind of forgotten about, just so we can have the monster brawl.
Hapless humans: There are at least three Dr. Frankensteins in continuity by this point, with no reference to which one is Elsa’s father. Still, Elsa and Frank make an interesting couple, and a nice variation on the mad scientist trope. The rest of the cast, various cops, doctors, and villagers, are all familiar faces from previous Universal monster movies.
Thrills: There’s some fun Wolf Man action in the movie’s first half, but we’re all here for the big fight at the end. It’s pretty great, with Frankenstein’s monster being slow-moving raw strength, and the Wolf Man being agile and jumping all over the place. Maybe it’s pretty tame compared to the kitchen fight from The Raid 2, but it’s still fun.
Laughs: There’s no comic relief in the movie, but there’s a musical number! All the villagers in whatever town this is to sing the folk song “Faro-la Faro-li.” It takes Talbot a long, long time before he loses it and tells them to stop singing.
Thoughts upon this viewing: The movie is a little clunky, with occasional moments of fun stuff happening. Perhaps the two monsters meeting deserved better, but for more of a B-movie, it’s pretty fun.
Next: In living color.
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