Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man Reviews
Anyway, I digress ... here we have Curt Siodmak, writer of The Wolf Man, returning again as screenwriter. All of the ingredients are there for a great sequel. It opens in Larry Talbot's tomb, with two graverobbers breaking in and disturbing his resting place. The moonlight comes through the window and falls on Larry's corpse, waking him from his slumber as the wolf man. He then gets taken to a hospital where he is deemed insane due to his insistence that he's a werewolf, but promptly escapes in search of the gypsy woman from the original film. She takes him to Frankenstein's town in search of his scientific expertise, and there he encounters Frankenstein's monster encased in ice ... my memory is a little hazy, but wasn't he consumed in fire at the end of the last movie? Ah, well.
It should really have been called "The Wolf Man Meets Frankenstein", because Frankenstein here is only a fairly minor character in the story. Lon Chaney Jr delivers another great performance, at least as good as that in the first film if not better. Of course, he does only have to have one mood to convey here -- desperation. Bela Lugosi, much as I love him, is a terrible Frankenstein. He's the wrong size and shape, and he clearly has no respect for the role. Thank god he doesn't appear for that long. Although having said that, it does kind of make sense that he plays the monster, as the brain of his Igor character was placed in Frankenstein's head at the end of the previous movie. Not that they have much continuity other than that.
The script certainly has it's moments, and the atmosphere of the two worlds of the Wolf Man and Frankenstein blend together fairly well, but on the whole this film just doesn't have enough interesting ideas and far too many dull moments. The set pieces are decent enough, but certainly not as striking as those in the earlier Frankenstein movies. Also, there's a fair bit of decidedly wooden acting from certain cast members, but that's to be expected from most of Universal's horror films.
This sequel is entertaining enough, but it's not half as good as it could have been. It's worth watching if you liked the original.
Ouspenskaya is back as Maleva, the gypsy woman, but the plot gets a bit silly when she and Talbot go seeking Dr. Frankenstein. The angry mob in the generic European mountain town is the worst part of the movie. They are a waste of screen time. By the way, the townspeople mention they set fire to Frankenstein's castle to rid themselves of the doctor and his monster, yet when Talbot falls into some lower chamber of the castle it is covered in snow and the Frankenstein's monster has been preserved in ice! Ridiculous. There is no legitimate explanation for this though I understand this device of having the monsters encased in ice is used again in this movie's sequel. Lugosi takes a stab at filling the makeup and costume of Frankenstein's monster. Karloff's performance is definitive, so Lugosi only succeeds in giving the character a vacuous expression, despite the prequel. Here's a bit of a spoiler- Talbot and Frankenstein's monster are friends through most of the movie. Talbot as a man and the childlike man-made creation are gentle misunderstood beings. Somehow in this fantasy horror world even that is a little hard to fully believe. Anyways, Dr. Frankenstein's daughter and a visiting doctor interested in Dr. Frankenstein's work attempt to help out. After the burning and the freezing or whatever happened to Frankenstein's castle, the laboratory equipment is in amazing working order. All that is left is to drain the energy out of both creatures to stop any more mischief. But no. No. NO! Of course it is too tempting to charge them both up to the max. The fight is brief like the movie on the whole and the run time of the first Wolf Man. And the ending is left open for the monsters to return in numerous sequels.
In this unrated continuation of the Universal franchise, Larry Talbot (Chaney) leaves Britain in search of a cure for the curse that causes him to transform into a werewolf with every full moon, going to the remains of Frankenstein's castle where he hopes to find there the scientific notes of Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein but inadvertently finds his daughter (Ilona Massey) and the monster (Lugosi).
The film puts nearly impossibly tasked screenwriter Curt Siodmak through the nearly impossible paces of pitting two legendary characters together in a somewhat believable manner in an unbelievable world of gods and monsters. His ploy works (add Talbot chips the monster from the ice to the synopsis above), but despite a career that began at Universal with The Invisible Man Returns and continued with Son of Dracula and House of Frankenstein The Wolf Man remains his screenwriting high point.
Bottom line: Fast and Furry-ous
The film isn't as good as Frankenstein or the Wolfman, but it has it's moments. I actually found that it was a better film before the Monster/Frankenstein (Bela Lugosi) was introduced to the plot though. Lugosi was a great Dracula, but his Frankenstein is no Boris Koloff. The film just gets a little silly once he's introduced and his Frankenstin doesn't have the great presence that's Koloff's had.