Unrated, 1 hr. 10 min. Directed By: George Waggner. Release Date: Dec 12, 1941. DVD Release Date: Aug 28, 2001.
When I saw that my 100 movie list would include some of the classic monster movies, I was thrilled, but mostly, I was looking forward to this: The Wolfman. I’ve never seen any of these monster movies from the 40s and 50s, but I have seen movies that were inspired by these flicks, and these monsters have appeared in the cartoons of my youth, notably Scooby Doo.
Unlike most modern horror films, I only have a single (serious) complaint. There’s a line from the show Archer where the world’s most dangerous spy says during a practice exercise something to the effect of “just pick an accent and stick with it, will you?” I would have the same question for this cast and crew, whose countries of origin seemed to have been all over the former Commonwealth and into Central Europe, although some of them seemed to periodically jump between accents, the way you do when you’re playing at one and you slip out of it into your natural accent.
Otherwise, I know why these have been such favorites for so long. They’re… delightfully cheesy, fun, and short enough to be a diversion, but not long enough to make you start looking at your watch because you’ve been on the same thing for more than two hours. There’s some effort at mood and suspense, although I did notice the tendency for the musical effects to waffle back and forth between horror-type sounds and those you might expect from a romantic drama. But, clearly, there were aims here to have elements of both, so I (kind of) get that.
For the times, the wolfman effects are pretty decent, although I do have questions as to why the first “wolfman” was a wolf until the camera was up close, then clearly a man, and the second wolfman was obviously a werewolf style wolfman. Despite that camera faux pas, I really dug the wolfman lore these guys created and it’s clear that others have borrowed from it extensively. Cursed did it most recently, but I’ve seen it in a few places, and Cheney’s wolfman was very, very obviously the inspiration for the classic Scooby episode with the werewolf.
I’m beginning to think that these monster flicks are the PERFECT way to introduce your kids to scary movies without having to worry about the gore and nudity that is so common in the genre today. If you haven’t seen this, even if you AREN’T a fan of modern horror or the old monster movies, this is very worth seeing.