October 16, 2012

The Wolf Man

The Wolf Man (1941) is a straightforward horror fable, starring Lon Chaney, Jr. in the titular role. As a human, he plays Larry Talbot, returning home to Wales after nearly twenty years away so he can eventually take over the family estate, currently presided over by his subtly domineering father (Claude Rains). Larry meets a girl named Gwen (Evelyn Ankers) and while the two of them are out walking one night, he's bitten by a werewolf (played by Bela Lugosi) and then finds himself turning into one as well. The real charm here is the spooky atmosphere: there's more fog here than in John Carpenter's 1980 film called The Fog. And the sets have an old-movie charm to them: it's obviously unreal, but also very enchanting as a result. This isn't likely to scare many people nowadays, but it's an enjoyably compact horror classic, and of course it spawned a long list of sequels, remakes, and spin-offs. Directed by George Waggner. Written by Curt Siodmak. With Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, and Maria Ouspenskaya. 69 mins. b & w

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