James Rolfe: Here we go! It's Cinemassacre's "Monster Madness", kicking ass through the ages of the horror genre and I got a good one for you today and it's gonna be a howl. It's "The Wolf Man" from 1941. The Wolf Man was played by Lon Chaney Jr., following the footsteps of his father 'the man of a of a thousand faces'. Originally the movie was meant to be all psychological like we never actually see the werewolf. We're not supposed to know wether or not he's really turning into a wolf or if he's just losing his mind.
Lawrence Talbot: …they're treating me like I was crazy!
James: But to make a bigger buck it was eventually decided to just show the werewolf. Two things you'd expect to see from a werewolf movie is a good transformation sequence and a shot of the full moon – you don't get either and there's lots of weird continuity issues. But where this movie shines is in its creepy atmosphere, foggy streets and forest and some classic dialogue.
Gypsy Woman: Go now… and Heaven help you.
James: The music is great. And doesn't this sound like Danny Elfman's "Batman" score?
(Music from "The Wolf Man" is playing while the Batman logo slowly appears onscreen)
James: And Chaney's performance as both Lawrence Talbot and the Wolf Man is extraordinary. What I like about this movie is that it's about the beast within. It's not like "Dracula" or "Frankenstein" – the Wolf Man is just a regular guy with an animal inside.
Because of this movie Lon Chaney Jr. quickly became the biggest horror star of the 1940's and throughout various sequels to many films ended up playing Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy three times, Alucard the son of Dracula and the Wolf Man four more times. "Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man" put the two monsters together in a battle to the death. Ironically the Monster was played by Bela Lugosi – a decade after he first turned down the role. When this proved to be a smash hit Universal brought Dracula into the mix and the monster mash franchise was born. The Wolf Man, Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster appeared in three films together, often with mad doctors, hunchbacks, over the top comic book style storylines and two of the greatest comedians of all time, Abbott and Costello.
Lou Costello (trying to prevent Frankenstein's Monster from getting pass the door): Barricade him! He can't get in here! (The Monster unexpectedly opens the door the other way) Aaaargh!?!
James: One trademark that finally came into play was the werewolf transformation effects. Chaney would have to stay still for hours and hours while the makeup was gradually applied to his face. That's stop-motion, baby – that's old-school. "The Wolf Man" is a great chiller and the sequels are good fun. Check them out, though grow some hair on your balls.