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THE WOLF MAN (1941) has Lon Chaney returning to father Claude Rains’ ancestral English mansion only to end up turning werewolf after an encounter with accursed gypsy Bela Lugosi. The cast is much stronger than I realized watching as a pre-teen—Ralph Bellamy as the local cop, Evelyn Ankers as a pretty girl, Warren Williamas as the town doctor, Maria Ouspenskaya as Lugosi’s mother and Curt Siodmak writing the script. The film’s plot oddities (Lugosi is a full wolf but Chaney becomes a bipedal wolfman) may be because it underwent a heavy rewrite two weeks before shooting: The original concept had been that we’d never know for sure whether Chaney’s change was real or hallucinatory (which explains all the psychobabble from Williams). Stylistically closer to Ghost of Frankenstein‘s talky drama than the Gothic sweep of Frankenstein and Dracula, but good nonetheless, with Chaney giving one of his two best performances (Of Mice and Men being the other). “The way you walked was thorny through no fault of your own.”
FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN (1943) was the sequel to both The Wolfman and Ghost of Frankenstein, as graverobbers unwittingly open Lon Chaney’s crypt under a full moon (Bad Idea!), after which Chaney sets off with Ouspenskaya in hopes Frankenstein’s research will provide a way for him to die forever—instead of which, he winds up in a climactic clash with the Creature (Bela Lugosi). Noteworthy as the point in the series where resurrecting the creature became a non-family enterprise (Chaney’s psychiatrist is the first of several non-Frankensteins reactivating the monster) and as the first in a long history of Monster Battles Monster films (though I don’t doubt we’d have seen most of the later ones anyway). Also of note is that this blurs the past continuity so that everyone refers to Cedric Hardwicke as if he were the Creature’s creator. Entertaining, if nothing more; Ilona Massey plays Frankenstein’s daughter and Lionel Atwill is the local mayor. “I’ve got to see Frankenstein’s creature at it’s full power!”
A couple of films from a local horror festival … (next year TYG and I hope to see the whole sequence)
THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS (2012) is from the same HPL fan group that did a silent CALL OF CTHULHU a few years back, this time creating a 1930s-style thriller (pretty well, since TYG assumed it was a genuine oldie until she saw CGI in the credits). Due to the limits of the original story (concerning weird aliens establishing a beachhead in Vermont) this has to be a much less faithful adaptation: That said, not bad, though it could have been a lot better (adapting more of Akeley’s initial letters would have been more effective I think).“The gate isn’t for them to leave—it’s to bring more of them here.”
ABSENTIA (2012) has a woman reassuring herself that those visions of her seven-years-gone husband are a perfectly natural emotional reaction to finally declaring him dead, and that her sister’s Strange Hallucinations of sinister creatures keeping him and other people prisoner in a nearby footpath tunnel are just signs she’s gone back on drugs … right? A nicely done creeper. “Did you see her eyes?”

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