Genre Pictures I

film 3 of 3

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 29, 2015

The title sounds pretty bargain basement, doesn’t it? Maybe it suggests or anticipates an Abbott and Costello spoof, which was the kind of thing that could indicate genre exhaustion, or at least that some genre strain had played itself out.

It’s definitely true that horror (gangster, musical, etc.) motifs rose, thrived and petered out. That’s definitely true of the classic movie monsters, which had been inaugurated by Dracula 1930 and Frankenstein 1931. But we shouldn’t be too hasty to relegate. For instance, watch this film’s really spectacular opening sequence. Yes, the situation—grave robbers, up to no good, about to uncover and unleash a malevolence that positively dwarfs, and then annihilates their own paltry dishonour—is familiar to the point of being boring. Except when you notice how skillfully, how beautifully this over-familiar situation is being staged. And suddenly, while you’re admiring how well they do it, darned if you don’t find yourself feeling a certain something. It’s a horror film!

Director Roy William Neill, who is far from being solely responsible for all of this great stuff, would go on to do tons of good, hard, friendly and broadly beneficial work on the Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock Holmes films, produced at Universal Studios. I like art as much as the next guy. But work, that’s something else altogether, isn’t it?