Finally! Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman coming to DVD!
Robert Sickinger | Cincinnati, OH USA | 06/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Even a man who's pure in heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf, when the wolfbane blooms, and the moon is full and bright" I have been waiting for this movie to came out on Dvd, and it finally will arrive in August! Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman is one of the best horror movies from the classic Universal Monster series. It is the sequel to The Wolfman, and in my opinion is far better than the original. Once again it stars Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Wolfman, the only actor in the Universal series of horror movies to have originated and played the same monster in all his apperances. The movie starts out four years after the original Wolfman. Lawrence Talbot is brought back to life, and is not to happy about that. (he would rather have stayed dead!). He seeks out the gypsy woman from the first movie to help him with the curse. She can't help him, but takes him on a journey to find the one man who can...Dr. Frankenstein! This is the one sequel that does it right. It has all the ingredients- atmosphere, great story that keeps you entertained and never lets up, and characters that make the movie work. Lon Chaney has never portrayed the Wolfman better. In other movies where he played the monster he was always wandering around feeling sorry for himself and constantly saying how much he wanted to die. In this movie he is energetic and goes on a journey to cure himself and finds hope to get rid of the mark of the werewolf- therby making us care for his character and rooting for him along the way. The supporting cast of characters are great, with Bela Lugosi playing the Frankenstein monster for this one time and Maria Ouspenskaya returning as the gypsy woman Meliva. The movie is directed by Roy Willaim Neil, who directed many of the terrific Sherlock Holmes pictures starring Basil Rathbone. Also in the cast is Dennis Hoey, who played Inspector Lestrade from the Holmes movies. The atmosphere, suspense, and great acting make this one of my favorite Universal Movies. Hopefully, Universal will give this DVD the deluxe treatment, with commentary and behind the scenes, as it did with its previous dvd releases of the classic monsters.For all the monster fans, get ready for August when Universal releases its next batch of horror classics including Werewolf of London, the Dracula and Mummy sequels, and my other favorite: Abbott and Costello meet the Mummy!! I read elsewhere that Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman DVD will be a double feature with House of Frankenstein, which will make this a great deal for 2 great Universal pictures on one DVD! Do not pass this one up. Keep up the great work Universal!!"
Cheers AND Jeers for Universal
Woodland Drive | Chicago, IL United States | 10/05/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"CHEERS to Universal for their inspired decision to release a wave of their classic horror movies as double feature DVD's. The pairings make sense, reflecting the chronology of each series, and the double feature format harkens back to the old days of Saturday afternoons at the movies. However...JEERS also go out to Universal for lack of extras, lazy mistakes and questionable source material.Structurally, FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN has always been a mess. The plot contrivances, which bring the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's monster together, are a stretch, even by Universal's standards. The film also suffers from the woeful mis-casting of Bela Lugosi as the Frankenstein monster. Not only does Lugosi usher in the era of the monster as a lumbering, semi-blind oaf; the post-production decision by Universal to eliminate the monster's lines and reduce his scenes leaves the picture even more disjointed. (Yes, the monster, as filmed, spoke! Continuing the story line from the previous entry, "Ghost of Frankenstein," the monster's voice was that of Lugosi. The result in "Meets" was deemed unsatisfactory to Universal, so their solution was to simply eliminate Lugosi's audio track and cut scenes where they couldn't get away with an audio-only fix. Look closely and you'll still see scenes where the monster's mouth is moving, yet not a word is heard!) "Meets" also marks the point where the Frankenstein saga was overshadowed by that of Larry Talbot, the Wolf Man. From here on through the sequels, the monster is relegated to a supporting and, eventually, cameo role. As for the quality of FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN on DVD, Universal clearly expended little energy in finding the best print. The picture is intermittently dirty and scratchy. The "bonus material" is slim. We get the trailer, 7 short pages of anecdotes on the making of the film, and bios/filmographies on the principal actors. Particularly telling is that Lugosi's bio features a picture of his stunt double in the Frankenstein make-up, NOT Lugosi. HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN is the only instance in the original Universal Frankenstein series where the sequel is superior to the previous chapter. Boris Karloff makes a welcome return, this time as murderous mad scientist Dr. Niemann. Again, we're presented with a convoluted plot in order to gather Universal's resident monsters in one time and place. But, thanks mainly to Karloff and his hunchbacked assistant portrayed by J. Carrol Naish, we're treated to a depth of acting missing in the previous film. (On the minus side, John Carradine is laughable as Dracula, looking like a low-rent refugee from an escort service.)The print used here for "House" is better than that of "Meets." As for bonus material, it is identical to its disc-mate: trailer, 7 pages anecdotes, bios.While applause do go to Universal for their double feature program, this arrangement does leave the final installment in the original Frankenstein series without a partner, and thus, un-released on DVD. As Universal considers the fate of "House of Dracula," I'd like to nominate another Lon Chaney Jr./Lionel Atwill vehicle of the same period as the second half of a double-bill, namely "Man Made Monster." Universal - are you reading this?"
Some details and positive comments for 'House of Frankenstei
Patrick W. Crabtree | Lucasville, OH USA | 09/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just wanted to drop in here and express my sincere enthusiasm for "House of Frankenstein," which is one of the two films on this DVD.
Director Erle (not a typo!) C. Kenton went all out on this 1944 black-and-white film to present a Frankenstein movie which all horror fans could embrace, regardless of their preference for a particular monster. Here, we get Dracula (John Carradine), Lawrence Talbot/The Wolfman (Lon Chaney, Jr.), and Frankenstein himself (Glenn Strange)!
As if that were not enough, this cake is superbly iced with Boris Karloff (as the chief protagonist, Doctor Niemann), the lovely Anne Gwynn (Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe - The Complete Saturday Morning Serial), George Zucco (playing the snake oil sideshow man, Doctor Lampini), Lionel Atwill (cast as Arnz), and J. Carrol Naish (Dr. Renault's Secret) as Daniel, Niemann's hunch-backed, Igor-like assistant! In addition to the monsters, we get a band of Gypsies, hateable monster-victims, and Doctor Lampini's (Zucco) cool sideshow of the Dracula remains.
THE STORY (Warning! Spoilers ahead!): Doctor Niemann and Daniel escape prison when a lightning bolt explodes the wall of their cells. Niemann has promised the hunch-backed Daniel that he'll give him a new body if only they can locate the original Baron Frankenstein's journal and scientific notes. With that endeavor in mind, they soon fall upon the lamentable Doctor Lampini and take over his sideshow as Niemann has a little vengeance in mind against those who had him imprisoned, prior to setting out in search of Baron Frankenstein's notes.
It's lucky that Lampini's wagon contained the remains of Dracula because Niemann removed the wooden stake which kept him dead in his casket and then utilized the vampire to kill one of Niemann's former antagonists. Unfortunately for Dracula, the authorities catch on fast and they pursue him until the sun rises... and you know what that means for Dracula! Niemann has also fled the town, just ahead of Dracula in a double-cross (pun intended), and at the next village Daniel rescues a Gypsy girl from her brutal shill. They're all run out of this village too but Niemann doesn't care a whit because the remnants of Baron Frankenstein's castle are quite nearby.
Once in the ruins of the old estate, Daniel inadvertently discovers both the Frankenstein Monster and The Wolfman in an ice cave (great effects!), deep under the castle. Niemann commences retrieval of the two and as the ice melts away from The Wolfman, he changes back into the unfortunate Lawrence Talbot who luckily knows just where to dig out Baron Frankenstein's journal. Niemann promises to replace Talbot's brain (with that of one of his local enemies) in return for his assistance in traveling to his own decrepit estate; meanwhile, Daniel has fallen for the Gypsy girl but the latter falls in love with Talbot, a ménage-à-trois which leads to big complications.
Niemann is gratified in seeing a couple more of his former antagonists done in (thank you, Mr. Wolfman!) as he sets to work on re-animating the Frankenstein Monster in his home laboratory, much to the frustration of both Talbot and Daniel who each wanted THEIR problems dealt with first. I absolutely must stop there to avoid telling the end of the movie but rest assured that it's as good as the body of the film.
The filmscore/soundtrack for this one is terrific (and appropriate) and was generated by a number of competent folks: Hans J. Salter, musical director; Paul Dessau, composer; Charles Previn, composer; Max Rapp, composer; Milton Rosen, composer, and; Frank Skinner, composer. All except for Salter went uncredited. Special effects were brilliantly handled by John P. Fulton. The aspect ratio is 1.37:1 (full-frame) and the entire movie was filmed at Universal Studios in California.
As this is a Universal Films production there was a fairly good budget established for it, but "Kharis the Mummy" was ultimately excised from the script due to a lack of available funds. Bela Lugosi was also slated to have played Dracula but Universal's producers were displeased with his most recent performance for them as The Frankenstein Monster in Frankenstein Meets Wolfman. "The House of Frankenstein" isn't perfect as there are a few silly boners, the most prevalent of which is when Larry Talbot (Chaney) transforms into the Wolf Man for the final time, his hands aren't made up. The astute viewer can spot this just before he crashes through the glass door. Also, while not really a goof, no member of "Baron Frankenstein's family" (the Monster excepted!) ever appears in this film!
If I have a problem at all with this film it's only that I wish George Zucco's role as Doctor Lampini would have played out just a little longer before Daniel (Naish) strangled him to death. I'm Zucco's biggest fan on the planet (see my Amazon Listmania list: "George Zucco... almost live!!!") and I think that they could have carried him in the story for a bit longer. But we can't have everything.
In summary, this 71-minute treasure exudes mega-action and the filmscore/soundtrack has become quite renowned: House of Frankenstein, a rare actuality for an older horror movie. You'll also see one of the better vampire transformations (from man to bat and vice-versa) ever filmed in one of these older horror flicks. Unfortunately, "House of Frankenstein" is not available by itself on a single DVD so you either get this one or: Frankenstein - The Legacy Collection (Frankenstein / Bride of / Son of / Ghost of / House of).
I highly recommend this fine old horror film to appropriate viewers."
A couple of notches below the previous films...
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 09/29/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"First both these films are campy fun. I grew up watching both of these films pretty regularly on Creature Features. It was a natural transition for Bela Lugosi to play the monster in FMWM due to the ending of Ghost of Frankenstein. It's not a terrible film just not all that well written which is a surprise given that the scribe was Curt Sidomak (Donovan's Brain and a number of minor science fiction classics). Earle Kenton's direction is stylisth given the budget limitations. The problem in the film is more with the self pitying Larry Talbot. As written Lon Chaney, Jnr. is given little more to do than wallow in self pity. Sure, he's a wolf man at night and usually has to change clothes after every full moon (they rip apart as he changes) but come on! Anyhow, Lugosi plays the Monster as a lumbering idiot (if the dialog hadn't been trimed his portrayal might have been a bit better). It's ironic that Lugosi ended up playing the role as his star was fading since he turned it down originally. It made Boris Karloff a star. The rest of the cast ranges from weak to competant. This isn't the best in the series but it has a number of entertaining moments. Reportedly, Glenn Strange actually played the Monster in many of the long shots as Lugosi wasn't up to the task. House of Frankenstein promised much more than it delivered but still has a number of bright spots. First, there's Karloff. Although he doesn't play the Monster (he's an escaped criminal/scientist), he's given plenty of scenery to chew. His performance is one of the best in the picture. Lon Chaney, Jnr. returns and for good measure Dracula shows up as well. There is a law of dimishing returns when it comes to monsters or villians (we'll call it wtdk's Monster/villian law-- for an example look at the last two Batman films).I have to agree that John Carradine doesn't do the part of Dracula justice. He just isn't convincing (nor was Lon Chaney, Jnr. when he played the role in Son of Dracula. His delivery was always stiff and deliberate but was exceedingly bad in that film). Carradine would reprise the role in House of Dracula the following year. It's no surprise that the DVD doesn't have a lot of extras. While both films are solid and entertaining on their own, they're far from classics in the series. Due to the age of the film, it's unlikely that a lot survived in the way of outtakes or alternative endings (both films were shot on volatile nitrate stock). If you're looking for classics stick with Whale's Bride and Lee's Son of Frankenstein. If you're looking for a fun, inoffensive time by all means pick these up."
The Wolfman parts 2 and 3
shaxper | Lakewood, OH | 07/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you're looking for a good "Monster Mash" film, then you may find both of the films contained within to be a bit disappointing. While the team-up aspect of both films is what they're best remembered for, they aren't really at the heart of these stories.
"FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN" is absolutely a Wolfman film. Continuing several years after the events of the first Wolfman installment, Larry Talbot is back and taking on some strong, emotionally rich character development. Unfortunately, the Frankenstein aspect of the film is superbly disappointing. First of all, the plot depends upon yet another offspring of Henry Frankenstein, who is alternately referred to as his daughter and granddaughter throughout the film. In much the same way, previous Frankenstein continuity is alternatively adhered to and outright ignored throughout the film. For example, the monster doesn't have Ygor's brain, but the previous Dr. Frankenstein's sanitarium was burnt down by the villagers (both incidents occurred in the previous Frankenstein installment, "Ghost of Frankenstein," yet only one is acknowledged here). The entire Frankenstein aspect of this film seems almost incidental, with the creature holding more importance as an object of curiosity than an actual character. This is probably a good thing, though, since Bela Lugosi plays the worst Frankenstein monster I've ever seen. Finally, the end of the film comes out of nowhere and leaves nothing resolved. Considering all the more thorough ways in which both the Wolfman and the monster have been killed in previous films, I don't think an over-flowing river rushing through the castle is going to do much more than leave them needing a change of clothes.
"HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN," the second film in this collection, is a surprisingly excellent installment. Boris Karloff is brilliant as the mad scientist, J Carrol Naish plays a stunningly sympathetic hunchback, and the writing and directing are both truly memorable. However, like "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman," this is not the team-up film it claims to be. A terribly executed Dracula appears in the first 30 minutes of the film (which are entirely irrelevant to the rest of the story), and the Frankenstein monster is literally animated in the last ninety seconds of the film. Beyond that, this is clearly yet another Wolfman movie, continuing directly from "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman." Like the previous film, it spends most of its running time and dramatic focus on Larry Talbot (The Wolfman) and does a tremendous amount to build upon and enrich his story in amazing ways, but it does not do the same for Dracula or the monster, both of whom seem tacked on without any artistic considerations, included merely for advertising purposes. It's saddening to consider how Karloff must have felt watching his legacy tarnish before his very eyes.
What distinguishes The Wolfman from any other Universal Monster is how thoroughly his character and conflict are developed across each of his sequels, unlike the other Universal monster franchises, which are often disjointed, uneven in quality, and seemingly produced with no inspiration beyond the desire to pump a few more dollars out of a character concept. In these films, we can clearly see Larry Talbot transform beyond the frightened kid in "The Wolfman" to a desperate man on the verge of madness in "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman," and finally to a mature semi-hero, resigned to his own death in "House of Frankenstein." These are great Wolfman films, but the presence of other monsters in these films is more intrusive and obligatory than worthwhile. If you want a good monster mash, then I suggest checking out Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein instead."