Frankenstein and the Wolf-Man dance and sing
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf-Man was released in 1943, setting a precedent for the almighty cash-grab in the form of the ensemble monster movie. This was Universal’s first chance to throw together more than one famous monster to capitalize on their popularity. This movie tries to be a European monster revival, like any aged Frankenstein movie, where the Monster is revived and goes to town. However, some grave robbers aren’t after Frankenstein’s Monster, but The Wolf-Man and his family, who died in the previous sequel. True to form, Lon Chaney as The Wolf-Man dispatches of these invaders and traipses out for the rest of the movie.
Lon Cheney Jr. is The Wolf-Man and he really delivers. As the movie continues, we can see that Cheney as Talbot, the unwitting Wolf-Man, is really frightened of his condition. He is committed to a hospital after falling unconscious in a nearby city. After he recovers, he goes seeking Frankenstein’s Monster in order to find a cure for his Wolf-ism, which really doesn’t make any sense to me, but it gets the two together.
It takes about forty minutes to set up the two to meet. Until then, Cheney as The Wolf-Man runs all over, scares people, dredges up a gypsy woman to help him, and defrosts The Monster. Lon Cheney sure is busy. The middle of the movie pales in comparison to the beginning and seems slow and overly long. To make matters worse, Bela Lugosi is a horrible Frankenstein’s monster, mostly because he was suffering from exhaustion and wasn’t actually in many of the scenes. Instead, stunt doubles took his place when Lugosi was absent from the set.
At one point, this movie takes a dive like a bird on fire. A five-minute musical number erupts in the middle of the movie for some reason and interrupts the tone of the movie like a bullet to the head. Cheney kicks the singer and drives him off, no doubt imitating the audience feeling. As the movie stumbles on, Cheney tries to bring some seriousness to his role, but the movie keeps interrupting him with stupid dancing or actors with bad accents. It’s really a shame.
Ilona Massey plays Baroness Frankenstein, the daughter of the deceased Doctor Frankenstein, and she doesn’t have much to do. She tries to assist Cheney as The Wolf-Man in finding a cure, but ends up as the usual damsel-in-distress. Fortunately, the ending delivers the quality that was missing from the middle of the movie. Another plus is the supporting cast, who have some dialogue for once. Maria Ouspenskaya plays the gypsy woman and has the most memorable of the supporting roles.
As is typical, the locals rise up and form an angry mob. One such discontent blows up a nearby dam and the water sweeps Castle Frankenstein away, along with The Monster and The Wolf-Man inside. Roll credits. All in all, this movie is a pretty shoddy outing for two great monsters, but only Lon Cheney stands out. This movie’s inconsistent quality comes down to a horrible middle section and Bela Lugosi, unfortunately.