Search this blog and The Mike's favorite blogs!

October 27, 2012

The Mike's Top 50 Horror Movies Countdown: #4 - The Wolf Man

Previously on the Countdown: Number 50 - Happy Birthday to Me  Number 49 - Prince of Darkness  Number 48 - House on Haunted Hill  Number 47 - The Monster Squad  Number 46 - Hellraiser  Number 45 - The Fog  Number 44 - Creature From the Black Lagoon  Number 43 - Zombie  Number 42 - Tales from the Crypt  Number 41 - Bubba Ho-Tep  Number 40 - Phantom of the Paradise  Number 39 - Dog Soldiers Number 38 - Pontypool  Number 37 - Dark Water  Number 36 - Army of Darkness Number 35 - The Legend of Hell House  Number 34 - Poltergeist  Number 33 - The Abominable Dr. Phibes  Number 32 - The Phantom of the Opera  Number 31 - The House of the Devil   Number 30 - Evil Dead II  Number 29 - Dead of Night  Number 28 - Carnival of Souls  Number 27 - Nosferatu  Number 26 - Candyman  Number 25 - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre  Number 24 - Horror of Dracula  Number 23 - The Wicker Man  Number 22 - Suspiria  Number 21 - The Omen  Number 20 - Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told  Number 19 - Rosemary's Baby  Number 18 - The Devil Rides Out  Number 17 - The Blob  Number 16 - Gremlins  Number 15 - Targets  Number 14 - Fright Night   Number 13 - Frankenstein  Number 12 - Alien  Number 11 - The Shining  Number 10 - An American Werewolf in London  Number 9 - The Thing  Number 8 - Dawn of the Dead  Number 7 - The Evil Dead  Number 6 - Night of the Living Dead  Number 5 - The Innocents
The Wolf Man
(1941, Dir. by George Waggner.)
Why It's Here:
Most people don't list The Wolf Man at the top of the list when it comes to Universal's "classic" monster movies.  I disagree with most people. I think I get too caught up in the tragic drama aspect of this film, because I really buy in to the whole father/son/tortured family thing that we get from Claude Rains and Lon Chaney, Jr. here. And Rick Pierce's magical makeup effects, transforming the lovable Chaney into a wonderfully creepy monster, are a thing of nightmares.

The Moment That Changes Everything:
I don't know much about Maria Ouspenskaya, but I want to give her great grandchildren a hug some day.  The actress who plays the gypsy fortune teller that explains the curse of the werewolf has pretty much the best delivery of an ominous warning in the history of cinema.  It feels so darn real, and sends chills down my spine.

It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
Speaking of Claude Rains and things that aren't at the forefront of the Universal Monsters discussion, let's talk about The Invisible Man.  It has the annoying comic relief of Una O'Conner, which is a problem, but it also has Rains eating up the scenery while occupying none of it.  These two movies are often lost in the shuffle when it comes to Universal Monsters, but both have a lot of drama and some fantastic special effects.

What It Means To Me:
There's not a scare to be found in The Wolf Man today, but it's the story behind this man-turned-wolf tale that represents everything I love about horror movies.  Some belittle the film and think I have it rated about a billion spots higher than it should be, but it's like comfort food to me.  I love the actors and the script and the effects, and that ending is just one of the all-time best "hammer your point home" moments ever. I'll never tire of The Wolf Man.


jervaise brooke hamster said...

Hey, The Mike, did you know that Oliver Reed was actually accused of molesting Cindy Hinds on the set of "The Brood" in 1978 but no charges were ever brought against him because of apparent lack of evidence.

Millie Gramm said...

The Wolf Man has always appealed to me, but it's never been about the effects. Never scared me even as a kid. It's the tragic nature of Lon Chaney Jr.'s character, either with his family or his circumstances. It shows in his face, through is eyes.

steve prefontaine said...

Millie is an incredibly gorgeous bird.

Millie Gramm said...

Nice to meet you, Steve :)

steve prefontaine said...

My pleasure little darlin`.

teddy crescendo said...

Millie, did you know that Lon Chaney Jr. had to drink half a bottle of whiskey whenever he arrived on the set in order to be able to act and say his lines ! ! !.

Millie Gramm said...

Teddy, I misread that as "half a gallon" thinking "jeebus!!!" :) I didn't know about his drinking until later on but I didn't know it was *that* bad. Explains how he could achieve such a mournful, tortured look. A hangover would work the same way, I suppose?