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.