Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Flim #6: The Wolf Man (1941)

We all have a little animal in us.
A side glace at Nick’s back, and you’d swear he was a black bear.
With Chris, there isn’t a dry fire hydrant in the city of Chicago. Hey, when nature calls
But the RDHP gots nuthin’ on poor Larry Talbot, the tortured soul at the center of the 1941 Universal Studios classic monster flick “The Wolf Man.”

Prodigal son Larry returns to his homeland in middle Europe after 18 years in the bawdy States. His family, the Talbots, are big-wigs in the village with a fancy castle and creepy portraits on the wall. While playing with his father’s new telescope, he spies a fetching young woman named Gwen in the town’s antique shop. He can’t keep his telescopic-eye off her, the peeping tom pervert, and decides to step away from the telescope and visit her in person. She’s engaged, but the little tramp is so charmed by Larry that they make a chaperoned date to visit a gypsy fortune teller.

Jenny the chaperone goes first for her reading so Larry can try and suck some face with Gwen. During the reading, the gypsy flips his shit, and the full moon drives him to hunt down a screaming Jenny the chaperone. Larry runs to her rescue, but soon realizes it isn’t a man attacking Jenny, but a huge wolf. Larry kills the wolf, but during the fight gets bit on the chest. Well, you guessed it, he is fuc*ed. When the coppers arrive, they find not a wolf but the fortune teller dead on the ground! But Larry swears he wrestled with a wolf! Dun-dun-DAAAAAAAA!

Larry soon starts to exhibit some wolf-like behavior, and learns from the fortune teller’s mother that he is now cursed with the same affliction as her son… the curse of the WEREWOLF.
Being a practical man, Larry can’t decide: is he truly afflicted with the ancient doggy curse, or is it just all inside his fragile little head.
Things start to get hairy as Larry embraces his inner animal in the 1941 classic howler “The Wolf Man.”

The Low-Down:
Let’s be honest here. It may be a classic, but Wolf Man is truly a 1940s popcorn flick. Don’t let that turn you off, this one is several hairy hands and feet above todays “strictly for entertainment” wolf-crap fests that fill theaters every few summers (We’re looking at you Twi-tard: New Moon).

What it lacks in brains, the film makes up with heart. The subplot of Larry and Gwen’s star-crossed love is filled with charming dialog and heart-thumping glances. The scenery of the haunted forest known to hold the wolf-man is just the right mix of classic creepy and cinematically beautiful. The special effects are tame by today's standards, but freaked the hell out of 1941 folk. Still, it is fun to watch the wolfy-transformation, and you just gotta love those wolf feet!

The story moves along at a blazing pace, necessary since this film is only 70 minutes long. Its brevity adds to its charm. There are no slow sections, no room to question the premise of a man turning into a wolf. It keeps the fun at full throttle till the unusually depressing (for its time) end.

Just because the film isn’t brainy doesn’t mean it is brainless. The Wolf Man gives you something to think about as well. Larry continually questions whether he is merely imagining he is a werewolf, or if he is indeed physically transforming into a beast. The film comments on the various quagmires that can take hold of the mind. Can a man become a werewolf through thought alone? Should a practical man, one who believes firmly in science, trust in the old country’s gypsy superstitions?

Sure, it’s not much to think about… but at least it throws the mind a soup bone.
True, there are no shirtless, abed-out squish-faced Taylor Lautners in this werewolf flick.
But that fact alone makes this work even more classic.

RDHP Ratings:
C-rating: 4.9
Chris Dimick howls: “Of all the Universal Studios classic horror movies, this is by far my favorite. Better than Dracula. Better than Frankenstein. Better than The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The Wolf Man is just such a fun and endearing movie. The dialog between the characters is witty and quick-paced. The creepy forest setting is delightfully hokey, and Lon Chaney Jr. is great as a ladies’ man turned wolf-creeper.
But I think the thing I love best about this movie is just the premise of the werewolf. What an awesome monster, and a truly horrifying thing to imagine. Anyone can become a werewolf. Pet the wrong snarling dog, and BAM, you are forced to spend your full moons running around pants less and tearing out the throats of random townies. What is terrifying about becoming a werewolf is not just the painful transformation into the beast; it is having to deal with your secret shame once you become human again. During your normal periods, you are psychologically tortured and must dwell on your murderous affliction.
The werewolf monster is really a commentary on the beast within us all. Even if you hate older movies, watch this one. You will enjoy yourself.”

N-rating: 2.7
Nick Rich howls: "Awooooooooo! You may be wondering why I rated this film so low, especially when Chris rated it so high... well let me tell you: the film itself didn't impress me. I loved the idea of it, I loved heatedly talking about it with Chris, shucks I even liked the weird coincidences that happened to me afterward (i.e. noticing that there was almost a full moon the night of the viewing as I was walking home while a random homeless man howled at it. I informed him that I just watched The Wolfman, he smiled and said we could be Wolfmen ourselves (in reference to our beards.)) but as for the movie itself... it was average. The thing I found most memorable about it was the leading lady's wardrobe and the Wolfman's feet (in that order)! Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the film for the most part, especially viewing it with someone as enthusiastic as Chris, but in the scope of the RDHP I felt I had to rate it accordingly. This movie is great for what it is (a popcorn flick) but thanks to our viewing schedule I've been waned from milk to meat - and The Wolfman just didn't have enough bite. The Skinny: watch The Wolfman if you're in the mood for a no-brainer flick where you can let loose Mystery Science Theater 3000 style.

Poem of the Viewing:
Even a man who is pure in heart,
And says his prayers by night,
May become a wolf,
When the wolfbane blooms,
And the autumn moon is bright.

Quote of the Viewing:
[Scene: Gwen’s friend Jenny unexpectedly comes along as a chaperone on Gwen’s date with Larry]
Nick: What is that called when another woman does that… comes along on a date?
Chris: I think it’s called a three-some.

Today’s Stupid, Sexist Wolf Man Joke:
Living with the Wolf Man:
The Wolf Man comes home one day from a long day at the office. "How was work, dear?" his wife asks.
"Listen! I don't want to talk about work!" he shouts.
"Okay. Would you like to sit down and eat a nice home cooked meal?" she asks nicely.
"Listen!" he shouts again. "I'm not hungry! I don't wanna eat! All right! Is that all right with you? Can I come home from work and just do my own thing without you forcing food down my throat? Huh?"
At that moment, the wolf man starts growling and throwing things around the apartment in a mad rage.
Looking out the window, his wife sees a full moon and says to herself, "Well, I guess it's that time of the month."

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