Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Werewolf of London (1935)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Director: Stuart Walker
Starring: Henry Hull, Walker Oland, Valerie Hobson
Rated: Not Rated
Genre: Horror
Runtime: 75 minutes

Dr. Glendon (Hull) is a botanist travelling through Tibet in search of a rare flower that only grows when under the light of the moon.  After ignoring the pleas of the peasants to avoid a certain mountain top which is believed to be guarded by demons, Glendon finds his flower, and is attacked by a wolf-like creature which bites his arm.  Upon returning to London, he makes the acquaintance of Dr. Yogami (Oland), who claims to have made his acquaintance one night in Tibet (although Glendon does not recall their meeting).  Yogami warns Glendon about the curse of the werewolf, and tells him that the strange flower that he found in the mountains is the only antidote.  Glendon ignores him, having far more issues to deal with.  First, he cannot get the strange flower to bloom.  Second his wife has recently become reacquainted with her childhood sweetheart.

Those of you who have been reading my blog recently will know that I really love classic horror films.  Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy...I can't get enough of them!  My favorite monster has always been the werewolf, though.  I've always been fascinated by the thought that in so many myths and legends, it is believed that a man can be turned into a wolf.  Besides that, I've always found werewolves to be the most human of the monsters.  True, they change into evil beasts with fur and fangs, but unlike Dracula and his vampiric brood, werewolves do not choose to act out the way they do.  For this reason, Dracula is evil, whereas Larry Talbot (The Wolf Man) is not.

Werewolf of London is rather different from the werewolf movies Universal horror fans have to expect after watching films such as The Wolf Man, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, or Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein.  The most notable difference is the fact that while The Wolf Man series is about the supernatural, Werewolf of London focuses more on the scientific aspects of lycanthropy.  For example, Dr. Glendon is able to use a plant to ward off his symptoms, while Larry Talbot has to use a medallion.  Also, for an added twist, the victims of werewolf attacks are not always random, but the beast will attack whatever matters the most to him.  In this case, Glendon's wife, Lisa (Hobson).  And to make matters worse, not only does his wolf-self want to kill his wife, but he cannot use the flower's juice for an antidote, because someone is stealing the blooms from the laboratory!

I think the funniest part of this film had to be the transformations.  Not only does he grow fur and fangs (and it does look really cool), but before running out of the house to go and rip some throats out, he makes sure to stop at the coat rack and bundle up.  And yes, that means hat, coat, and a scarf!  What??  Furthermore, the ending (even though I'm sure it was supposed to be depressing or emotional) made me simply laugh out loud. I'm not going to tell you what happens, but I thought it was pretty funny, simply because it was so unrealistic.

All in all, a decent movie.  Not the best I've seen from the werewolf canon, or Universal horror films, but entertaining nonetheless.

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