Image via WikipediaTHE WOLFMAN (2010) on DVD Review
In the 1941 movie THE WOLF MAN, Lon Chaney, Jr. stood out as an original creature in Universal Studio’s Monster Movie pantheon. He went toe-to-toe with the likes of Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula, two characters that have long been in the public psyche thanks to their respected books by Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker.
Chaney’s continuous, almost overbearing, pathos was heart-wrenching. All they had to do was put him in full make up & hair and say, “Lon, go do you best impression of a german shepherd!” and he stole the show.
However, the 1941 film had two glaring problems:
First, the werewolf that bit Lawrence Talbot (Chaney) was an actual trained wolf (supposedly Bela Lugosi in animal form). The question then arises, “Why didn’t Talbot turn into that style of wolf?”
If he had, the movie would not have had the longevity it still does today.
Second, anytime the wolf-man would attack some poor schmoe wandering the moors on a full moon at one in the morning, the victim looked as if he only had ketchup spread about the mouth and forehead.
The other characters stood around and would breathlessly say, “That looks ghastly!”
No it didn’t.
It looked like some poor schmoe who had been wandering the moors on a full moon at one in the morning with ketchup spread about the mouth and forehead.
But still, the 1941 movie THE WOLF MAN was a fun, fun movie.
Fast forward to 2010 and Benicio Del Toro’s version of THE WOLFMAN (note the lack of space in the title) hits the theaters. It cleared up the two biggest problems from the first.
Del Toro’s version of Talbot was attacked by a similar wolf-man and thus turning Del Toro into a wolf-man.
Also, the gore was just fun and awesome.
If a person were to turn into a six to seven foot tall grizzly bear-like thing and attacked friends and neighbors, it would not be pretty.
Go ask Timothy Treadwell.
This is not a perfect movie. Anthony Hopkins, who plays Talbot’s crazy father, is not allowed to shine as much as he could have (but in his brief scenes he does). Same thing with Hugo Weaving. Weaving, who was phenomenal in V FOR VENDETTA, is more or less window dressing in this film.
The relationship between Del Toro and Gwen (Emily Blunt) is forced and Del Toro’s acting is straight out of Keanu “Whoa!” Reeves’ book.
But where director Joe Johnston succeeded was in bringing back the “wolfman” style werewolf into fashion. For years, the werewolf movie genre had been dominated by the “dog-headed man” (see any of the UNDERWORLD movies, VAN HELSING or the even underrated and awesome DOG SOLDIERS).
Johnston created a wonderful atmosphere of late 19th century England that could easily rival (my other favorite film of the last year) SHERLOCK HOLMES.
Considering this movie had its flaws, Johnston did direct THE ROCKETEER, OCTOBER SKY and the underrated JURASSIC PARK III, so I am looking forward to his CAPTAIN AMERICA.
THE WOLFMAN was just good old fashioned Hollywood monster movie fun. After having seen it in the theater, it was why I went out and bought it the first day it was available on DVD.
So should you.