A less-than sober Lon Chaney Jr., the Bavarian Mae West, Franken-Bela, cranky monster-weary villagers, the great weirdo Lionel Atwill, and a Universal battle for the ages.
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Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) is resurrected from his tomb by two snoopy grave robbers. As a result, people start disappearing and a bloodcurdling howl fills the night air. Ol’ furry eyes is back. Talbot wakes up in a hospital where a detective and a concerned doctor try to figure out who he is. They eventually track him down to Talbot’s old village and find a trail of blood leading to his miraculous reappearance. All Talbot wants to do is end his suffering and go die somewhere. Miami, maybe? So he escapes the hospital and searches Europe for the only person who could understand and help him, the old lady gypsy from the first movie. The old gypsy agrees to help him and suggest they contact a man with the secrets to the powers of death: Dr. Frankenstein. (Cue thunder and lightning). They arrive at Frankenstein’s favorite village to torment, Vasilia. There they are shunned and nearly run out of town on a rail, but just when they are on the right trail to catching up with the Doc, they discover he’s been dead for years. Talbot turns into the werewolf and is hunted down by the villagers. Later, he stumbles upon the hidden lair of the frozen monster (Bela Lugosi) and revives him, and the two form an awkward alliance. Talbot seeks out the doctor’s only living relative, the Baroness Frankenstein (silly-accented Ilona Massey) and begs for help. The monster attacks the city, and Talbot’s doctor has finally tracked him down. As the good doctor and the Baroness race against time to help both tortured souls seek peace, the townsfolk call out for their blood, setting the stage for the ultimate showdown between two of the greatest monster hams in Hollywood history. And Brother, that’s sayin’ a lot!
Like most horror crossovers, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man is an exciting treat for fans, and this one moves much quicker than the first Wolf Man film, and is just plain good fun. Chaney returns to the role that made him a star (maybe?) and reels in another anguished, tortured, and intense performance. Watching him made me very interested in reading his biography, given the scant knowledge I have of his alcohol-fueled downfall and sad end. Lugosi is spectacularly awful as the Monster, staggering around like a drunk guy at a Halloween party. But how can you hate that lovable bloodsucking Ed Wood-encouraging junkie? Seeing him stumble around like a third-grader zombie, I uselessly wished he would just scream out, “See, I told you I could do it better than that limey cocksucker!” By the time of this production, the original Universal monsters had probably lost their scariness, leading the way to their demise at the studio and run-ins with Abbott and Costello. But it’s got everything you’d want in an old fashioned monster movie: sci-fi doodads, a cute aristocratic chick, fat German creeps, spooky castle models, and a fast-paced adventure story.