Two iconic cinematic creatures go head to head in this classic Universal picture released in 1943. Lon Chaney, Jr. returns to play his memorable role as the Wolf Man, the role he first portrayed in Universal’s The Wolf Man, produced in 1941. Boris Karloff, the actor from the original Frankenstein did not return for this sequel. Instead, Bela Lugosi, famous from his portrayal as Dracula in Universal’s adaptation that was released in 1931, took on the daunting role of Frankenstein’s creature. Furthermore, Lugosi, fresh of his starring role in Dracula, was offered the role of the monster before Karloff in 1931, but turned it down. It is believed that he always regretted not accepting the role, and took on the task of playing the creature in this film as a form of redemption for himself, a second chance.
Anyways, back to the movie. This film is credited as being a sequel to both Frankenstein and the Wolf Man. There are some continuity errors, such as the same actors playing different roles, or location complications. However, the movie puts some effort into establishing this film in both universes of the original movies. The movie throws out the idea of Frankenstein being the scientist and just outright shows the creature being named Frankenstein. We can see this through the movie’s posters, depicting the Wolf Man and the monster battling it out, with the text “Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man” written just underneath them.
The idea of Frankenstein’s creation walking around with his arm stretched out is another iconic trait we associate with the monster. This type of movement was never mentioned in Mary Shelley’s novel, and was not demonstrated in the original 1931 Frankenstein. Its origins come from this film, in which the creature becomes blind and stretches its arms out to better orientate itself with the surrounding environment. Who would have thought such a recognizable trait has such bizarre origins, in which it comes from one of the many original movie’s sequels, and is a cause of a fire that occurred before a battle with the Wolf Man, at the start of the movie.
The movie itself is subpar when compared to the original Frankenstein or the Wolf Man. It’s hard to see the creature as threatening when Lugosi is behind the makeup, and not Karloff. The visual effects when the Wolf Man is transforming is very impressive for the time, in which Chaney would have to stay still for hours on end, as the makeup was gradually applied to his face. So, there are some visual treats for the viewers, but the story line can drag on during some points in the film. However, the payoff at the end is worth it, just to see these iconic monsters battle it out. Without spoiling the ending, I’ll just mention it will leave some viewers either satisfied or disappointed, depending on how you see these kinds of films. Overall, it was a solid entry in the Universal lineup.