Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Fay Helm, Maria Ouspenskay and Bela Lugosi

George Wagner

Running Time:
70 mins

"I'm a werewolf"

Larry Talbot

Returning home to England Larry Talbot (Chaney) tries to make amends with his father Sir John Talbot (Rains) after the accidental death of his brother. Trying to get back into the swing of things Larry meets local girl Gwen (Ankers) who invites him to the gypsy festival in the village with her friend Jenny (Helm). While Jenny is getting her fortune told Larry and Gwen take a walk in the woods only to hear a scream. Larry runs to investigate and finds Jenny been attacked by what looks like a wolf. He hits the creature with his sliver cane but not before the beast manages to bite him. Injured he staggers home only to awake the next morning to be questioned by the police over Jenny's and the fortune teller's (Lugosi) death. Confused Larry talks to an old gypsy woman who tells him that it was a werewolf that attacked him and at he is destined to become a beast as well.

If you thought that the myth of the werewolf was bought about through legend and superstition you'd be wrong. The movie werewolf that we know was invented by Universal Pictures in 1941.

The man credited with concocting everything we associate with the werewolf, transforming during the moon, can only be killed by silver etc is screenwriter Curt Siodmak. He fleshed out the werewolf myth and made it what it is today with hundreds of films and books following his doctrine.

Universal was the monster movie factory of its day. After runaway successes of Frankenstein and Dracula, a new horror icon came in the form of Lon Chaney Jr's Wolf Man. He was different to your usual creature because while he is deadly there is an air of tragedy about him. The man who turns into the beast has no control over its actions and can't remember anything that he have done while under its influence. This made the person inside the werewolf a victim as well.

The tragic feel of the story is brought across well by the performance of Lon Chaney Jr. While he does act in the typical grandiose style of the 1940s, you have a lot of sympathy for his character as he battles with his own mind. Is he werewolf or is it just a figment of his own imagination?

The support is also good. Claude Rains brings class to the production as Larry's father Sir John Talbot. He was also no stranger to horror movies after appearing The Invisible Man in 1933. Evelyn Ankers provides the screams as love interest Gwen. Maria Ouspenskay almost steals the show as mysterious gypsy Maleva. She is Larry's conscience and the bearer of the truth about his condition. Bela Lugosi appears as the original werewolf in his token horror appearance.

Makeup artist Jack Pierce did an excellent job with Chaney's transformation, if you remember this was when the craft was in its infancy. You have to question that fact that part of Chaney becoming the wolf man was changing his shirt from a white to a black one. This aside it still set a new standard at the time.

The Wolf Man's tragic story is the movie's tour-de-force. It might be filled with typical, over the top acting that plagued this genre in the period but you have to applaud the bleakness of the plot and the finale, as this is nothing you'd expect from the movies of the time.


Presented in Full Screen 4:3 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono soundtrack, the transfer is good if you take into account how old the film actually is. The picture is very clear with a few scratches here and there and the sound quality is good throughout for a mono track, accentuating the dialogue and the excellent music.


Commentary from Tom Weaver
Noted film researcher, historian and author of "Universal Horrors" Tom Weaver provides an insightful and extremely interesting commentary for the movie. He reveals casting and behind the scenes secrets about the film such as the original title was Destiny and the film only took three weeks to make.

Monster by Moonlight: An original documentary (32.36 mins)
"An American Werewolf in London" director John Landis takes you back to the heyday of the monster movie at Universal as introduces you to The Wolf Man. The informative documentary reveals the stories behind the making of the movie and what inspired it. Special effects wizard Rick Baker talks about the work of pioneering makeup artist Jack Pierce and it takes a look at the sequels that stared Lon Chaney Jr.

The Wolf Man Archives (6.42 mins)
Watch a montage of posters and publicity shots accompanied by the haunting music from the film. Theatrical Trailer Your chance to watch the original trailer from 1941.


An excellent old school horror hit becomes a great DVD for avid collectors of the genre. The documentary is very good and the excellent commentary by Tom Weaver only adds to the value. This is a well put together package but I would have liked to have known more about the Universal Monster phenomenon.


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