23 October 2012

beware of dog.

33. The Wolf Man (1941)

Lon Chaney Jr. was kind of a big, greasy dope. Somehow in The Wolf Man, we are expected to believe that he's Claude Rains' son. Interesting genetic mutation going on there—or maybe the dead mother is the missing link? Maybe she was Anne Ramsey from Throw Momma from the Train. Whatever the case may be, Chaney's character Larry Talbot is really a creep—I mean, even before he turns into a wolf. He spies on the neighbor in her bedroom using a telescope and then accosts her in her place of business with intimate details about her jewelry. (Yeah, that's weird.) Not content with merely being passively creepy, Talbot bullies the woman into going out with him—even though she's engaged to be married and clearly not interested. Who needs the Wolf Man? You've got enough material for a Lifetime World Premiere Movie already... I'm seeing an Alan Thicke type in the sexual predator role, opposite Daphne Zuniga—or a reasonable facsimile thereof. 

But we're not supposed to get caught up in Talbot's unlikability as a human because he still has to lycanthropomorphize—is that a word?—into a werewolf. This isn't a story about just another a guy who gets his jollies from spying on the dame across the street as she takes off her earrings—this is a story about a Wolf Man!

No, not that Wolf Man. The kind who lives the aristocratic life of the 1% by day and the life of a butt-licking canine by night. 

Do people think werewolves are scary? I'm not saying they can't be central to an interesting story—but does the thought of them frighten anybody? It's difficult to conceive of. Especially since this particular Wolf Man bears a striking resemblance to actor Tony Roberts.

There's no getting around it. These classic Universal horror movies are basically a bunch of malarkey. They're often awkward, creaky, and unintentionally funny—but The Wolf Man was entertaining, nevertheless. They're comforting in the same way that reruns of Love, American Style were when I was home sick from school. They're celluloid security blankets, in other words... Nobody ever claimed a blanket was great art, but it sure is cozy when you're in the right mood.


  1. Do people think werewolves are scary?

    Not one bit.

  2. I have nothing to say about this blog post mostly because I've never even heard of The Wolf Man. So I will change the subject entirely.

    Some of your blog titles have been very witty, and yet this has gone unacknowledged. Here is a compilation of some of my favorite Kowalski bog titles:

    1. Nocturnal Transmission
    2. Aaron Spelling Baked My Madeleine
    3. David vs. David
    4. Shirts vs. Skins
    5. Pass the Garlic
    6. Have Yourself a Racist Little Christmas
    7. Blogito, Ergo Sum
    8. Beelzebukkake
    9. A Scarcity of Wirgins
    10. Me and My Uvula (because 'uvula' is a funny word)

    Keep up the good work!

    1. I meant blog titles, not bog titles.

    2. Thanks, Morais. ('Blogito, Ergo Sum' is my personal favorite.)

      But don't you like the titles I give to bogs? My bog naming skills are pretty top notch.

    3. Perhaps I've been spending too much time on bogs lately.

  3. Werewolves are hard to take seriously. I think American Werewolf In London got it right, going for a dark comedy instead of trying to play werewolves as serious. Jack Nicholson was in a werewolf movie which seemed like it was trying to play it serious for the first 2/3 or so, but just kind of broke down into cheap laughs, like a guy trying to be deadpan funny, but who can't help from cracking up and giving away the joke.

    1. I haven't seen American Werewolf in London in ages... I should revisit.

    2. I saw it again recently, and I can tell you there is no need to revisit.

  4. Hey! Back off werewolves! I think they're the scariest of the classical monsters. (Zombies might be scarier, if I wasn't already acclimated to them by having lived amongst them my entire life.)

    1. Scariest? I think that Bakersfield air is finally getting to you...

    2. What's scarier?

      Vampires? Pffft. I know how to handle myself around old queens. Mummies? Zombies with an accent. Frankenstein's Monster? A more vulgar Boo Radley. Ghosts? Gimme a break. The Creature from the Black Lagoon? Too long a name to even hold my interest, plus he swims in his own feces.

      No. Werewolves, man. Besides, I relate to running around and begging people to lock you up because you're going to do something horrible.

      And American Werewolf in London is one of my favorite movies, horror or otherwise. I think I stated that somewhere else on your blog, but it bears repeating.

    3. Are you afraid of dogs?

      I guess I don't think monsters are scary.

      Evil spirits, demonic forces, and serial killers are scary, but vampires, werewolves, zombies...? Not so much.

    4. No! I agree, all of those things ARE genuinely scary. My point is that werewolves were the scariest of the classical monsters. Geez. Of course they don't scare me now. That'd be like still letting the schoolyard bully take my lunch money.

      Do you remember a movie from the 70s or 80s about some woman who is attacked by demons all the time? Even raped in the shower? That one creeped me out. Can't remember the name of it, tho'.