Monster of the Day #171

Precursor to Larry Talbot, and a lot of the ‘folklore’ of werewolves comes from this one, too: Changing under the full moon, the “killing what it loves most” thing, etc. The Wolf Man introduced immortality, the pentagram, the “even a man who is pure at heart”, and, most important, the idea of silver being the only fatal element to lycanthropes. This guy is kacked with a regular bullet.

  • The Rev.

    I haven’t seen it, but my guess is Werewolf of London.

    I should try and see this other major contributor to modern werewolf lore, since I’ve seen The Wolf Man a couple of times.

  • Ericb

    When I first saw this as a kid I was disappointed. I didn’t think he wasn’t hairy enough.

  • Ericb

    replace *wasn’t* with *was*

  • BeckoningChasm

    Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Keith Richards!

  • Eric — As you probably know, actor Henry Hull refused to wear full face make-up. (Since this involved sitting in a chair twice a day for three to four hours, you can see why. Or maybe he was just vain and didn’t want his face covered.) Lon Chaney Jr. was either more game–perhaps following in the footsteps of his make-up creator father–or just wasn’t established enough to refuse. So the Talbot make-up remains our general conception of what a wolf-man looks like.

  • GalaxyJane

    I remember first seeing this as a teenager and finding it pretty dull going. In fact, I am not sure I have ever sat all the way through it. I knew that I was “supposed” to, because it was really the progenitor of all the Wolf Man movies, but I was just never able to warm to it.

    Then again, I’ve never liked yesterday’s “Monster Squad” worth a damn either, whereas everyone else in my generation seems to have very warm memories of it, so maybe I am just completely off-base where the classics are concerned.

  • Jane — As I noted before, I didn’t much like Monster Squad either. Sandra mentioned the thing with the concentration camp number. I remembered it outraged me at the time, trying to buy relevance in a stupid kid’s horror movie by referencing the Holocaust. Man’s Best Friend did the same thing, and both examples pissed me off.

  • GalaxyJane

    It wasn’t just the gratuitous use of SGGs history as a Holocaust survivor,it was the obnoxious juxtaposition of such things with the dick jokes and the previously-mentioned cheap shots at the concept of “virginity”. Even asa teenager it all came across as wildly inappropriate. Especially in an ostensible “kiddy film”.

    I feel more or less the same way about “The Goonies”, which I wouldn’t show my kids on a dare.

  • Let me put it this way: I haven’t seen Monster Squad since it was in theaters, and I can still remember the scene of an old guy referring to his concentration camp tattoo and saying something like, “I know what monsters are.” In a kiddie movie about Dracula and the Wolf Man and jokes about kicking Wolf Man in the balls (this, in fact, was the film’s ‘big’ line). That’s appalling, and just the sort of reason I’ve always loathed Shane Black. It’s like the Pyun Captain America movie where the Red Skull (the Italian guy) turns out to have assassinated JFK and MLK, so that we get he’s a bad-ass.

    In Man’s Best Friend the main character looks at surgical scars on a laboratory dog and declares, “It’s like something from Auschwitz.” Seriously. I wanted to punch the screenwriter in the face just then, and I’m not exaggerating.

  • roger h

    did Benicio Del Toro even need makeup?

  • Ericb

    It’s sort of like a Godwin’s law for movies. Real life tragedy and horror shouldn’t be exploited just to give a lightweight film some ephemeral gravitas.

  • Rock Baker

    For whatever reason, Werewolf of London has escaped my grasp since I started collecting movies. I saw the film one time, very long ago. I remember so little of it. I really want to see it again, but for some reason THIS classic never fell into my hands. Given its fame, I’ve never understood why it should be so elusive.

    As to the other topic, I think it comes down to individual examples. Not to sound wishy-washy, but as someone who uses the horrors of Word War 2 as a backdrop to the adventures of a giantess who fights the nazis while wearing a dinosaur skin bikini, I can’t bee overly harsh on others. The Man’s Best Friend example is without question a hideous error, and I find it hard to believe that a human being actually scripted such a line. The One time I saw Monster Squad, however, it was the concentration camp reference that was about the only thing I took away from it. Maybe because it was the only element that was ‘grown up’ about the whole film, it had more impact? I’m not saying it was right, it was just the only thing that stuck with me.

  • Well, there’s using Nazis as generic villains, as in the Indiana Jones films (which follows ’40s serials that used Nazis as generic villains), and there’s using specific references to the Holocaust to, as Eric sagely calls it, “give a lightweight film some ephemeral gravitas.” I realize that’s kind of a ‘I know it when I see it’ sort of argument, but there you go.

    I will say that comparing what happens to a frickin’ dog to Auschwitz goes well beyond mere bad taste. It’s so morally myopic it approaches being evil in itself. Even better (well, not better…), the dog shouldn’t even have had scars, because it was supposed to be genetically engineered, not Moreau-ed. The scars were only put there, in violations of continuity, to set up that exact line. So appalling, and stupid.

  • Rock Baker

    But common practice for PETA-type outfits. I recall a recent stink over a billboard with a picture of a circus elephant with a manacle around its leg, next to a very old picture of a slave with a chain around their neck! The fringe of the ‘animal rights’ movement has a history of insane, tasteless, and repulsive behavior.

  • I think they finally figured out that regular people see them as insane, though. That campaign comparing the eating of turkeys on Thanksgiving to the Holocaust really backfired on them…as anyone with a gram of common sense would have predicted.

  • Rock Baker

    Yeah, the campaign now is to have beautiful women (mostly minor celebrities) pose nude with the ridiculous tagline “I’d rather go naked than wear fur.” Funny, I recall old pinup stills of Jayne Mansfield wearing only a fur coat!

  • roger h

    re: PeTA, does seem suicidal that an organization whose biggest obstacle with public opinion is that they care more for animals than people, would ever make such comparisons of animals with people.

    I would think that even misanthropes would be able to see this error. At least fake that you care about people (IMHO PeTA and similar are more anti-people than pro-animal).

  • Ericb

    Strangely enough PETA is also anti-pet which puts them even more on the fringe.

  • sandra

    PETA dreams of a world in which animals/birds are no longer exploited, not even for milk, eggs or cheese. The question is, in such a world, what would become of the vast herds of cattle, sheep etc, and well as the flocks of chickens/ turkeys etc ? Since it would be ridiculous for the human race to continue feeding animals without there being anything in it for us – and besides we would need grain to feed ourselves, and every inch of arable land to grow beans ( got to get protein somehow !), the logical answer is “They would all be slaughtered”. IMO, what PETA wants is a world in which domestic animals ( even cats and dogs ) are extinct. Doesn’t sound very humanitarian to me.

  • Rock Baker

    I don’t think their innermost desire is a world without domesticated animals, but a world without humans getting in the way of nature’s natural beauty. Statements have been made to that effect.

  • Petoht

    Tom Waits, nooooooooooooo!

  • zombiewhacker

    I think a Holocaust reference in a fantasy film could work. It certainly worked in X-Men.

    By the way, does anyone else note a slight similarity between Hull’s makeup job and Nicholson’s in Wolf?