Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man is the original monster mashup. By 1943, Universal Pictures gathered a large collection of iconic movie monsters. It only made sense to pit two of their biggest monsters against each other. Frankenstein’s giant near invulnerable reanimated Monster and Larry Talbot cursed by the full moon to become the ferocious Wolf Man. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man is the first major movie crossover. The Frankenstein franchise lasted from 1931 to 1942. The franchise was consistently perfect with movies like Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein.
Meanwhile, Son of Frankenstein and The Ghost of Frankenstein marked a steady decline. The Monster went from misunderstood creature to mindless killing machine. The Wolf Man was the only solo movie made in 1941. It was an instant classic that popularized the tragic werewolf legend. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man feels more like a Wolf Man sequel that didn’t know how to continue his story without bringing in an already successful monster. Regardless of quality, my brother and I watched the crossover just to see our favorite monsters collide…
Frankenstein’s Monster vs. the Wolf Man
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man takes place 4 years after The Wolf Man and an indeterminate amount of time after The Ghost of Frankenstein. I say indeterminate because it was always assumed the Frankenstein story took place long before the more modern Wolf Man. The black & white atmosphere isn’t as artistic as it was for either franchise, but both styles blend well together. Despite playing the Monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein, Lon Chaney Jr. only plays Larry Talbot. Universal wanted him to play both parts, but that would’ve been too much makeup and an obvious split screen nightmare.
Although he died at the end of The Wolf Man, Larry is brought back to life when grave robbers remove the wolfsbane from his crypt. The crossover more explicitly states that a full moon brings out a werewolf. Chaney is always at the top of his game playing the tormented Talbot. Now all Larry wants to do is die. Even a festival celebrating life is enough to make him snap. Patric Knowles now plays Frank Mannering, a doctor who treats Larry and works with the police to determine if he is who he says he is. The Wolf Man makeup is just as good as before as the werewolf attacks more innocent people. Larry seeks the old gypsy woman Maleva. Maria Ouspenskaya is still a caring mother figure who guides Larry to the answers he seeks.
Hearing characters from The Wolf Man say the name Frankenstein is a feeling you only get from a crossover. Since I avoided The Ghost of Frankenstein when I was younger, I didn’t notice any connections when I saw Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. The village still hates the long dead Dr. Frankenstein and his castle is still burned down. The Wolf Man is chased by angry villagers into the ruins of the castle that contains the frozen Monster. Larry befriends the Monster that no longer has the voice of Ygor. Even though Bela Lugosi now plays the Monster, all of his lines were cut. Lugosi made his mark by extending his arms outward, but the rest of his performance is a little too mindless.
Larry seeks Dr. Frankenstein’s secret to life and death from remaining descendant Elsa Frankenstein. She’s presumably the same character from The Ghost of Frankenstein, but the recast Ilona Massey has an inconsistent Hungarian accent. Elsa fills the role of beautiful female lead that Larry is smitten with. Since she doesn’t follow in her father or grandfather’s footsteps, the role of mad scientist goes to Dr. Frank Mannering. Elsa, Maleva, and Mannering all try to help Larry die by constructing an energy draining machine. In theory, the machine will allow Larry’s lifeforce to be placed in the body of the Monster.
Everything goes wrong when the Monster gets too strong and a full moon comes out. Frankenstein meeting the Wolf Man literally happens in the last 3 minutes of the movie. It’s false advertising, but their fight is worth the wait. Seeing the Monster and the werewolf attack each other is a monster fan’s dream come true. Thanks to the energy draining machine, the Monster overpowers the Wolf Man, but the latter is still able to pounce on his enemy. The winner is left ambiguous since the villagers cause a flood that washes them away. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man is a less than perfect “monster rally” that made major crossovers the crowd pleasers they are today.
The Wolf Man on the prowl
Crossover of: The Wolf Man and Frankenstein franchises & Followed by: House of Frankenstein