Friday, 16 October 2015

Cinema & TV: The Werewolf Cinematic Timeline, Part I: 1913-1949

Hello werewolf fans!

A long, long time ago (twelve years ago to be exact), there was a website about werewolves that had a huge list of werewolf movies from the very beginning to what was then the present. From what I know, the website hasn’t been around for a long time, since it disappeared from the waves of the Internet ocean still during the time when I was writing posts on my first blog as a teenager. And so, with Werewolf Theory reborn, I decided to scrape up what I had once saved from the mentioned website, revise it with my own knowledge of werewolf cinema and make a giant list of my own for all those interested to see. Because of its size, I’ve decided that it will be a good thing to split it into parts. The first part, which is this post, will cover productions from the year 1913 up to and including year 1949. The subsequent parts have their time-span yet to be determined, depending on the size of each post. The lists will mostly feature werewolf movies, but in some cases they will also list productions that are not strictly werewolf-themed, but in which werewolves have appeared for longer than just a cameo. For those I have the Werewolf Cameos series of posts. Anyway, I hope you find this list of mine informative. Enjoy!

1913 

The Werewolf

Regarded as the first ever made werewolf movie and the earliest of Universal Pictures monster movies, this silent film short tells the story of an Indian woman who becomes a witch and passes her knowledge of witchcraft to her daughter. The girl transforms into a wolf and carries out vengeance against white American settlers. The film is considered lost since it was supposedly destroyed in a fire at Universal Studios in 1942.

1923


Le Loup-Garou

A French silent film whose premise revolves around a priest who is murdered and curses his killer so that he transforms into a wolf. The werewolf begs God for forgiveness for what he has done, but instead of the curse being lifted from him, he is struck and, as a result, killed by lightning.

1925

Wolf Blood
(Wolfblood: A Tale of the Forest)

A silent film starring, and directed by, George Chasebro. It tells the story of Dick Bannister, who becomes the new field boss of the Canadian Ford Logging Company. At the time, the company is waging a private war with a rival logging company. When the conflict turns bloody, Dick is wounded and loses so much blood that he requires a transfusion. Since no human wants to volunteer, Dick is given the blood of a wolf. Medical probabilities aside, soon afterwards Dick starts having dreams of running with a pack of wolves, while the rival loggers begin dying to wolf attacks. Subsequently, his fellow lumberjacks come to the conclusion that Dick is a werewolf.


1932

Le Loup Garou 
(Werewolf)

The first sound film to feature a werewolf. Directed by Friedrich Feher and based on Alfred Machard’s novel Der Schwarze Mann, the movie has been lost to time. 

1935

Werewolf of London

The first mainstream Hollywood werewolf movie by Universal Studios. Wilfred Glendon (Henry Hull), a renowned English botanist, travels to Tibet in search of a rare mariphasa plant. While there, he is bitten by a werewolf and starts to transform himself during the next full moon. It turns out that the mariphasa plant can be made into a temporary antidote for lycanthropy, but when the flower does not bloom, Glendon goes on a killing spree through the streets of London. He tries to isolate himself from other people, but the beast within seems to always find a way to escape its confinement.

1941
The Wolf Man


The first of many movies featuring Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Wolf Man. Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) returns from the USA to his hometown after the unexpected death of his brother and reunites with his father. One night, as he fends off an attack by what he thinks is a wolf, he is bitten by the animal that turns out to have been a werewolf. Soon, Larry starts changing into a wolf-man and prowls the nearby woods in search of his next victim.
My analysis & review of the movie: [here]

1942

The Undying Monster 
(The Hammond Mystery)

The Hammond family has been cursed with lycanthropy since the times of the Holy Crusades, but the only thing the public knows is that its members have been dying under mysterious circumstances or committing suicide. When two people are attacked by an unknown creature, Robert Curtis (James Ellison) and his partner Christy (Heather Thatcher) are sent to investigate the crimes and find a rational explanation for what the locals believe to be a result of the Hammonds’ family curse. When the monster kidnaps a woman, the police chase it down and shoot it, revealing that the creature responsible for the attacks was a werewolf member of the Hammond family.

The Mad Monster

Dr. Lorenzo Cameron is a mad scientist seeks revenge on his peers by developing a serum made from a wolf’s blood that turns his gardener (and test subject) into a bloodthirsty wolf-man. He then uses the wolf-man to kill the fellow scientists that ridiculed his beliefs and made him lose his job at a university. A newspaper reporter begins to investigate the killings and he begins to suspect the scientist of being the culprit. In the end, the wolf-man turns on his master and kills him, while the laboratory burns down, burying all the evidence of what has really happened.

1943

Le Loup des Malveneur

A French film directed by Guillame Radot. Similarly to the family from The Undying Monster, a curse hangs upon the Malveneur family – its first-born male members are doomed to transform into wolves by night. Once a family of hunters, they are now the hunted monsters. The last member of the family, who happens to be a scientist, conducts mysterious experiments in order to find a cure and revive his ancestors. Once people start disappearing, a detective is sent to investigate. The movie incorporates themes from both Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

The sequel to 1941’s The Wolf Man. On the night of a full moon, graverobbers break into the Talbot family crypt, where Larry Talbot was laid to rest after the events of The Wolf Man. When they remove the wolfsbane that was buried with him, the full moon’s light revives Larry, to the horror of the graverobbers. He escapes and travels to the remains of Dr. Frankenstein’s castle, where he hopes to either find a way to cure himself of lycanthropy or permanently end his life. It is there that he comes across Frankenstein’s monster.

1944

The Return of the Vampire

An unofficial continuation of Bela Lugosi’s version of Dracula from 1931, where Lugosi plays Count Dracula in all but name. Generally speaking, this is a vampire movie, so I’m not going to write a summary of it. The reason why it’s on this list is the fact that the titular vampire’s servant is a werewolf, whose lycanthropy is somehow bound to his master’s existence, for when the vampire is killed with a stake, the werewolf returns to his human form. After the vampire is revived, however, he becomes a werewolf again and once more serves his master.

The Three Stooges: Idle Roomers

A short film featuring the American slapstick comedy team, the Three Stooges. In it, the trio work as bellboys at a hotel where they are trying to win the affection of an attractive female guest. It turns out that the woman’s husband has somehow smuggled a wolf-man into the hotel. Lupe the Wolf Man, for that’s his name, goes berserk whenever he hears music, so when one of the bellboys turns on the radio while cleaning his room, all hell breaks loose.

House of Frankenstein

Another movie with Lon Chaney, Jr. in the role of the Wolf Man, this movie continues the story from 1943’s Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. Dr. Gustav Niemann (played by Boris Karloff) seeks revenge on Burgermeister Hussman, who once caused his imprisonment. He visits the flooded ruins of Frankenstein’s castle and finds Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolf Man frozen in the water. He thaws the two of them out and promises to help Larry Talbot find a cure for his lycanthropy. He is not one to keep his promises, however, and Larry transforms into a wolf-man and starts killing people. Eventually, Larry is shot with a silver bullet by a Gypsy girl who has fallen in love with him.

Cry of the Werewolf

Based on a story by Griffin Jay, the movie tells of a Romani princess supposedly descended from Marie La Tour, an 18th century French noblewoman. She has the ability to transform into a wolf - a trait she inherited from her mother. When she learns that the location of Marie La Tour’s tomb has been discovered, she decides to kill everyone privy to this information, because it is considered a sacred place whose whereabouts are to be known only to her family.

1945

House of Dracula

Yet another Universal Studios production that puts Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, and the Wolf Man together on one screen. Once again, this movie continues the story of its predecessor, House of Frankenstein from a year before. Count Dracula (John Carradine) comes to the fictional town of Visaria to meet with Dr. Edelmann, saying that he is looking for a cure for vampirism. At the same time, Larry Talbot arrives at the castle (wait, didn’t he get shot in the previous film?) and wants Edelmann to develop a cure for his werewolfism. The doctor claims that Talbot’s transformations may be caused by pressure in his brain - and not by moonlight - and undertakes the task of curing him. Eventually, he succeeds in curing Larry of werewolfism by relieving the pressure in his skull (yeah right), but while trying to cure Dracula, he becomes a vampire himself.

1946

She-Wolf of London 
(Curse of the Allenbys)

Phyllis Allenby is a content noblewoman who is about to be married to an aristocratic lawyer. She lives in her family’s manor in London with her aunt, cousin, and a servant. Suddenly, people start being killed at the local park, their throats ripped by what seems to be a wild animal. Rumours about werewolf attacks spread through the city and some people claim to have seen a “she-wolf” emerge from the Allenby manor and head for the park. At the same time, Phyllis wakes up with blood on her hands, unable to remember what happened the previous night. She starts believing that she is the female werewolf responsible for the murders, affected by the legendary curse of the Allenby family.

1948

Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Abbot and Costello were the most popular American comedy duo in the 1940s and early 1950s. This movie was the first of a number of productions in which the two comedians come across classic Universal Studios monsters. Here, Abbot and Costello play two baggage clerks, Chick and Wilbur, respectively. They are contacted by Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) – who, for some reason, is once again a werewolf (so much for that brain pressure relieving therapy, I guess) – who tries to warn them that a shipment they’re handling is dangerous because it contains the bodies of Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein’s monster (Glenn Strange) en route to McDougal House of Horrors. As we can expect, Dracula awakes upon arrival and devises a plot to revive Frankenstein's monster and replace its brain with that of Wilbur’s. Together with Larry Talbot, the two comedians have to act to stop Dracula’s plans.


And that would be it for Part I of the Werewolf Cinematic Timeline. Phew, I have to say it took me a while to get all these short summaries together. I actually had to cut the post earlier than planned, because it was getting too long. Stay tuned for Part II, which will list productions from 1950 up to and including 1979 (at least that’s the plan), where their numbers begin to visibly increase. See you next time!

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