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The Plot Thickens

Photo: Taelar Pollmann ⋅ The Sentry

The Wolf Man

Just like Guillermo Del Toro, I grew up watching many of the ‘30s/’40s Universal Monster movies. While they are by no means my bread and butter, they do remind me of childhood. One day, while I stayed home from school sick, my father and I watched the 1925 Lon Channey-starring, silent film The Phantom of the Opera for fun. Though I’ve seen multiple Dracula films, several of The Mummy movies, and even a few of the Abbott and Costello Meet series, my heart has always belonged to The Wolf Man. 

My liking of werewolves probably has something to do with the fact that I also grew up a huge fan of dragons. I know those seem completely unrelated, but as I was researching and writing this column, I had that thought, and now it seems true and necessary to say. Dragons  = Werewolves. Facts.

I’ve seen the original Lon Channey Jr. The Wolf Man film a handful of times, and have always admired it for a) being about werewolves, b) having an intriguing and emotional story, and c) creating a timeless atmosphere that can’t be placed. Perhaps this third thing is my favorite. Watch the movie and you’ll see what I mean: “Is this turn of the century? But he just dialed a rotary telephone. And he’s wearing a three-piece suit that looks like it should be in a department store. But that gun, is that from the 1890s? What is going on here?”

I love the idea of werewolves, and have read multiple werewolves books over the years, partly because they’re terrifying. Oh, you can turn into a bat? Meh. Oh, you’re invisible? That’s actually pretty nifty. You’re a long-dead mummy wrapped in bandages? Seems inconvenient. Oh, you turn into a giant, nine-foot creature that wants to rip me to shreds and has giant teeth, and you don’t have control over your own body? Horrifying.

And truth be told, I think that Wolf Man scared me the most as a child. Yes, the special effects are just makeup artists gluing pieces of hair to a dude’s face while the still images fade into each other, but the end product? Pretty darn good.

Maybe, as with most things film, I like The Wolf Man because my father does. He showed it to me. I probably never would’ve discovered it on my own. It also doesn’t hurt that the storyline revolves around an estranged son reconnecting with his dad. 

But whatever the reason, his teeth or his hair or his claws or his heart, I cannot get enough Wolf Man. Ever.

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