It’s time for things to get a little hairy as I move on to the werewolf chapter of DK Canada’s highly enjoyable coffee table tome, Monsters in the Movies by John Landis.
I dug into this 1935 film, that is thankfully short, and can’t seem to decide how funny it wants to be with some of its side characters, while the central characters are caught up in lycanthropy and jealousy.
The film opens with famed English botanist Wilfred Glendon (Henry Hull) on an expedition in Tibet, seeking a rare mariphasa plant. While there he is attacked by a beast-like creature, but he comes home with the plant.
Back in Merry Ole, Wilfred is distracted by his plants, and despite the fact that he loves his wife, Lisa (Valerie Hobson), he never seems to be able to make her consistently happy. And this comes to the fore, when an old friend, Paul (Lester Matthews) comes a-calling.
But before Wilfred can deal with the potential marital upset he is visited by Dr. Yogami (Warner Oland) who claims to have met Wilfred in Tibet, and warns him of the curse that is now upon him, that when the moon is full he will turn into a wolf-like creature and commit atrocities. He also informs the botanist that the mariphasa plant can provide a temporary cure if taken at the right time.
Being a man of science, Wilfred refuses to believe Yogami… until it’s too late.
And soon a strange creature is prowling the streets of London and causing two hilarious old landladies a number of problems, including whether or not they should stop drinking all together.
As the climax races along, Wilfred learns the true nature of Yogami, and becomes increasingly jealous of Paul’s presence in Lisa’s life, and when he turns with the moon, he begins a final assault on his own home, and meets his fate.
This one was interesting, the makeup effects for the wolf version of Wilfred were pretty solid, especially for the time, but none of this was his fault, and as the film ends seeing the way Paul looks to Lisa (as if her husband just hadn’t been revealed to be a werewolf, is very troubling).
Still, the landladies were entertaining, as was the party scene that Wilfred and Lisa hosted to showcase all the rare plants.
It’s a solid enough Saturday matinee style film, with not enough substance to it. But I’ve always enjoyed a werewolf movie, and not all of them are going to be The Howling, or An American Werewolf in London, some of them are going to be… this.
Still, there are so many more to come, follow along with your own copy of Monsters in the Movies from DK Books, or find something equally macabre to watch tonight!