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The Wolf Man  (1941)

Cast: Lon Chaney Jr., Evelyn Ankers, Claude Rains, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Maria Ouspenskaya, Bela Lugosi
Director: George Waggner
U.S. Distribution: Universal
U.S. Release Date: 12/12/41
Running Time: 1:10
MPAA Rating: Not rated

It is good to know that at least one other person agrees with me that The Wolf Man is one of the finest horror films ever made. Fellow film-lover and "Entertainment Tonight" correspondent / historian Leonard Maltin notes the outstanding cast, superb makeup and atmospheric music as his reasons. For me, it is something of a less critical nature.

It was probably 1971 or 1972. I was six or seven. I had just been given my first album - actually a cassette tape - with music by the only band I knew at the time, Creedence Clearwater Revival. In much the same way I felt after first hearing CCR's "Bad Moon Rising", it only took a few frightening moments of The Wolf Man to make me a big fan.

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night,
May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

Who could forget that spooky rhyme repeated by almost everyone in the movie? I will never forget the grainy black and white version which I squinted to see, somewhere way down the UHF dial. With rabbit ears pointed toward classic Hollywood, Lon Chaney Jr. transformed into one of the most-frightening movie monsters I could have ever imagined.

When one watches The Wolf Man today, it would be tempting to dismiss it as slow-moving and dated. I would agree that some of the performances are somewhat less-than-outstanding, but I find myself overlooking the film's few flaws and enjoying it as one of the best creature features ever. It may be 60 years old, but it still brings out the kid in me.

© 2000, Delton Perrodin

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