year: 1941
cast: Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya
rating: ***

Moody and atmospheric sums this up wonderfully; alas, there's not much more. Gorgeously hypnotic to look at and a somewhat involving experience but there's not enough adventure, or... um... scary parts. Lon Chaney Jr. is, they say, a classic actor... but he reminds me of "Sam the Butcher" from "The Brady Bunch", only taller (no offense to Allan Melvin). The poem about the wolf bane is (annoyingly) repeated more times than the word "sex" in PORKY'S and... well it's wonderfully photographed and Chaney's rudimentary transformation is cool (the neat collage right before the tip-toed wolf boots)... but overall, in the Universal Picture's Monster Movie canon, this one's a bit of a howler. Claude Rains is good, like always, and Maria Ouspenskaya (try saying that five times quick... or even one time slowly) as the prophetic gypsy, all but steals the picture. And one particular scene, involving Chaney, already a marked man, entering church to the chagrin of the congregation, is nothing short of miraculous.

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