Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The fifth film in Universal's "Frankenstein" series goes for the box-office gold by combining two--count 'em, two!--of the studio's star monsters. We all thought that Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.), alias The Wolf Man, had been shot dead in his own starring film in 1941, but the opening scenes of Frankenstein vs. the Wolf Man prove us incorrect. Brought back to the land of the living, the anguished Talbot commiserates with gypsy lady Maria Ouspenskaya, who advises him that the only way he'll stay dead is to confer with Dr. Frankenstein. The good doctor has passed on, but his equipment is intact. With the help of scientist Patric Knowles and Frankenstein descendant Ilona Massey, Talbot attempts to have the life forces sucked from his body and transferred to that of Frankenstein's monster. The latter character is played by Bela Lugosi, who'd turned the same role down in 1931 because he felt it was beneath his dignity. By 1943, however, Lugosi was in no position to refuse the part of the lumbering monster. The actor was relieved to learn that the monster would have the power of speech, a leftover from 1942's Ghost of Frankenstein; likewise held over from that previous film was the monster's blindness, which would give Lugosi an opportunity to do some swell sightless emoting. But when the preview audience heard the Monster bemoaning his fate in Lugosi's voice, they laughed till they cried. As a result, Universal ordered that all of Lugosi's dialogue be cut. Worse still, the studio also cut all expository dialogue alluding to the monster's blindness, so the film as it stands finds poor Lugosi flailing about with his eyes closed for no apparent reason. At least Lon Chaney Jr. was permitted to portray his Wolfman character without molestation, and this he does very well. So successful was this "monster rally" that Universal rapidly concocted two follow-ups, House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula, both of which added Dracula (John Carradine) to the witches' brew.
Frankenstein, werewolf, monster, cure, experiment