Written by: John Edward Betancourt
It's incredible when you think about how many classic films can withstand the always tough test of time. Granted the final number is likely a small one, but I would wager to say that quite a few of them come from the horror genre. After all, they were films that terrified audiences to their core. While many other films have stuck with us in our hearts and memories, it is the ones that leave us wanting to keep the lights on when we go to bed that truly had an incredible impact on us.
There are few feelings more powerful than fear and I had the opportunity to enjoy a horror classic that I had not seen since I was a boy the other night at the Alamo Drafthouse and man...it still rocked. I'm talking about the Universal Pictures classic...The Wolf Man.
In fact this film is so iconic that we won't even bother with the plot because of how many people out there have seen this gem. No instead, I'd like to talk about how damn amazing a movie over seventy years old has held up so well.
I mean after all, this is a film that has influenced many a filmmaker, including the great Tom Savini. With good reason, despite the low fi special effects, they still manage to wow after all these years simply on principle of appreciation. There's no CGI to wow us here, just time lapse photography that well, still works better than computer graphics on a bad day.
They work for one particular reason, Lon Chaney's performance. He brings to life the monster as it roams through the night. His Werewolf is ferocious and feral, a beast that only hints at the humanity that it was spawned from. He truly becomes the creature and that is cemented by his performance as the nervous and uncertain Larry Talbot, the unfortunate soul now cursed with the ability to turn into this monster.
But the beauty of this film goes beyond its makeup effects and fine acting by doing what horror does best, relating to the common man. It's central theme is fear and at times the message can be a little heavy handed but "the beast within" theme does not apply to all. Larry Talbot is an outcast through and through. A man who left home and returned only because it seemed his duty to take his brother's place. He simply does not belong and the fear of trying to fit in and adapt makes this film applicable to any of us. We've all been the outcast, we've all been a monster from time to time and that is why we still hold on to classics like this, because of the fact that they remind us of the evils that are capable within us, and our eternal struggle to beat them.