And the moon is full and bright.”
Although vampires have been dominating pop culture lately (when haven’t they, really?) the werewolf is also keeping a steady presence. They exist in the Twilight books and films, and Benicio Del Toro is starring in a new version of the tale set for release soon. But I am drawn back to the original films–the Universal horror films of the ’40s, in which the templates for these things were created.
As part of their Legacy series, Universal has released multi-disc sets of all of their monsters, and I recently took a look at those in the Wolf Man boxed set. To see all of them, it necessitated crossing over into the Frankenstein and Dracula sets as well. All told, there were five films featuring the Wolf Man, with two others incorporating the theme but were not part of the canon.
The Wolf Man was the third member of the trinity of Universal monsters, originating in 1941, well after Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula. He was the only one of them who was not based on a literary source. In fact, he was mostly the brainchild of screenwriter Curt Siodmak, who took some Eastern European folk tales and remade them. Turning into a wolf when the moon is full? Can only be stopped by a silver bullet or knife? Wears the sign of the pentagram? All of these were products of Siodmak’s imagination, which have carried forward to all werewolf tales that followed.