Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man proves they don’t make them like they used to, they make them exactly like they used to. For despite the cool title, some interesting ideas, great monster makeup, and two classic actors – Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. – in the two title roles, this is just a plain and simple cash-in sequel, the kind we’re accustomed to seeing these days packaged along with even the most mildly successful films (I must have been in the bathroom for the entire six months the country demanded a sequel to Agent Cody Banks).
I will give Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man’s concept a bit of credit. It finds the previously dead Larry Talbot’s (Chaney) grave robbed, and when the moonlight touches his skin he is resurrected as his old hairy alter-ego The Wolf Man. Eventually coming to his senses in an English hospital later, Talbot realizes he cannot stay dead though that is all he wants to do. He seeks out Dr. Frankenstein to help kill him, and instead finds the doctor’s monster, frozen alive in a block of ice.
Nevermind that Talbot was killed by silver cane in the first film, and nevermind that even though he believes he cannot die, he stays dead for four years before a couple of dumb graverobbers wake him up (it stands to reason that if you just buried him deep enough, or even better cremated his body, this would not be a problem). Chaney was always terrific in the role, and his sad, pathetic face gives a depth to sadness of Talbot’s predicament that would not otherwise be there. It’s too bad that the idea of a suicidal man who desperately wants to die but can’t is wasted on such a jumbled mess of a movie. The film opens strongly with the graverobbing scene, but then it wanders aimlessly through some scenes of a policeman and detective investigating before finally centering on Talbot’s struggles, then devolves into your standard Frankenstein tale of mob mentality. When the two monsters do finally square off for a couple minutes in the finale it’s a fittingly underwhelming battle. Stick with the vastly superior 1941 Wolf Man original instead.