Of all the Universal monster movies, The Wolf Man “deserved” a real sequel most. With Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Lon Chaney Jr.’s abilities to essay the Larry Talbot role really shine through. I’ve read (and maybe even repeated here) Chaney never gets credit for playing such a physical role while being a bigger man.
Here he actually starts showing off a lot of acting chops, as his character becomes, essentially, a suicidal lunatic. Being able to elicit sympathy with such a character is no easy task and Chaney does it. It helps having Maria Ouspenskaya around doesn’t hurt. In maybe three minutes, she and Chaney establish this surrogate mother and son relationship and whenever he talks about killing himself, they cut to her quietly sad expression.
Of course, the film’s got a lot of editing troubles of that nature (Bela Lugosi’s Frankenstein monster originally talked, making the film a direct sequel to the previous Ghost of Frankenstein, but they cut those scenes out) and there’s Patric Knowles’s way too rapid switch from caring doctor to mad scientist.
Knowles is fine at the beginning, when the film’s just a Wolf Man sequel, but gets silly when he returns. Ilona Massey is also a weak female lead.
The supporting cast is strong–Lionel Atwill, Dennis Hoey, Dwight Frye are all good. Rex Evans is a great villain, but never gets his comeuppance.
And Neill’s a solid director, even if he doesn’t top his opening shot.
Decent enough, could’ve been better.