Werewolf Of London

vicsage-halloween-movie-madness
Year: 1935
Director: Stuart Walker
Writers: John Colton, Harvey Gates, Robert Harris, and Edmund Pearson
Music: Karl Hajos
Starring: Henry Hull, Warner Oland, Valerie Hobson, Lester Matthews, Clark Williams, and Lawrence Grant

Favorite Quote: “The werewolf is neither man nor wolf, but a Satanic creature with the worst qualities of both.”

What better way to get your weekend off to a start than spending an evening watching a classic Universal Monsters picture? While a fantastic film, Werewolf of London doesn’t quite reach the level of awesomeness that the Wolf Man did in 1941. But it’s a Universal Monster picture which means that no matter what you are in for an entertaining film!

When world-renowned and wealthy botanist Wilfred Glendon (Hull) and his friend Hugh Renwick (Williams) travel to Tibet in search of the elusive mariphasa plant, they should have perhaps paid attention to not only their fleeing Sherpa but the traveling Missionary who tells them that the valley that houses the plant is inhabited by Demons. A fact that seems supported when just before the discovery of the mariphasa, Hugh finds himself unable to walk further and Wilfred is struck by unseen assailants. His search at an end, Wilfred pushes on through the valley alone and begins to cultivate the rare plant. Unaware that above him hidden in the rocks a clawed and furry monster watches him intently until it springs down upon him, savagely attacking Wilfred, biting him on the forearm before being driven away by the Botanist’s attacks with a knife.

We next see Wilfred with two long scars on his arms where the creature bit him, he has returned home to London in triumph but is having difficulty with the mariphasa plant. The legend that we learned early in the film is that it takes it’s sustenance from the rays of the moon. Wilfred has constructed a Moon Lamp in an attempt to entice it to bloom for him but is missing out on the social party being held by the Botanist Club and his wife, Lisa (Hobson), good-naturedly scolds him about it. At the party Wilfred is introduced to Captain Paul Ames (Matthews) who just so happens to have been an old flame of his wife and the Botanist seems less than pleased that they are getting along so well. Also in attendance is Dr. Yogami (Oland) who informs Wilfred they had met before…in Tibet…and that they were both searching for the mariphasa plant at the same time. The two Doctors retire to the study after Wilfred refuses to allow Yogami to examine his mariphasa and Yogami openly tells him that the plant is an antidote to those who suffer from Lycanthropy.

Wilfred obviously doesn’t believe Dr. Yogami, not until the next night when his Moon Lamp experiment yields results with the mariphasa…and when the light touches his exposed hand it begins to sprout long claws and fur!

[Via] Universal Movies

The make-up effects for Werewolf of London were handled by the legendary Jack Pierce and the original design for the Henry Hull “Wolf Man” features would have been the same as the one Lon Chaney Jr. ended up wearing in 1941 if the studio hadn’t nixed it in favor of the more simpler make-up, it didn’t help that Hull refused to sit for hours having the make-up applied.

Hull’s Lycanthrope is different than the type we would come to love in 1941’s The Wolf Man as he seems to be quite intelligent, he dons a scarf, coat, and cap before prowling the streets of London in search for a victim.

Werewolf of London is available for viewing on Netflix Streaming this very moment. It’s a great film and not only the first Hollywood mainstream Werewolf film but earns it’s worthy spot in the pantheon of Universal Monsters. It receives four and a half pumpkins out of five!
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VicSage

Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

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6 thoughts on “Werewolf Of London

  1. vinvectrex says:

    Thanks Vic – didn’t know this was streaming and will now be checking it out this weekend. Can’t wait!

  2. Saw this one Halloween night when I was in the single digits (8 or 9). I thought it was the Lon Chaney movie. Need to watch it again.

  3. You are most welcome, Vinvectex! It’s certainly worthy of being added to the Halloween rotation of films…possibly when it’s foggy outside?

    Doug, bear in mind that even those awesome monster books we could read in grade school had Henry Hull’s Lycanthropic visage. So that might not have helped either. :)

  4. Oddly enough, I took Aubrey to the library today (I’m on vacation) and I decided to look up those books and checked that one out. I am watching the film now and wondering why the later Chaney film became the more popular one. I think it is a better film, but the fact that this one was first makes it odd that it was obscured by the Chaney one.

  5. Well, when Werewolf of London was originally released it was sadly a box-office bomb. It seems that the movie goers of that time felt it resembled the 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde starring Frederic March too much. Which I can kind of see…but I don’t believe I can fully agree with their view.

  6. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Great pick, Vic!

    Feeling wolfie this season, so this old classic will be on my telly before the next full moon.
    Funny seeing Hull’s actor face, since I’m more used to seeing him as this monster.

    Also, it’s a (sad) fact that movies, regardless of their quality, might disappear from screens and minds too soon for any number of reasons.
    One thing that is an improvement today about movie-watching is the increased ability to view titles at one’s leisure.
    But I guess with these old B&W movies, you had to be there to get the full joy of discovering something.

    That’s why I love hearing people’s movie-going experience of yore, cuz it’s like a snapshot into another time, another’s head, and kinda redefines a movie in a way that makes it interesting to revisit.

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