100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Ninety-Six - "The Wolf Man!"

Well, I have been at this blog for almost 100 days now (since late July, actually), and this occasion marks the first time that I have missed more than one day of the challenge. The fact is, this is the busiest time of year for me, and it is difficult to find an hour to sit down and work this sucker out. In fact, I haven't even had time to watch a few of these films, which really sucks since I packed October with all the best movies in my collection. But I am determined to finish this thing out. There's only a few days left and I think I can manage it if I just work at it.

Yeah. And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

Anyway, let's get excited (if you can, that is) over today's wonderful movie - one which I have already watched a few times this month already. Check out Universal's 1941 classic "The Wolfman," and thanks as usual for your time (and your patience).

The Wolf Man (1941): Directed by George Waggner. Starring Lon Chaney, Jr., Evelyn Ankers, Patrick Knowles, Ralph Bellamy, Claude Rains, Bela Lugosi and Maria Ouspenskaya.

The Skinny: Even a man who is pure in hear and says his prayers by night can become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

What's Good: Maybe the last great movie to come out of Universal's golden age of monster movies, "The Wolf Man" was Lon Chaney, Jr.'s shining moment, shortly before his career dissolved into an alcoholic haze. Although he didn't create the iconic wolf man makeup as his father had for many years (the inimitable Jack Pierce came up with the idea of using a lap dissolve and yak hair), he still managed to make the character his own and gives us access to the torment Larry Talbot feels over his estrangement from his family, and the terrible curse he brings down upon his ancestral town. Add in a solid performance by Claude Rains (does he ever let us down? I think not), and incredibly comic turns from Ralph Bellamy and Patric Knowles and you get a perfect classic chiller for the Halloween season. Hell, for any season.

What's Bad: Nothing. Well, it's a little short, but that's it.

Why We Like It: It's a classic, undeniably. Watching Chaney transform from man to wolf man still works, even after the high-tech effects from films like "The Howling," and the CGI of "Underworld." It was painstakingly accomplished by a 10-hour session whereby Chaney would have makeup applied, sit in a chair, get the shot and repeat, over and over again. The film also uses just about every hard hitting actor in the Universal stable, including the wonderful Maria Ouspenskaya (no I did not have to look that name up - I can spell it from memory) as the gypsy woman who seems to know what is up. Her scenes at Lugosi's grave, muttering a poem about the afterlife, give the film a chilling moment, echoed in the final scenes as she recites the same lines over Talbot's body, dead by his own father's hand. Great, great, great stuff.

Memorable Stuff: Although the above described scenes are great, my favorite scene is when Chaney goes to a fair and is asked to show his hunting prowess with a rifle by shooting targets. After making a few deadeye shots, suddenly a tin wolf pops up. Suddenly shakey and sweating profusely, Talbot misses the shot on purpose, unable to deal with the idea that he himself may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms ... and that shit is in full frigging bloom.