Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.), the Wolf Man, is freed from his tomb by grave robbers. His search for a way to die takes him to the remains of the Frankenstein manor and the still-living Monster.
The Frankenstein franchise had died a well-deserved death, having less than nothing of interest left (but they wouldn’t let it lie). Luckily, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man is more of a sequel to The Wolf Man and there was still fun to be had there. This isn’t deep stuff; it’s monster mash fun, and while this is the worst version of The Monster yet, the Wolf Man, still my favorite version of a werewolf, looks great. In a film that’s a big drop from the emotional The Wolf Man, Lon Chaney Jr. manages to impart his cursed man with a good deal of pathos. I cared about Talbot and could understand his suffering. I understood a whole lot less on why his immediate move on finding a monster frozen in ice is to free it, but what else is a guy to do in a monster mash movie?
Patric Knowles does a better mad scientist than the one in the Ghost of Frankenstein, though it’s hard to figure why this scientist caught the monster-making bug. For a start, he isn’t even a scientist. He’s a doctor. Nor can I find any good reason for him to be hunting Talbot all over Europe instead of informing some German police about a killer. But it is such a short film that it’s over before the silliness becomes too obvious.
While mainly tied to The Wolf Man, this was also a sequel to Ghost of Frankenstein, so The Monster now has Ygor’s brain and is blind. Test audiences couldn’t accept the voice, so before the picture was given wide release, all of The Monster’s dialog was cut along with any reference to his blindness. However, nothing was re-filmed, so The Monster walks with a strange gait, his hands stretched before him (so that he wouldn’t knock into things). This is the origin of The Monster’s strange walk which has become such a comic cliché.
The other films in the series are Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son of Frankenstein (1939), Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), and House of Frankenstein (1944), and House of Dracula (1945).