Monday, December 16, 2013

Frankenstein Meets Wolf Man Influence

A few friends of mine caught the ME TV SF line-up this past Saturday night. Svengoolie presented "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man" and naturally with my upcoming Damnation Books release of "Flask of Eyes", I was asked if this particular horror classic was an influence on my own monster team-up.

In truth, it was most influential, for as a foundation piece for monster team-ups, "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man" is the granddaddy of them all. Of course, “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” also led to "House of Frankenstein" and "House of Dracula", which as multiple-monster groupings even more so influenced my own multiple-monster excursion. Oh, and let's not forget "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein": a comical entry in the Universal franchise, but just as significant in its expansion of classic creepy characters and therefore, another indisputable influence on my book.

I think, though, that Paul Naschy's derivation of the latter trio probably hits closest to home for "Flask": that being "Assignment Terror" (aka, "Dracula vs Frankenstein", though not to be confused with Al Adamson and Sam Sherman's team-up of the same name.) "Assignment Terror" makes use of iconic monsters, but none are precisely those of previous, popular lore, but rather impressions of such.

In much the same vein, "Flask" takes the influential qualities of film and literary creatures and blends them into a parallel-universe set-up. It implies that our favorite, famous monsters are, in fact, derived from iconic imprints, which in the case of "Flask" stems from a co-existing Halloween-inspired dimension. (The concept is rather what Clive Barker insinuates in "Great and Secret Show".)

Nonetheless, for the sake of a renowned character overlap, it still all goes back to "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man". That movie set the standard, and "Flask" is most defintely one of its many roundabout offsprings.


Here are some staples you all should already know like the back of your hand, but for those not up to snuff, I offer a brief rundown of four of the most inspiring, influential horror team-up flicks ever made (and all courtesy of Universal Studios)!!!
1) "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman" (1943), with the title sometimes broken into two words (in tune with the first film): A sequel to both "The Wolf Man" and "Ghost of Frankenstein" (each starring Lon Chaney Jr. in the leads), though more expansively linked to the former and also penned by Curt Siodmak. Larry Talbot is unintentionally resurrected by grave robbers, once the full moon falls upon his face, and he is then off with kind-hearted, gypsy Maleva to seek Dr. Frankenstein for a cure. Frankenstein (and offspring from "Son of" and "Ghost of") are nowhere in sight, but preserved in ice is none other than the Monster (Bela Lugosi, who originally turned down the role in '31). Larry and the Monster get along quite well, but in the end, when Larry goes lycanthropic, the creatures adapt an intense dislike for each other.
2) "House of Frankenstein" (1944): the granddaddy of monster rally pictures, featuring the Monster, Wolfman, Dracula, a hunchback and mad scientist. Karloff gets to play off Glenn Strange, who now portrays the imposing, man-made giant. The first half with Dracula (John Carradine) pretty much stands alone, with Karloff and J. Carrol Naish carrying on into the Frankenstein/Wolfman portion. Memorable, quicksand ending. Loads of fun--unforgettable for its energy and condensed zeal.
3) "House of Dracula" (1945): direct sequel to the prior, with carryovers in cast and emphasizing Dracula and the Wolfman, leaving the Monster relegated primarily to a background role. Both Drac and Talbot seek a doctor for a cure to their ailments, with Talbot being sincere in his request and Drac quite the contrary. The good doctor is infected by Drac's blood, during an ill-fated transfusion and turns dangerously Hyde-like. More somber than its predecessor, but every bit as fun and engaging.

4) "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948): the all-time great, monster comedy, to which all others (including even "Young Frankenstein" and "Mad Monster Party") are inevitably compared. The comedy duo is in top form, going up against Dracula (Lugosi, reprising his role for the first time on film since the Browning classic), Monster and Wolfman (with a neat vocal cameo by Vincent Price as the Invisible Man). Sleek and breezy; it also set the standard for other Abbott and Costello monster follow-ups, which successfully carried on through the '50s). An indisputable masterpiece.


  1. Very interesting! I am curious about the time travel element though. How does the story relate to time travel?

  2. There is certainly a time-tripping element to “Flask”, though more so in the forging and overlapping of time, one could argue. There’s an extrapolation into the future from the time the story commences in 1963, to a segment in 1970, but the latter landscape is only a proposed one: an alternate view of what could be. On the other hand, “Flask” is not a traditional time-travel yarn by any means. It’s not as if one will encounter the equivalent of good ol’ Rod Taylor sweeping through time and space, in other words.

    The story structure is ultimately more “Twilight Zone” in the way scenarios fall into place, with a heavy dose of Bradbury, at least when it comes to the Halloween-ish dimension, and of course, there are the iconic monster impressions propelling it all, as well as an arguable insinuation of divine intervention and the importance of remembering the past in order to carve an "acceptable" future.

  3. It seems like you fancy the pairings. What are your thoughts on one of my favorites, King Kong vs. Godzilla?

    1. Gosh, I adore "King Kong vs Godzilla", and yes, in its grand, combattive concept, it was certainly influential to me: a colossal take on "Frank Meets Wolf". I once read (I believe it was in Famous Monsters of Filmland) how Toho seemingly patterned its progression of team-ups after Universal's, with "Destroy All Monsters" being the culminating (and largest) ensemble in its original stretch.

      Even O'Brien's proposed "King Kong vs Frankenstein" has weighed influentially upon my imagination: one of those great, potential teamings that never came to be, at least not in its planned form, though one can certainly see its influence on "Kong vs Godzilla", "Frankenstein Conquers the World" and "War of the Gargantuas"; however, any of the "Gojira vs" movies use the idea launched by "Frank Meets Wolf". Again, it all goes back to that particular film, doesn't it? (Heck, even the initial "Alien vs Predator" paid homage to "Frank Meets Wolf" in a fleeting scene.)

      Just for the record, the stop-motion "Mad Monster Party" left a big impression on me as a kid as well. It's very much akin to "Abbott and Costello Meet Frank" in being humorous, but like the Universal favorite, is certainly no less magnificent in its overlapping impact.

      There are truly lots of similar films and television shows that come to mind of this kind, including even a television-made "House of Frank" mini-series, plus in the "Mad Monster Party" vein, additional kid-geared products as the "Laugh-In" inspired "Groovie Goolies", "Monster Squad"--the '70s series and '87 movie of the same name.

      I also dare say that the recent live-action Marvel "Avengers" certainly plays upon the gathering-of-iconic-favorites theme, combining all these beyond-human types within the same setting(s), and of course, DC/WB is extending such character interaction in its upcoming "Man of Steel" sequel, to including Batman, Wonder Woman...even Dick Grayson's Nightwing, if rumors are to be believed.

      Anyway, I fancy this sort of legendary character-combo stuff obviously, in all its epic, eclectic scopes. It's part of my psyche, and therefore, it's no wonder such manifested in my alternate-reality romp.

      (Perhaps others might fancy discussing their favorite, mythic team-ups, whether Universal, Toho, Gamera/Daiei, Sword-and-Sandal, Naschy-based, etc.)

  4. I've always been enamored by "Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster". It's another "impression of" type team-up movie. What's your take on that?

  5. That's another UHF entry from my childhood that I've consistently enjoyed. I probably appreciate it now more than then, though. As a kid, I rather wanted a more traditional Frankenstein monster featured and not an android, but the robot idea really appeals to me at this stage: yes, an "impression of" variation for sure.

    The Space Monster is very memorable as well--cool costume. (I also enjoy seeing the swimming-pool exterior that was used prior in Arch Hall Sr.'s caveman epic, "Eegah".)

    The recent "Frankenstein vs the Creature from Blood Cove" actually has the same sort of feel as "Frank Meets Space Monster". You might want to check it out when you can. I highly recommend it.

    1. What about "House of the Wolfman"? I would be curious to know your take on that...?

    2. Though it's unfortunately not directly linked to "House of Frank/Drac" (or "Abbott/Costello Meet Frank", for that matter) and the primary monsters don't appear until the finale of "House of Wolf Man", the latter's team-up concept is still endearingly done. In many respects, I find "House of Wolf" to be mostly reminiscent of Monogram and PRC films, wherein an ample amount of murder-mystery permeates an hour-ish plot. (It's also pretty neat that Ron Chaney is involved in the story, and as with "Frank vs Monster of Blood Cove", the make-up designs are superb!)

  6. I like those Spanish Paul Naschy werewolf pictures, especially Night of the Howling Beast. Ever see that one? Naschy fights a yeti.

    1. I agree, “Night of the Howling Beast” (aka, “The Werewolf and the Yeti”, et al.) is a stand-out entry, very underrated. I actually got to see if for the first time when I stumbled upon a used VHS copy at a mall. I bought it without a moment’s hesitation and have never regretted it.

      I mentioned Naschy’s “Assignment Terror” earlier, which is a spirited “House of Frank/Drac” take-off. Check it out if you haven’t already. (Oddly enough, this particular monster rally came much earlier than his later lycanthrope efforts.)

      Also, Naschy’s “Dr. Jekyll vs the Werewolf” (aka, “Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf”) is worth viewing (another underrated gem, with horror-genre favorite Jack Harris as Jekyll), and of course, Naschy’s successful drive-in staple “Werewolf vs the Vampire Woman” just brims of fun. All of Naschy’s Waldemar Danisky adventures are terrific.

  7. Thought I'd give my old "Frank/Wolf" thoughts a run through. The film has been on my mind as of late, thanks to a crass character who blocked me on Facebook. He thought my comment of the film, declaring it a "crossover classic that set the standard" to be offensive. Poor chap obviously has a reading comprehension problem, but then even after I explained the obvious, he didn't seem to get it, or was at least too damn stubborn to admit to his impulsive misconception.

    It got me to thinking how lots of folks, who claim to love a particular film, often don't understand why it's special, not only to them, but perhaps to others. Heck, it's okay to like something simply for the sake of it, but when one so grossly misses the point of a film's significance, I to pause and shake my head. (In the case of "Frank/Wolf", one only needs to do a search of the title with "crossover" and see what what pops up. It ain't that hard a nut to crack.)

    Anyway, the film is a blueprint for being the first crossover of its type and it sure did set the standard, creating a path for all others of its kind, whether they're the Toho team-ups, "Freddy vs Jason" or "Alien vs Predator". Let's not forget that the likes of "Batman v Superman" owes a lot to the format Universal originated.

    Anyway, it's disheartening when the obvious gets lost in the shuffle, when kind words and realistic assessments get misinterpreted. As fans, we should always be diligent to seek out (remember, that is) those reasons why a film resonates, why it's considered a classic. Rediscovery is a good thing, a respectful thing. I, for one, never wish to lose track of such.