The Werewolf of London

Year: 1935
Studio: Universal
Director: Stuart Walker
Writer: John Colton/Robert Harris
Cast: Henry Hull, Warner Oland

The original The Wolf Man with Claude Rains and Lon Chaney - along with many of the classic Universal monsters of the 1930s - was a thrilling new take on a very old mythology but would have trouble really affecting most moviegoers today. The scares were signposted a mile away, the make-up effects (while groundbreaking for the time) were ropey and the special effects budget wouldn't buy the star's Evian water nowadays.

I read the novel upon which The Werewolf of London is based when I was a kid and loved it, so I was very keen to see this film. It's the story of adventurer and biologist Glendon (Hull) who travels to deepest darkest Tibet to find a rare flower called the mariphasa, which blooms in the full moon and is said to have a strange effect on people.

While carefully securing the buds he finds, Hull is attacked by a beast that seems part wolf and part man, surviving with only bites and scratches, returning to London and his pouting fiancé to start his experiments with the flower.

He builds a machine that replicates moonlight but is shocked to discover it affects him too, making him sprout hair and fangs and giving him an appetite for blood.

At the same time, a mysterious Japanese biologist named Dr Yogami tries to get five minutes of Glendon's time to warn him of the curse he faces of running through the London streets howling at the moon and eating people before it's too late.

The acting is classic 30s style, very staged and theatrical. The guy playing Yogami is the worst native of Japan the other side of Mickey Rooney's impression in Breakfast at Tiffany's and appears to be either drunk or reading off cue cards.

If you can look past the claustrophobic production, hammy acting and yak-hair werewolf make-up the story's all in there, but it's hard to do.

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