We begin a month of movies populated by a variety of various types of monsters with one of the originals! Last month, you saw the origins of the Larry Talbot Wolf Man- but tonight on MeTV we present the first of Universal Studios’ wolf men- who brings terror to England via Tibet- as the victim of an accursed attack that triggers a hideous transformation when exposed to moonlight- the "Werewolf of London"!
We find botanist Wilfred Glendon and his assistant on an expedition to Tibet – seeking a rare flower that only grows in the high altitudes- and will only bloom in the light of a full moon. Despite dire warnings and strange, seemingly supernatural, occurrences- Wilfred finally discovers the plant high upon a mountain- only to find himself attacked by a mysterious creature! He survives the attack, though bitten in the process (actually, he was bitten in the arm- oh, you know what I mean), and manages to procure a single specimen of the flower- whose botanical name is the mariphasa.
Returning to England with his new specimen, he goes into solitude, locking himself in his botanical laboratory to study the plant. Even his beautiful wife Lisa finds it difficult to lure him out of the lab for a party- eventually coercing him to come out and greet the flock of visitors. Wilfred finds them a distraction, and would rather return to his work- though he notices an old friend of Lisa’s is paying a bit TOO much attention to his lovely spouse. Then- a new and unfamiliar visitor arrives- one Professor Yogami, begging to converse with Wilfred, claiming he encountered him on his Tibet trip- though Wilfred has no recollection of their meeting. Yogami begins a supernatural tale involving the newly-acquired plant; warning Wilfred that the bite he suffered in that fracas ( or, the arm- oh, you know what I mean) might cause him to become a werewolf! He then reveals that utilizing the bloom of the mariphasa plant is the only way to stop that transformation!
Wilfred, being a man of science, discounts the story as a superstitious legend- but soon learns differently. During his experimentation, he is using a lamp that simulates moonlight to encourage the plant to blossom, and when his hand strays into the light- it becomes furry! He experiences the full effect when an actual full moon occurs- and he completely transforms into a werewolf- in a wonderful shot of him gradually changing as he moves between pillars ! Even in that state, he still has the presence of mind to recall that he can use the rare flower to stave off the horrible change- and heads into the lab- only to find that someone has taken the few blossoms that had bloomed, sending Wilfred out on the prowl through the streets of London!
When the full moon’s effects have worn off, Wilfred feverishly attempts to get more blossoms to bloom before the next moon cycle. His relentless pursuit of the cure wears even more on the strained relationship with his wife, who feels rejected and turns to her old childhood sweetheart for comfort. Since the plant is taking time to flower again, Wilfred attempts to keep from harming anyone by taking a room in a low-rent inn where he can lock himself in each night. Regardless of his precautions, the next full moon has the same horrible effect on him- and he escapes his self-imposed imprisonment to again roam the city streets in search of victims. His greatest fear is of that one part of the old werewolf legend will prove to be true- that a werewolf will instinctively kill the one he loves the most! Can Lisa- and London itself- escape the savage power of the supernatural?
As I mentioned, this 1935 film is truly the first werewolf in the Universal horror catalog- preceding Larry Talbot- the best-known Wolf Man who first appeared in 1941. You’ll hear about the cast members like Henry Hull and Valerie Hobson- and those who found fame in other roles- like Spring Byington- who became a popular star of early TV- as well as Warner Oland, who made his mark in the movies as a beloved detective character. We'll also give you some in-depth information regarding the werewolf make-up- thanks to information provided to us by Cortlandt Hull, whose great uncle Henry stars in tonight's film. Thanks to Cortlandt, we are able to tell you the actual true story about Hull's make-up – and clear up some misinformation and downright untruths that have been passed around as fact for years. (Again, we ask our blog commenters who might know the facts to PLEASE keep them to themselves until after the show airs). Plus- the first in a series this month of our drawing game “Too Drawn Out”!
"Werewolf of London" airs on MeTV tonight at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central, and, if unsure when or where we are on in your area, just check your local TV listings or go to www.metv.com and click on "where to watch". You can live-Tweet during the show on Twitter with the many Sven fans who do so-using the hashtag # svengoolie. In Chicago, local viewers can chill with “The Land Unknown” this morning at 11 am on the U.
Join us for one Hull of a time tonight when things get hairy on MeTV!