Following up last week’s movie featuring Universal Studios’ first werewolf- tonight on MeTV, we have Universal’s most enduring werewolf- the man-beast whose repeated appearances in various movies during the Universal classic monsters cycle were always played by the same actor- Lon Chaney Jr. We are proud to present the origin story of when the tortured Larry Talbot was first cursed to transform, during every full moon, into- the “ Wolf Man”!
The story begins in a melancholy mood- young Lawrence is returning to the ancestral Talbot home in England, to mourn the passing of his brother but, more importantly, to reconcile with his father. He joins his dad, an amateur astronomer, just in time to help him by working on a new telescope that has just been delivered. In a rather disturbing development, while testing the new instrument, Larry plays peeping tom and ogles an attractive young woman in an apartment window in town. This somewhat privacy invading glance from afar leads Larry to head into town to try and find this blonde beauty. He succeeds, finding this local lass- the lovely Gwen -working in her father’s shop just below the apartment where he had glimpsed her. The smart shop girl seems to be unimpressed by this stranger- especially after learning that he was spying on her! Regardless of that, and unwilling to give up easily, Larry persists and makes a purchase- a walking stick with a heavy silver handle- shaped like a savage wolf. Spotting a caravan of gypsies (as they are called in this era- though the term is not politically correct these days), he does his best to persuade Gwen to go out with him that evening to enjoy the caravan’s entertainment. The clever young woman actually does shows up for the “date”- but was wise enough to invite her girlfriend Jenny along, much to Larry’s surprise- and disappointment!
They visit the camp the traveling group of Romani has set up to reside in while entertaining the townsfolk. The carefree happy mood of the evening changes when the friends decide to partake in the custom of having their fortunes told. While Larry and Gwen wander off, young Jenny goes first- only to have the fortune teller, Bela (played by a real-life Bela- Bela Lugosi!), see the fateful sign of the pentagram on her hand. He abruptly ends the session, shouting at her to leave at once- and the frightened Jenny flees, running blindly out onto the moors.
Shortly after, Larry and Gwen hear her shocking shrieks, and Larry runs towards the cries, only to see a huge wolf attacking the helpless girl! Using his silver-handled walking stick, he beats the wolf to death, getting bitten during his failed attempt to save Jenny’s life. The local authorities come to investigate and find the body of the attacker-but discover it is no beast at all, but-a man! Larry insists what he killed was a wolf- not a man- but he can’t convince the authorities or the local folk that he is telling the truth.
Larry returns to the camp- where he meets the wise elder Maleva- who reveals a shocking truth to him- that the "wolf" he killed was her son Bela- who had transformed into a werewolf! When she hears that Larry was bitten by Bela, she warns him that now he too will become a wolf when the full moon rises! She instructs him on werewolf lore- delivering the oft-quoted rhyme that forebodes Larry’s fate- and cautions him that he will see the sign of the pentagram in the hand of his victims. She provides him with whatever tokens of protection she can, but needs him to understand that he will never be able to escape this awful supernatural curse.
When the full moon rises- Larry sadly discovers that she speaks the truth. Meanwhile, the stories of Jenny’s death and the “murder” of Bela spread, and the townspeople all think he didn’t do enough to save Jenny- and is a killer to boot! They treat him like a pariah, unwelcome and despised by the populace. His father begins to worry that Larry is having psychological problems, and tries his best to get him the help he needs, hoping to protect this son with whom he has only recently made peace.
While the locals set traps for a wolf, with the full moon coming again, Larry Talbot must convince his father of the horrible truth- and get his help in keeping the Wolf Man from going on the prowl and killing again!
The Larry Talbot character- always portrayed by Chaney Jr.- went on to appear in four additional Universal films after his 1941 debut and, in later films, seemed too obsessed with wanting to die- but always stayed true to the character. We’ll talk about the cast members like Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, the afore-mentioned Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskya, and Ralph Bellamy, among others. We'll deliver a musical number, as usual- and, to make up for the lack of conventions recently- show highlights of the live on-stage “40 Years as Svengoolie” interview we did at a past Flashback Weekend horror convention with our friend Nick Digilio, who now has his own podcast- the Nick D Podcast on Radio Misfits ( available most places you find your podcasts)!
"Wolf Man" is on tonight at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central, or, check for channel and time in your local listings or at www.metv.com . MeTV invites you, as always, to live-Tweet during the show on Twitter- and use the hashtag #svengoolie. For the past few weeks, we were among the top subjects trending nationally! Our Chicago area viewers can get a second look at that first Universal wolf man, “Werewolf of London" at 11 am on Chicago’s CW26.
Make sure you visit our store and take a look at the new deluxe Sven Tervis drinkware-and check out the licensed new Sven design t shirts at www.fright-rags.com! Also, if you still want to vote for yours truly- or whoever your favorite horror host is- in the Rondo awards, make sure you do so before next Sunday night, April 17. Remember, you can only vote once, must include your name and e mail address, and can vote in just that category ( Category 21- favorite horror host of 2021) or in as many or as few categories as you wish. Just make sure to follow all the rules! You’ll find the ballot and full info at www.rondoaward.com
As I mentioned in our newsletter, tomorrow, Sunday, April 10th, my alter ego Rich Koz will be joining SNL’s Tim Kazurinsky, Kevin Murphy and Mary Jo Pehl of “Mystery Science Theatre”, Jim O’Heir of “Parks and Recreation”,Scott Lowell of “Queer as Folk” and more for the long-delayed live on-stage 50th anniversary event for the radio show “Those Were the Days” hosted by Steve Darnall and radio veteran Ken Alexander, which has been presenting classic old radio programs for decades every Saturday afternoon, currently on WDCB-FM and online as well! The celebration will feature music and recreations of many old radio shows, complete with sound effects, by a live and noteworthy cast. The event takes place at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago. For information, just go to Those Were the Days Anniversary Celebration Tickets, Chicago | Eventbrite. Please note, for the safety of our performers and the audience, they are discouraging doing a “meet and greet”.
Meanwhile,join us tonight, as, once again, we learn how even a viewer who’s pure of heart and says his prayers by night- can enjoy Lon Chaney Jr. with his fur and over-bite!