Well, I am fudging on the year again this week, mostly because I had 1941's "The Wolf Man" in my queue and felt like watching it. And here at From the Vaults, that means I felt like writing about it! Let's go!
Starring lovable lummox Lon Chaney Jr., this is the Universal classic that helped create the modern werewolf trope, embroidering moonlight, silver and pentagrams onto an Old World shape-changer story. (As with "The Mummy," there's no direct source material.) Lycanthropic hero/monster Larry Talbot would go on to be resurrected Jason-style in a string of sequels, all featuring Chaney, whose name became synonymous with the role -- his character is even listed in the opening credits as just "The Wolf Man." (I guess there wasn't much point trying to surprise the audience.) To watch this movie is to watch horror history. It's even got Bela Lugosi!
After his older brother's death, Larry comes home to the family estate, still run by his hale and hearty dad (a no-nonsense Claude Rains). As horror heroes go, Larry's not a real cerebral guy -- he's not theatrical like Dracula or brainy like Dr. Frankenstein or interested in raiding old tombs like all those "Mummy" guys. He's more of a guy's guy, who likes to fix stuff and check out babes; after repairing his dad's telescope, he's soon using it to spy on beautiful shopgirl Gwen (Evelyn Ankers). Gwen turns out to be engaged, but persistent Larry gallantly escorts her and a friend to a gypsy fair anyway. Big mistake!