Under the familiar weight
Of winter, conscience and the State,
In loose formations of good cheer,
Love, language, loneliness and fear,
Towards the habits of next year,
Along the streets the people flow,
Singing or sighing as they go:
Exalte, piano, or in doubt,
All our reflections turn about
A common meditative norm,
Retrenchment, Sacrifice, Reform.
So I finally watched “The Wolf Man” (1941) for the first time a few nights ago, and I indeed had a lot of fun with it. Sure, it’s tame by today’s standards, and bit corny too, but it was interesting watching Lon Chaney, Jr. for the first time and seeing the granddaddy of all werewolf films.
Here are a few things that jumped out at me while watching the film and reading a bit about it afterward (and, yes, I do realize that most people already knew these things):
I just need a Halloween horror playlist, though. I’ve already seen this year’s “Castle Rock” and (of course) the second season of “Mr. Mercedes.”
“Vampire” (1979) and “The Last Broadcast” (1998) both come highly recommended by some horror-fan friends that I truly trust. I also believe that I have never seen any of the classic Universal Studios monster movies in their entirety. I’ve watched bits and pieces of a couple of them on television when I was a young kid, including “Creature From the Black Lagoon” (1954) and “The Invisible Man” (1933). When I was a tot in the very late 70’s, the studio’s Gothic monsters were still very much a part of the zeitgeist … my older brother even had the Aurora model kits. I finally enjoyed F. W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu” for the first time a couple of years ago, but of course the 1921 German film preceded the Universal movies, which re-imagined Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” entirely in 1931.
I’ll probably start first by trying to hunt down a copy of “The Wolf Man” (1941). That’s the one that other everyone always recommends.
Tempura on panel.
Assuming you beach at last
Near Atlantis, and begin
The terrible trek inland
Through squalid woods and frozen
Tundras where all are soon lost;
If, forsaken then, you stand,
Stone and snow, silence and air,
O remember the great dead
And honour the fate you are,
Travelling and tormented,
Dialectic and bizarre.
Stagger onward rejoicing;
And even then if, perhaps
Having actually got
To the last col, you collapse
With all Atlantis shining
Below you yet you cannot
Descend, you should still be proud
Even to have been allowed
Just to peep at Atlantis
In a poetic vision:
Give thanks and lie down in peace,
Having seen your salvation.
All the little household gods
Have started crying, but say
Good-bye now, and put to sea.
Farewell, my dear, farewell: may
Hermes, master of roads,
And the four dwarf Kabiri,
Protect and serve you always;
And may the Ancient of Days
Provide for all you must do
His invisible guidance,
Lifting up, dear, upon you
The light of His countenance.
— excerpt from W. H. Auden’s “Atlantis,” January 1941
Photo credit: Lis Burke [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.
Here’s what looks like a publicity still for “The Wolf Man” (1941); this is part of my efforts to monster up the blogosphere a bit this Halloween.
For some reason, it seems weird to me that the classic Universal monster movies came out before America entered World War II. They really ARE old movies.
I had a children’s book about the making of the Universal classics when I was a kid. I remember reading how Lon Chaney, Jr.’s makeup had to be applied — each hair was apparently placed there strand by strand. And audiences back then were quite thrilled with the result.