A Just Another Spooky Sunday Installment
NECA (National Entertainment Collectibles Association) has just announced the second selection in its roll-out of Ultimate Universal Monsters Action Figures. Following the Frankenstein Monster, as portrayed by Boris Karloff NECA will release The Wolfman, honoring the film’s 80th anniversary year.
Boxed with interchangeable head, hand and lower leg sculpts the 7 inch figure can be depicted as Larry Talbot, victim of werewolf curse, as well as the full fledged beast under the spell of the full moon. The authorized depiction of Lon Chaney Jr. as Talbot is a special treat for classic monster enthusiasts and collectors. The two monster head sculpts meticulously evoke the art of master monster maker Jack Pierce.
Though shown to meet his demise at the end of the original film Chaney Jr.’s character continued to appear in Universal’s film roster for the next decade. He battled Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman and was a part of the gruesome ensembles of both House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945).
He was last seen in the still delightful Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) where the Talbot character featured prominently in the narrative. Chaney Jr’s playing straight man to Lou Costello’s nervous hub-bub sets up some of the best scenes in that film.
The Wolfman wasn’t Universal’s first foray into werewolf lore. In 1935 they released the stand alone tale Werewolf of London, with actor Henry Hull in the lead role. In retrospect that film may offer a higher creep factor and more unique spin on lycanthropy. Though Pierce’s make-up is rougher around the edges it also offers a more beast-like aspect.
Though my personal taste for werewolf films runs more in the vein of Hammer Films’ Curse of the Werewolf (1961) and The Howling (1981) it must be recognized that the poignancy of Chaney Jr’s characterization as monster and victim became a defining feature of filmic lycanthrope lore.