As the cooler days of autumn approach, I usually think of the Wolf Man. Strange? Perhaps. But I have many fond childhood memories playing “monster” with my friends at school.
Growing up in rural Wayne County, I enjoyed reading books from Steele Memorial Library. Among the library’s many collections was the Crestwood House “Monster” series. Each book contained black and white photos from the classic Universal Studio monster films of the 1930’s/40’s. It was here that I first saw the Wolf Man (my personal favorite), Frankenstein’s monster, and the Mummy. My friends and I would engage in deep discussions about which monster was stronger, and we even started our own “monster files” with profiles on each character.
Years later, imagine my delight when I stumbled across an old VHS recording of the Wolf Man. For the first time, I saw those wonderful characters come to life- Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.), Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains), and Bela (Bela Lugosi). The plot was written with great intelligence and wit. And it contained very little on-screen violence, and no “gore”. Instead, the movie relied on atmosphere- figuratively and literally.
It’s amazing how weather is used to evoke dread in film. So many of the classic monster stories are set upon fog-covered moors, cold castle keeps, and humid bogs. And what mad-scientist lab would be complete without a violent thunderstorm to power the creative contraptions? It seems that weather has application in the fantasy world as well.
(images courtesy of Universal Studios)