Werewolf of London is a horror film released in 1935. Produced by Universal, it is the first werewolf film made in Hollywood.
While searching for a rare plant in Tibet, wealthy botanist Wilfred Glendon is bitten by a werewolf. After the incident he returns home to find his wife, more and more estranged from her neglectful husband, turning in her loneliness to her childhood sweetheart, Paul Ames. Glendon also meets the mysterious Dr. Yogami, who wishes to see the rare plant that Glendon has found, the Marifasa lupina, as its blossoms form the only cure against werewolf transformation albeit a temporary one. Soon afterward, the remaining Marifasa is stolen and Glendon starts transforming on the nights of full moon. Each night people die and soon Scotland Yard is after him.
Werewolf make-up was designed by the legendary Jack Pierce, who later worked on that other well-known werewolf film, The Wolf Man (1941).
This film contains the examples of:
- Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: As evidenced by Glendon and his wife.
- Beast Man: The design of the werewolves in this film is closer to this portrayal than the popular Wolf Man design.
- Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: A continual feature of the Universal Horror films of this period. The character of Paul Ames is introduced largely for this purpose.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Glendon's cat.
- Fainting: Aunt Ettie faints when she sees werewolf Glendon the second time.
- Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks: Botanist Wilfred Glendon has a table in his laboratory (otherwise devoted to electrical equipment, his moon lamp in particular) that features among other things an enormous retort, several huge graduated cylinders, racks of test tubes with cotton swabs as stoppers, bottles of various liquids and powders, and the expected conical flasks and beakers. He never uses them, and they appear to effectively just be set dressing.
- Lady Drunk: Both Mrs. Whack and Mrs. Moncaster.
- Love Triangle: Among Glendon, his wife Lisa, and her childhood friend Paul.
- Meaningful Name: Mrs. Whack. She gets many whacks to the head from Mrs. Moncaster.
- No Peripheral Vision: While approaching the Glendon household, Paul somehow misses Glendon crouching on the porch roof before he attacks.
- Novelization: A surprisingly decent one by Carl Dreadstone released as part of the Universal Horror Library in the 70's. It is told in the form of an extended flashback from Glendon's point of view so some characters like Paul Ames are barely present, and it has a different ending. Glendon and Yogami try to have themselves hypnotized into not becoming werewolves. It doesn't work.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Simple bullets can kill them, a certain Tibetan plant can counteract their transformations for a night, and they retain human intelligence (enough to think of putting on a coat and avoid crowds to stay hidden) even in the midst of bloodlust. As Yogami says, they have the worst traits of both men and wolves.
- Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: A priest answers this way when Glendon and his friend inquire of him about the valley where the Marifasa lupina is supposed to bloom.
- Those Two Guys: Mrs. Whack and Mrs. Moncaster, two old lady drunks who tend to knock each other about on the slightest provocation.
- Tragic Monster: We get two in this film, both Glendon and Yogami. The latter's characterization is oddly deep for one of these movies — he does evil acts, and happily abandons Glendon to bouts of lycanthropic insanity, but at the same time he deeply regrets his own killings.
- Transformation Sequence: Glendon gets several of them.
- Victorious Childhood Friend: Paul, by the end.
- Weird Moon: The moon is full for four nights straight.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Renwick, the guy with Glendon in Tibet. He is overcome by... whatever and Glendon just sort of abandons him and forgets he exists. He may have been one of the people at the party later but this doesn't answer where the heck he was when Glendon was getting attacked, or why Glendon just left him.
- The X of Y
- Your Cheating Heart: One of the victims is Alf the zookeeper, who is about cheat on his wife with his girlfriend — before Glendon kills said girlfriend. There's no mention of what happens to Alf.
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