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Literature / Return Of The Wolf Man

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Return of the Wolf Man is a 1998 novel by Jeff Rovin tying in with Universal Horror films. It revolves around Larry Talbot, the werewolf character who made his debut in The Wolf Man (1941) and was re-used in crossover films such as Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
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The story begins with a recap of the ending of Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, in which it is revealed that the Wolf Man survived his apparent death during his fight with Count Dracula. He meets the film's heroine, Joan Raymond, and after turning back into a human he convinces her to kill him and carry out a specific burial so that he will never be resurrected.

Fifty years later, in 1998, a group of people inadvertently revive the Wolf Man. Once he reverts to human form he is befriended by Caroline Cooke, Joan Raymond's niece. His initial concern is how to be killed once and for all, but his attentions are turned elsewhere when it transpires that Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster are back on the scene.

It was followed by two sequels, The Devil's Brood and The Devil's Night, by David Jacobs.

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This novel provides examples of:

  • Artistic License – Geography: Talbot is identified as having lived in "Wales, England". Throughout the rest of the novel the names of the two countries are used more or less interchangeably.
  • Continuity Porn: Talbot ended up existing in the same cinematic universe as Dracula, Frankenstein and the Invisible Man; the novel takes this as a cue to create a Massive Monster Mash Crossover working various other Universal horror films into the same continuity. The narrative touches upon the events of House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, The Mummy's Tomb, Revenge of the Creature, The Deadly Mantis, The Monolith Monsters, Werewolf of London, Horror Island and, Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy, amongst others.
    • Some references are more faithful than others. Sandra Mornay from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is given a father named Miklos Mornay who "used electricity... to give additional strength and stamina to the bodies of the living [but] succeeded only in immolating dozens of people." This seems to be a reference to Man Made Monster - but the mad scientist in that was named Paul Rigas.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The novel is a direct sequel to Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein; arguably, it owes a bigger debt to this film than to any other Universal horror, even opening with a recap of that film's climax. And yet, from reading this novel, you'd never know that the film was a comedy.
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  • Immortality Seeker: The book fleshes out Dracula's origin story, which is hinted at in the Bram Stoker novel but never mentioned in the Univeral films. During life, while studying at Scholomance, he made a Deal with the Devil for immortality. You can guess how that turned out.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Henry Pratt is named after Boris Karloff, whose real name was William Henry Pratt. Oddly, the main character Caroline Cooke appears to have been named after an uncredited extra who appeared in The Wolf Man (1941) (and The Mummy's Ghost).
    • It's not just characters: the novel names a cinema after Val Lewton (one of Universal's rival horror producers) and a brand of battery after special effects man Kenneth Strickfaden.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Played with when the novel addresses some of the inconsistencies and oddities in the films. The book establishes that Talbot becomes the Wolf Man on the days immediately before and after a full moon, thereby explaining his strangely frequent transformations in the movies. The idea that lycranthropy effects different people in different ways is also brought up, hence why Bela Lugosi's character in The Wolf Man (1941) turned into a four-legged wolf.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: One of the survivors of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is killed off in the novel's prologue, which also reveals that one of the characters from House of Dracula was killed by Talbot shortly after the events of that film.
  • Unexplained Accent: Averted. In the Wolf Man films, Talbot has an American accent - despite being being the son of a British lord. The novel mentions his accent but establishes that he had an American mother and grew up in California.
  • Voodoo Zombie: Dracula has some of these as his assistants; they are revealed to have been created by the magic of Legendre from White Zombie.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Played with. A few hanging plot threads from the films are picked up: for example, in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Mr. McDougal survives being bitten by the Wolf Man; the novel establishes that he became a werewolf himself.
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