Flickchart Comment #21: Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) vs. The Old Dark House (1932)


A pretty easy choice, but allow me to offer my apologies to the later Universal horror pics of their original run in sound (not counting any silents in this). Certainly, except for The Wolf Man in 1941 and perhaps their mash-up with Abbott and Costello in 1948 (definitely a personal favorite over here), the bulk of the Universal horrors of the '40s pretty much occupy a well-defined second tier of quality. Still largely well-produced, and certainly the monsters still had some charm to spare, but pretty lame when compared to where they started out (and where RKO was at that time in history). 

Then there is The Old Dark House, from Frankenstein masterminds James Whale and Karloff, released a year after their initial great success. There is truly no comparison. The Old Dark House still holds up today as a darkly humorous satire of the then already wearying "haunted house" genre, the dialogue is still fairly crisp and even biting, and the performers, especially Karloff and Laughton, appear to be having a good deal of fun at the expense of their audience. Indeed, Frankenstein does meet the Wolfman, but both of their might and fright combined can't take the battle against a film which is a must for any horror fan seeking a greater historical sense of the genre.

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