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Narrative: B-Movies, The Wolf Man (1941)

Figure 1: 'The Wolf Man' (1941) Poster

This film review will focus on the film 'The Wolf Man' (1941), the story follows a man by the name of Larry Talbot who recently came back to Talbot Mansion. On one eventful Larry finds himself in a fight with a wolf, however, this is no ordinary wolf, it is a werewolf. As time goes on Larry begins to realize his horrible fate, it all lead up to the town going on a great hunt in order to find the beast before it finds them.

The film was released in 1941, was directed by George Waggner and was written by Curt Siodmak and the cinematography was done by Joseph Valentine. 

The topic for this film will be about B-Movies, this film was an assigned task for the years group, so we all had to go find a B-Movie from the 1940's or the 1950's. A well-known B-Movie was The Wolf Man, so in this review, there will be a breakdown of The Good, The Bad, and the Hairy Larry.

What are B-Movies?

B-Movies are films usually made with an extremely low budget with the hope of making lots of money. The main difference between a full blockbuster film and a B-movie is that a blockbuster whilst still having much higher production values they can sometimes be restricted due to the fact they are usually continuations of other films.

The Wolf Man, however, is different as it is inspired by the old folklore legend of werewolves rather than a continuation of something else. This film is quite a good representation of what is expected of a B-Movie, but instead of being a continuation of something is created something new from the old.

Figure 2: The Wolfman

What is usually expected of a B-Movie?

You can usually expect a lot of low budget special effects, this is because B-Movies have an extremely low budget, so they need to save as much money as possible. A good example of this are props, sets, effects and actors who are constantly re-used to save money, rather than just creating all new assets from scratch, saving money in the long run.

Also, whilst still some B-Movies are really well created they only have a set amount of time to complete a project, this can sometimes lead to some takes of a sequence to be much less refined, unlike AAA movies which have the budget and time to get the exact shots they want. Time constraints can also sometimes lead to a very weak story or a story that can have a few flaws. So whilst some B-movies can still be a really good watch, no-one should ever expect anything spectacular.

Figure 3: Larry

The Good
  • Does its job 
  • Set's are very decent 
  • There are subtle clue to the story throughout the film 
  • The characters all feel good 
  • The whole film has good progression except for one part. 

The film as whole works, you get the 90-minute experience everyone expected and whilst the film may not be very high in production value it still works as a film, watchable and enjoyable, to an extent. The sets in the film are also very well done, having the fog in a lot of the sets really gives the film a spooky atmosphere. The sets, whilst still being great, do lose their sense of location and depth once you start seeing thew same forest set over and over again.

The film's best point is how it portrays the story to you before it even happens. During the film, your are given little clues so you can try to piece together the whole film before it even gets to the halfway point. Two good examples the star with five side constantly makes an appearance and Larry's subtle emotional changes as he realizes what is about to happen to him. The movie is packed to the brim with this stuff, the only real flaw with this is that the plot can be figured out at about the halfway point for the film, making the rest of the film a waiting game. The characters in the film also feel flushed out and real, at no real point was there a moment where any of the characters could be severely disliked, and finally, the pacing of the film is very well done apart from the end.

The Bad

The main problem with the film is its ending, not the contents of it but rather 'How' it ends, the gang find Larry as the Werewolf and kill him. Now usually with any sort of ending there is some sort of slope outwards to represent a nice ease out of the film as seen in the Freytag's Pyramid. Instead of having a slope to ease the film out the plot does a complete dead dive and ends instantly. The reason for this was probably because how restricted the team would have been for time and money.

Another point that can be easily spotted is multiple reused assets, stated earlier was the re-use of assets in the film. Using multiple actors in some scenes is quite common but still seeing these things over and over again can really take the mood out of a film. Some set assets can be understandable in this aspect but multiple people is a quick way to kill depth and remind you this is just a play.

Image Bibliography

Figure 1: 'The Wolf Man' (1941) Poster

Figure 2: The Wolfman

Figure 3: Larry