Article from Issue #014

"The Wolf Man vs. Dracula" - Unproduced Script

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It's difficult to get a straight answer but as I await word from the author (check back for updates), I have a review of what is claimed to be the unproduced script for The Wolf Man vs. Dracula. I don't normally give credit to internet rumors but when it's overwhelming, you can't help but think it has to be based on some truth. The charge is that author Philip J. Riley is unreliable and passes off fiction as fact. However, there are a decent amount of people backing up Mr. Riley's claims of authentication. Erring on the side of honesty, let's dig into this piece of forgotten film history.

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Mr. Riley has been involved in many books based on the Universal Monsters with his current series being 'An Alternate History for Classic Film Monsters'. This particular title begins with a short introduction based on the author's research into Bernard Schubert's first draft of The Wolf Man vs. Dracula. It states that it was intended to be a 1944 sequel to the previous year's 'Frankensteinn Meets the Wolf Man' though the opening scenes depict more accurately a continuation of 'House of Frankenstein'. Despite the confusion and the somewhat common spelling errors (whether by Schubert or Riley is unclear) it's a pleasant read.

The movie would have began with the discovery of Larry Talbot's non-decayed body in a grave alongside the skeleton of a woman. His clothes are tattered as if he's laid there perfectly preserved for many years. He is taken to Dr. Ziska's (I would assume a role that could have been filled by Patric Knowles) hospital where they discover a bullet lodged next to his heart. Just enough to keep it from beating and possibly leaving him in suspended animation. It's when they remove the bullet that Larry Talbot comes back to life. (I won't go into spoiler territory here, just as we do with movie reviews, so feel free to read on.)

As in 'Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man', Larry Talbot is the center of the story and he again is seeking to end his suffering as a lycanthrope. He finds the local hangman, Anatole (pronounced A-nu-toll), to end his life with a silver bullet. In a coincidence only possible in classic movies, Count Dracula happens to be paying Anatole a visit not only the same day, but the same time as Talbot. It looks like the Count is attempting to add the hangman's daughter, Yvonne, to his list of brides.

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Unfortunately for Larry, Anatole refuses to cooperate just as Yvonne refuses Dracula's request. Larry and Yvonne eventually decide the only way to save her is for them to be married immediately. I'm not really sure what Larry's interest was as he had no reason to suspect Dracula of anything yet and he hadn't fallen in love with Yvonne either. But again, it is a first draft. The kinks were to be sorted later and in the end it's supposed to be "turn off your brain" fun. Which really kicks in once Dracula is exposed and the full moon approaches.

I can't say The Wolf Man vs. Dracula would have been my favorite Universal Monster movie though the two may be my favorite of the monsters. Larry Talbot is never a sympathetic human as in the original and he hardly transforms into the Wolf Man. Dracula also is rarely the Count we love in the other movies and frequently takes on the form of a giant bat instead. More importantly is the fact that the Wolf Man and Dracula never really clash in their respective forms.

The story feels a lot like fan fiction and the scenes are even described with notes to reuse sets from the previous movies. There aren't any quotable lines that we've missed from it's lack of production but I will always wish there had been more Universal Monster movies. Bela Lugosi's Dracula would have been an interesting match for Larry Talbot especially since his Bela the gypsy character was the one to initially turn him into a werewolf. Lugosi was also Frankenstein's Monster in the previously mentioned FMtWM so they have some scores to settle.

On my second read-through, I can comfortably recommend this script to fans. It's a shame there is a stigma hanging over it which would be partially vanquished with a bargain bin price tag. But you can't expect as much with a title that requires a small printing company. If all turns out proper and this is indeed an extremely rare behind-the-scenes look at one of movie history's greatest franchises, the price is more than justified.

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