I just watched Joe Johnston’ 2010 remake of The Wolfman with Benicio del Toro as the unfortunate Lawrence Talbot. The basic story seems to have been largely based upon Curt Siodmek’s script for the 1941 original starring Lon Chaney, Claude Rains and Bela Lugosi. Most of the characters who are central to the plot retain their names and functions, but other than that there had been quite a lot of tinkering with the plot.
The biggest element of that is the retrofitting of the story into a some kind of Hammer Horror Victorian Britain. Much of the action takes place in moodily shot woodland, very similar to that so often utilised in the classic Hammer Draculas (although with the bigger budget it’s free of the occasional continuity errors where Hammer’s cameramen forgot about the night filters), but the Hammer production it reminded me most of was Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde, not so much from the point of view of the plot, but because of the co-opting of a real historical character in the form of Ripper cop Inspector Abberline played by Hugo Weaving who is assigned to investigate the werewolf killings. There is also an element of Inspector Mulroony from Hammer’s The Mummy (1959) in Weaving’s performance. while the use of the family house also reminded me of the same film (except that The Wolfman‘s budget stretched to location shooting at Chatsworth House, while Hammer filmed most of their early films at their studio in Bray House) .
One of the problems for me with post Hammer big budget remakes of classic horrors is their basic lack of humour (I’m discounting the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies which, although they were played for laughs, were in my opinion pretty dire CGI fests). With a A list cast including Tony Hopkins, Art Malik and Emily Blunt everybody was taking their roles very seriously and being an actor. I could have done with gurning undertaker or barman in the mould of Michael Ripper, one of the few actors to have a technique named after him. The other problem with this film in particular was the rather over the top gory violence effects,with body parts flying all over the shop, bit too much of that when it’s not really needed. And while suspension of belief is necessary for any film and particularly the horror genre, I just didn’t buy Tony Hopkins being Benicio del Toro’s dad. Sadly del Toro’s dive through the Manor House window towards the end of the movie inadvertently reminded me of Father Jack doing the same at Craggy Island Parochial House in Father Ted.