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Old August 17 2008, 11:35 AM   #164
Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
Return of the Wolf Man is pretty good and interesting so far. It's pretty obvious that the author knows his stuff where Talbot is concerned, because he ties in little moments to all of the films in which he appeared, and best of all, gets the "sound" of him right. You can very easily imagine Lon Chaney, Jr. delivering the dialogue.
Oh, yeah, that's what I like to hear.

Hopefully, this next bit isn't too spoilery for you, but since it deals with part of the premise of the book--even the title, really--I'm assuming you won't mind too much.
Nah, I devour spoilers like a wolfman devouring his prey.

The author brings the Wolf Man to the present (well, 1998, anyway). The interesting thing is, he does it within the trappings of the story. Softly after the events of Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, Larry convinces the Joan Raymond character to help him die by getting him in the heart with a shard of mirror with a silver backing. He makes her promise to hide his body somewhere and make sure the shard never comes out, lest he be restored to life.

Then we find out the Frankenstein Monster was sealed down there, too. That's where I am now.
You know, I always wished there was a House Of The Wolfman movie.

I wasn't sure if I'd like the move to the present, but in a pleasantly creative decision, the author doesn't just fast-forward to 1998, he plants it in a 1998 of the Universal, er, Universe. So there are no "Wait, Dracula's real?!" moments or anything corny like that. When Talbot tells her of how Henry Frankenstein built a monster out of dead bodies, she's never heard of Frankenstein or his Monster. So there aren't any goofy metafictional moments, like we've sort of come to expect. I braced myself for a sentence like, "That must be the source for Mary Shelley's novel!" but it never came.
Yeah, jumping to the present is a decision I'd question, if only because it negates the possibility of so many stories set over that time span (who wouldn't want to see the Universal Frankenstein and Wolfman in the days of drive-ins and sock hops?). But it's not a deal breaker. It would certainly be interesting to speculate on what literature and pop culture looks like in that universe, since those novels are so influential; not only would thousands of books, movies, TV shows and comic books cease to exist, but there would be no Munsters!

In that sense, it accomplishes bringing the novel to modern times, while still making it feel like a genuine continuation. And in perfect Talbot manner, when he's told the year, he says, "Then there really is no end to this horror. The curse is forever." That's our guy.
Yup. Poor melancholy Larry. It really sounds like this book is a labor of love from somebody who really knows, understands and respects the source material, which is wonderful (I wish that was the case with every concept revival we see). The Dark Horse books were good enough on their own, but as alleged Universal continuations they were lacking in that respect and continuity.

I just thought of something else. Not only were Dracula and Frankenstein real in that universe, but so were Abbott and Costello; so the history of comedy would be very different, too.
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