A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No positive messages in horror classic.
Positive Role Models
No positive role models -- horror movie stock characters from the 1940s.
Violence & Scariness
Some horror movie violence and peril -- definitely tame by today's standards. Werewolf shown killing a woman from afar -- when her body is discovered, it's revealed that her throat was slit. Werewolf beaten to death with a walking stick; the man who attacks the werewolf gets bitten. Werewolf steps on a bear trap, shown injured and limping. Behavior that would be considered stalking today.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some incredibly awkward flirtation and behavior that would be considered stalking by today's standards -- lead character, while adjusting a telescope, spies on a woman as she takes off earrings while standing by a window. He then shows up at her place of work (below where she lives), and claims to be a psychic because he knows what kind of earrings she wore earlier in the day and where she put them in her room. He then literally doesn't take no for an answer after asking her to go out with him that night.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Most of the characters smoke either cigarettes or pipes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Wolf Man is a 1941 horror movie in which Lon Chaney Jr. plays a man who fights and kills a werewolf, only to become a werewolf after getting bitten during the fight. While some audiences may appreciate that this is considered to be an early horror classic, some of it has not aged well, and not only the limited special effects, questionable Welsh or English accents, and the near constant cigarette and pipe smoking. The lead character Larry (Chaney) has returned to his father's castle in Wales after being away for 18 years, and while fiddling with a large telescope, he ends up spying on a woman standing in a window and removing her earrings. He then goes to her place of work, located directly below where she had been standing, and claims to be a psychic, as he knows what earrings she was wearing earlier and where she put them when she took them off, and then uses as a way to ask her out repeatedly, and literally doesn't take "no" for an answer. In terms of violence, characters are strangled and killed from afar or beaten to death with walking sticks. In a later scene, the Wolf Man steps on a bear trap. Overall, the movie provides an opportunity for families to see how movies have evolved since the 1940s and our continued fascination with horror movies involving werewolves, vampires, zombies, and so on. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a classic horror movie that's showing its age. While movie buffs are sure to enjoy the acting and introduction of now-standard horror movie tropes in The Wolf Man, such as monster transformations, pentagrams, silver, etc., younger and more jaded audiences are likely to be put off by the dated special effects, the mediocre at best attempts at Welsh or English accents, and the scenes of flirtations between Chaney's character and the female lead that come across as aggressive stalking by today's standards.
Still, it's not without some period charm. There's a reliance on strong acting to carry the story and the scares as opposed to today's overreliance on blood, gore, and jump scares. It's also fun to imagine audiences seeing this when so many of the horror standards we now take for granted were new and unheard of. It also has some moments of unintentional humor -- "Larry" as the name of the werewolf, as in "Larry the Werewolf," doesn't exactly send shivers of terror, and sounds more like the name of a kindly werewolf in some contemporary children's story. It also features some of early horror's greatest actors. All this makes The Wolf Man fairly enjoyable, but what dates it is likely to make it less of a "timeless classic" with each passing year.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.