Yo, time for a movie review! I recently saw Werewolf of London, a classic Universal flick from the 30s that is often forgotten due to the popularity of the iconic Wolf Man, and decided to take a closer look at it.
Is it really just a lesser precursor to a beloved film? Or is it something more? And, of course, does it have a comprehensive Enneagram?
Well, I’m going to find out.
First, before I start rambling about the Enneagram of the story, I should ramble about the similarities and differences between this film and its thematic successor.
In the Wolf Man, there are a few simple rules to being a werewolf, the “rules of the magic.” At this point in history, pretty much everyone has heard of these rules:
You become a werewolf if bitten by another,
As a werewolf, you are nearly immortal, and the only weapon capable of fatally injuring you is something made of silver (a bullet, a wolf-shaped cane, a spoon, etc.), and,
You transform under a full moon. Technically, this last one doesn’t exist in the Wolf Man; in that film, it is only an autumn moon that causes the transformation.
So where’d the “full moon” rule come from? Well, mythology, yeah, I guess, but I’m inclined to believe most olde filmmakers got it from Werewolf in London. Here are the “rules of the magic:”
You become a werewolf if bitten by another (this is a staple, I guess),
You transform under a full moon (yada, yada, yada . . .),
As a werewolf, you instinctively seek to murder your loved ones (wait, what? Intense!), and,
You might have super strength, but you don’t have any silver-sensitivity: anything can kill you (a bullet, a wolf-shaped cane, a spoon, etc.).
One other interesting difference between the two films’ rules are the nature of the werewolf:
In the Wolf Man, lycanthropy (werewolfism) is basically nothing more than an odd natural disease that brings out the more animalistic features of a man (fur and fangs, a reliance on pure instinct rather than brainpower, the need to walk on your toes).
In Werewolf ‘o’ London, however, the “nature” of a werewolf is anything but natural. To quote Dr. Yagomi, the film’s antagonist:
“The werewolf is neither man nor wolf, but a Satanic creature with the worst qualities of both.”
Now things are getting interesting! Enough of this, let’s delve into the story itself and try and glean its Enneagram. Beware, this review will be filled to the brim with SPOILERS!
The movie starts up in Tibet, where we’re introduced to the very British protagonist, Dr. Wilfred Glendon. Glendon, a middle-aged botanist, has been spending the last six months looking for a bizarre (and fictitious) plant, the mariphasa, which blooms only under a full moon. Glendon has traveled here with a buddy believing his long botanical quest to be at an end.
While getting ready to climb he mountain where the mariphasa lies, a priest pops out of the aether to politely warn them that going up said mountain would probably be the worst decision in the history of forever and that Glendon should give up on his foolish search right now.
Of course, Glendon reflexively ignores the priest and goes to find the plant, dragging his buddy after him.
Time for the trouble! It’s pretty simple, really: Glendon, leaving his unimportant buddy behind, reaches the mariphasa and is promptly attacked by a werewolf. It manages to bite his arm, but it’s clearly out of shape so Glendon easily drives it off.
After procuring the plant and dressing his wound, Glendon returns to England.
Here we get the gist of Glendon’s scientific lifestyle and meet his wife, Lisa; the two have a slightly strained relationship, since Glendon seems to have more interest in odd lunar plant life than babes.
Enter – Paul!
Who is Paul, you ask? Why, he’s the Three! Err, well, he’s the most logical Three I can find, anyway.
Paul is Lisa’s childhood sweetheart, someone she hasn’t seen for at least a decade, who just happens to visit a party Glendon and Lisa are attending. His timing is extremely inconvenient for Glendon: at a time when he and his wife are having problems, who should show up but a young, dashing, and distinctly American guy to tempt Lisa with thoughts of leaving Glendon.
The problem with the Three above (besides it being relatively tame), is that Glendon abruptly runs into another person at the party, a character much more interesting and charismatic than dear ol’ Paul.
This man instantly catches the eye, and even better/worse, he’s the bringer of the “rules of the magic!” He confronts Glendon, promptly informs him that he is about to turn into a Satanic monster, and strongly hints that he is the werewolf that bit him in Tibet. He also explains that the mariphasa is an antidote for lycanthropy: not a permanent cure, but something to halt nightly transformations.
So, why don’t I vouch for Yogami as the Three? Simply because, if he is, then the film has no Six moment. I’ll elaborate when I get to that later.
Anyway, the rest of the Four is actually quite dull. Specifically, all that occurs is that Glendon finds that he believes Yogami’s warning (when his hands get fuzzy under a full moon) and quickly uses one of the plants he took from Tibet to ward off a transformation. He only has four in his secret garden, but takes heart that the moon will only be full for four days anyway, so he has nothing to fear.
Or does he?!
The Four-Five-Switch happens on the second night of the full moon, when Yagomi sneaks into Glendon’s garden and steals two of the plants. When Glendon starts feeling like a furry, he goes to use another flower, but finds that only one remains, and (for no apparent reason) it refuses to bloom tonight.
So, the true Switch moment occurs: Glendon turns into a werewolf!
. . . Yeah, I know, it’s not a very good Switch. From this point on, Glendon basically loses control, which is really the opposite of what should happen in a strong Enneagram: the Four is when the hero is weak, the Five is when he’s strong, and the Switch is the obvious moment that changes his fortunes for the better.
In this case, the opposite is law: in the Four, Glendon was on top of things. He was at odds with his wife, but he had the whole “hairy death machine” thing totally under control.
The Five is basically when everything goes downhill: he transforms and murders two women (just barely avoiding killing Lisa) and his wife grows ever more distant from him, finally deciding to go take a drive with dear ol’ Paul and ignoring Glendon’s pleading to return home before nightfall.
In an attempt to avoid killing either Lisa or anyone else, Glendon goes to a friend’s house in the woods and locks himself in the dungeon-like basement. Unfortunately, Lisa and Paul are taking a stroll mere yards outside the establishment when Glendon transforms again and breaks through the iron bars holding him inside.
Were-Glendon attacks and nearly kills Lisa, but is stopped by dear ol’ Paul, who jacks Glendon in the back of the head, knocking him out.
Sometimes I think Glendon might be the least dignified werewolf I’ve ever seen.
Speaking of Yogami, here’s the reason he cannot be the Three: he’s nowhere to be seen at the Six! He shows up a little later, in the Eight, but until then the movie essentially forgets his existence.
Instead, I’m left with Paul, who pops up at the Three to come between Glendon and Lisa (by simply being good-looking and virile) and at the Six to come between Glendon and Lisa (by saving her from being eaten).
In short, the Three/Six dynamic is weak, which means that the ever crucial knee-joints of the story are weak, which means the movie falls over . . .
. . . and doesn’t put much effort into getting back up again. There is a vague Seven moment for this film, but Glendon has nothing to do with it: dear ol’ Paul recognizes the hellish monster in a business suit as Glendon and goes to Scotland Yard to rat him out.
The Yard has been investigating the various murders all throughout the film, but have always ignored any suggestion that werewolves are involved. In the Seven, they start listening, and send out search parties to capture Glendon.
The Eight is a bit better, though:
Lisa is recovering in her house when Glendon returns to his secret garden. To his great relief, he finds the fourth and final mariphasa flower has bloomed, but Yagomi uses it first, leaving Glendon to transform again.
This naturally doesn’t end well for Yagomi: a battle between one slightly overweight Swedish guy with an Asian surname and one middle-aged werewolf can only end one way!
. . . Actually, I guess it could end any number of ways, but in this particular case, Yagomi is killed.
Glendon sprints around the property, knocking out Paul and chasing Lisa, but before he can kill her is shot in the back by some guy from Scotland Yard.
The movie wraps up in record time after that. Glendon says goodbye to his wife and quickly dies, leaving Lisa free to marry dear ol’ Paul (as soon as he wakes up, that is).
And that’s it.
So, is it anti-Christian? Nah. Anti-climactic? Maybe. ‘Better than the Wolf Man? NO.
This one does have some heart, and its personal “rules of the magic” are very interesting, but the movie really doesn’t have a strong Enneagram. It has a weak Switch, a poor Seven, and makes the most damning of all Enneagram mistakes; a dull Three and Six.
If you want some thrilling ideas, check this out, but you’ll probably only be able to stand one viewing.