by Roy William Neill
1943, 74 min, 35mm, b&w
With Lon Chaney Jr., Ilona Massey, Patric Knowles, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, and Maria Ouspenskaya.
“Even more than FLAMING CREATURES, [NORMAL LOVE] drew upon the ‘secret-flix’ of Smith’s boyhood – specifically those Universal wartime horror-movies whose stars (Bela Lugosi and Gale Sondergaard) he particularly admired and whose characters he would re-imagine in drag and color. Anticipating NORMAL LOVE by conjoining two well-developed horror mythos, FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN is a movie as blatantly atmospheric as it is boldly irrational. The action, David J. Skal observes, unfolds ‘in a monster-haunted Germanic never-never land called Visaria, which a resurrected Lawrence Talbot and his wizened gypsy sidekick are somehow able to reach from Wales in a horse-drawn wagon.’ (As Smith would note: ‘Corniness is the other side of marvelousness.’) The credits that emerge from smoking test tubes, the opening mausoleum robbery, the orgiastic Festival of the New Wine, and the figure of the Wolf Man are images that would find their place in the Smith oeuvre. […] The sequence wherein the Monster carries the comatose Baroness only to be attacked himself by the Wolf Man is recapitulated after a fashion at the climax of the Cake Scene in NORMAL LOVE.” –J. Hoberman, JACK SMITH AND HIS SECRET FLIX