The Wolf Man howls again

"Even a man who is pure at heart and says his prayers by night...
May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms, and the autum moon is bright."

File this one under: Bad Ideas.

Universal Pictures, the studio that launched the first great wave of movie monsters back in the early days of sound, is planning to remake one of their most famous titles: 1941's THE WOLF MAN.

Screenwriter Andew Kevin Walker (SEVEN, SLEEPY HOLLOW) is writing a new script based on the old film, and actor Benicio Del Toro is slated to take the title role.

This may sound like a gift from the gods to fans of classic horror films, but there are lots of reasons to wary.

First off, Universal has been trying to cash in on its old assets for awhile, but they haven't necessarily done such a great job. Just take a look at the monster mess known as VAN HELSING.

Second, despite its reputation, the original WOLF MAN is not a masterpiece. It's a classic, in the sense that it establishes all the elements of the mythology that have since become firmly established in the public consciousness, but as an actual film it's slow-paced and distinctly lacking in chills.

Third, according to a post at Dark Horizons, Walker's screenplay will retain the essential storyline from the original, which was about a man who returns to his family home in England after being away in America. In the original, this explained away Lon Chaney, Jr.'s obvious American accent, and the audience could just suspend disbelief and pretend that he was English. How this will work for Del Toro is anybody's guess -- he's a great actor, but I doubt anyone will buy him as the privileged son of a wealthy English family.

And last, word is that Walker will be updating the story to take advantage of current visual effects technology (i.e., computer-generated imagery). Considering the disastrous impact that CGI had on the last two high-profile werewolf bombs (AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS and CURSED), this is troubling news indeed.