Jump to content

Why Universal's First Werewolf Movie Is Probably Lost Forever

Recommended Posts

The Werewolf is cited as the first werewolf movie ever made; the 1913 film, from Universal studios, is probably lost forever. While this lost footage means that the werewolf sub-genre of horror movies had to take a different route, it's interesting to consider it as a new source for how these movie could have evolved. Here's what happened to the first werewolf movie, and why it'll likely never re-emerge.

Universal’s The Wolf Man (1941) with Lon Chaney Jr. is often viewed as the studio's first and primary piece of werewolf cinema. The Wolf Man appropriately got things rolling on the werewolf sub-genre of horror, but Universal actually had another werewolf movie that predates The Wolf Man by nearly three decades, and has since become unavailable. While The Wolf Man was not the second werewolf movie ever made, it was Universal's second attempt at bringing the werewolf to the big screen, and preceded by other films in the '20s and '30s.

The Werewolf is a 1913 film by Henry MacRae that tells the story of a Navajo witch who bestows her daughter with the power to transform into a wolf to help protect their land from colonialism. The werewolf daughter, Watuma, lives for hundreds of years to enact her revenge. It’s a story that actually sounds similar to Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning. The Werewolf might sound like it has a lengthy, complicated narrative, but it's allegedly only 18 minutes long. Unfortunately, it can’t be watched because all copies of the film have been destroyed on the premises of Universal Studios — here's what happened.


It’s devastating when media gets lost forever; this is a more common occurrence with film from earlier generations that aren’t backed up on a gigantic server. Universal Studios has historically been prone to a number of fires of various degrees of severity, usually with electrical issues being cited the problem. Several fires struck Universal Studios in the 1920s; it's been reported that one in 1924 destroyed the copies of The Werewolf. Universal Studios also destroyed the majority of the negatives for their silent films in 1948, so any remaining copies of the picture would have been taken out then. This means that The Werewolf is truly lost; The Wolf Man was able to replace it as the formative werewolf movie for both Universal Studios and pop culture history.

It's fair to say that Universal's The Wolf Man happened much later than Universal Studios’ other experiments with Dracula or Frankenstein's Monster, but there were still other films from the 1920s like Le Loup Garou and Wolf Blood: A Tale of the Forest that cover comparable material. The time it takes for Universal to turn out a proper werewolf movie likely has more to do with how the degree of make-up and prosthetics for a transformation is more intense with a werewolf than any other classic monster. The common themes between The Werewolf and The Wolf Man are present, but it's significant to point out that The Werewolf features two female werewolves and makes lycanthropy an extension of witchcraft.

If these ideas had persevered, then it's very possible that the werewolf movies that came out of Universal could have been very different. It's unfortunate that The Werewolf has become a lost piece of media, but the short story upon which it's based, The Werewolves, is still available for adaptation.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Similar Topics

    • Best Black & White Movie?

      Best Black & White Movie?

      in Polls Chit-Chat

    • Required Introduction Post - Probably boring, just skip it.

      A. Tell us something about yourself? : I'm a mid aged man, father and engaged. I work as a sys admin   B. How did you find InviteHawk? : I was looking for an invite on a torrent tracker   C. What Torrent Sites are you looking for? (Mention none if just browsing) : xthor.tk since ethor.net is dead   D. Do you use the same username or email on InviteHawk as well as on trackers? (If yes, change it from your profile or contact a staff member) : oh, well since I have no

      in Newbie Introductions

    • Vikings: Why [SPOILER] Changed His Name & Converted To Christianity

      Vikings season 6 brings the History Channel series to end, wrapping up a story that has spanned decades. Though it may seem to come out of left field, Hvitserk converting to Christianity and changing his name to Athelstan is a fitting conclusion not only for Hvitserk's arc, but also for Ragnar Lothbrok's. Ragnar was the main protagonist of Vikings until his death midway through season 4, at which point the focus shifted to his five sons: Bjorn Ironside, Ubbe, Hvitserk, Sigurd Snake-in-the-E

      in Movies & TV Shows

    • Star Trek: Why Voyager's Captain Janeway Had So Many Hairstyles

      On Star Trek: Voyager Captain Janeway had an impressive array of hairstyles during the course of the show, something actress Kate Mulgrew has attributed to the producers' anxieties about her character being Star Trek's first female captain. Star Trek: Voyager, which premiered in 1995 and ran for seven seasons, broke several barriers for the franchise in terms of representation. The cast was one of the most diverse of any Star Trek series to date, featuring many people of color and female main ch

      in Movies & TV Shows

    • Horror Movie page

      I did a quick search  for just a horror movie topic but could not find itt. I was looking for a movie to watch tonight  I just  watched the Host on Shudder , 6/10 for me  great concept in found footage some great deaths and a nice quick and fast pace movie which as a loose but pumchy plot points and it follows pretty well,  Great time to put it out now 😉😉 🙂  Host (2020) - IMDb  what sgould I watch next  

      in Movies & TV Shows

  • Who Viewed the Topic

    1 member has viewed this topic:
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.