Tuesday, August 24, 2010

'The Werewolf' is decent Halloween fare

The Werewolf (1956)
Starring: Don Megowan, Steven Ritch, Harry Lauter, Joyce Holden, Ken Christy, S. John Launer and George Lynn
Director: Fred F. Sears
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

A pair of amoral scientists (Launer and Lynn) subject an accident victim with amnesia (Ritch) to radiation that causes him to turn into a werewolf when he is frightened, angered or in pain. When their test subject escape from the lab, and starts menacing a small mountain town, they set out to kill him before the local sheriff (Megowan) catches him.

"The Werewolf" is a surprisingly effective low-budget horror film that brings the werewolf legend into the 1950s era where radiation was the answer to everything, good and bad. The pseudo-scientific explanation for the werewolf in this film is pretty much the same origin that Stan Lee's Incredible Hulk would have some ten years later, but it's used with greater effect here.

Although it has many monster movie standards--the rugged sheriff who saves the day, the evil scientists, the hapless unwilling monster that is doomed to be hunted to death despite himself--they are deployed with greater effect than one might expect from a film of this caliber. The complete amorality and naked evil of the two scientists in the film is of a nature that I don't think has been seen in a film since the mid-1940s, and the sympathetic nature of the monster/victim is more complete than any other werewolf film I think I've ever seen. There's even a (for this kind of movie) very unusual scene whee he gets to say his final goodbyes to his wife and son.

Whether you're looking for a funky monster movie to show at a Halloween party, or whether you're a fan of werewolf movies or the Science Gone Bad themed films of the 1950s, this will staged and well-acted little film will fit your needs.

"The Werewolf" is available on DVD as part of the "Icons of Horror: Sam Katzman", together with three equally offbeat low-budget sci-fi/horror-hybrids from the late 1950s. All of the movies included in the set make great Halloween viewing you can enjoy with the entire family.)

1 comment:

  1. Of course, SOMEONE can't tell the difference between August and September, so this post went up a month early. Oh well... the point still stands. This movie and the set in general is great for Halloween.


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