Revisiting the Classics: 1956’s THE WEREWOLF
This one came to us courtesy of producer Sam Katzman, the same guy who gave us the wonderful wonderful gift that is THE GIANT CLAW, one of the hokiest giant monster movies ever made, due to its monster. (Honestly, if you aren’t familiar, just google it for an image.) Directed by Fred Sears, from a script by Robert E. Kent, THE WEREWOLF sports a premise every bit as ridiculous as THE MAD MONSTER–equally ridiculous because it is essentially the same plot: a man can be turned into a werewolf by receiving injections of a serum taken from wolves. (Incidentally, THE MAD MONSTER came out first.) THE WEREWOLF was released to theaters as part of a double bill with Ray Harryhausen’s EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS.
The werewolf in THE WEREWOLF looks a lot better than the gorilla-like beast from THE MAD MONSTER, and the movie ends up being a far superior film. It is lifted above standard 50s B-movie fare by spiffy cinematography and location filming, and by an extremely strong performance by leading man Steven Ritch. More than any werewolf film I can think of, Ritch’s lycanthrope is depicted as a victim. Even with the few people the werewolf kills, it does so in self-defense! And the local sheriff and villagers are all, predictably, of the mindset of “We have to kill it!” even after they learn that Ritch has been the unwilling subject of experimentation by two mad scientists, who do at least get their just desserts at the hands, er, paws of the beast they created. Check this one out, peeps. It’s better than you’d expect.