THE WEREWOLF (1956) Reviews and overview

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‘The horror of all mankind terrifies the screen!’
The Werewolf is a 1956 American science-fiction horror feature film produced by Sam Katzman and directed and narrated by Fred F. Sears (Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, The Giant Claw) from a screenplay written by Robert E. Kent (Diary of a Madman, Twice-Told Tales).

The film’s soundtrack score was composed by noted composer Mischa Bakaleinikoff.

Like the following year’s The Vampire, this film offers a science fiction view of a traditionally supernatural creature although the films were produced by different companies.

Duncan Marsh (Steven Ritch), a mild-mannered man, finds himself lost in a remote village called Mountain Crest. His mind is clouded, but he learns later that Emory Forrest (S. John Launer) and Morgan Chambers (George Lynn), two scientists, injected him with a special serum containing irradiated wolf’s blood when he was suffering from amnesia after being in a car accident. The wolf’s blood, for unknown reasons, changed the previously gentlemanly Duncan into a vicious werewolf…


‘ … at several points as I watched The Werewolf, I was struck by the extent to which the slightly later I Was a Teenage Werewolf seems to have borrowed from it, and I was impressed throughout with the filmmakers’ willingness to disregard the usual werewolf-movie plot conventions.’ 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting


‘Campy at times, the originality of the production is commendable while the lead (his first movie) is successful at imbuing the wolf man with a certain degree of pathos. The scene where he runs frantically through the snow country barefooted shows Rich to have been a real trooper. This lycanthrope is truly a walking essay in tragedy.’ Cool Ass Cinema


“Director Sears wisely opts for location shooting over soundstages for his exteriors, which lends a great deal of verisimilitude; and cinematographer Edward Linden (who photographed King Kong and Son of Kong, as well as countless westerns) makes the most of the mountain scenery at hand. He makes the midcentury town look quite beautiful.” The Horror Incorporated Project

“The werewolf makeup by Clay Campbell (The Return of the Vampire, 1944) is effective, with fangs and nice drool effects, but the transformation sequences are rushed and the dissolves do not properly overlay (the de-transformation looks better). Still, this is one of the better-looking werewolves in film history.” Monster-Minions


” …it’s the man in the street who has become the wolf man here, an ordinary Joe who fell into the wrong hands and comes to an undignified end. It’s this sense of injustice, of nobody who really matters in authority caring, that offers up this movie’s captivation; it’s no classic, but its anxiety is deeply felt.” The Spinning Image

“Newcomer Ritch does a good job of conveying Duncan’s inner turmoil, while the shortcomings of the low budget are well hidden by director Fred Sears and producer Sam Katzman. Duncan’s transformation scenes are energetically executed, and the final scene packs a poignant punch.” The Terror Trap




Cast and characters:
Don Megowan … Sheriff Jack Haines
Joyce Holden … Amy Standish
Eleanore Tanin … Mrs Helen Marsh
Kim Charney … Chris Marsh
Harry Lauter … Deputy Ben Clovey
Larry J. Blake … Hank Durgis
Ken Christy … Dr Jonas Gilcrist
James Gavin … Mack Fanning
S. John Launer … Dr Emery Forrest
George Lynn … Dr Morgan Chambers (as George M. Lynn)
George Cisar … Hoxie
Steven Ritch … The Werewolf

Filming locations:
Big Bear Lake, Big Bear Valley, San Bernardino National Forest, California

Technical details:
1 hour 19 minutes
Black and white
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
Audio: Mono (Westrex Recording System)


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