Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Werewolf (1956)

The Werewolf (1956) by #FredFSears
w/#DonMegowan #JoyceHolden

When a stranger with amnesia appears, a small town Sheriff comes to believe he is dealing with a werewolf.

“Scientists turn men into beasts!”
“It happens before your horrified eyes!”

“The horror of all mankind terrifies the screen!”

#Horror #SciFi

The Werewolf (1956) is a historically significant horror film because it is the first to feature a werewolf that is non-supernatural. The beast in this movie is pure science fiction, having been created by a couple of doctors conducting experiments.

What is it about the doctors in old B-movies? They’re always looking for that medical breakthrough that’s going to INSERT CRAZY IDEA HERE. In this case, they inject the survivor of a car accident with “irradiated wolf serum” in an effort to…

I’m not really sure if I understood what they were hoping to do. But I don’t think it was cure the patient. Hmmm… Wikipedia tells me:

“The doctors believe that once perfected, the serum will allow “a select minority of people” — chosen by them — to survive the imminent nuclear holocaust. Lycanthropy is an unfortunate side effect.”

I see.

So they were trying to help the guy survive a nuclear holocaust, and figured that turning him into a werewolf was an acceptable trade off. Seems a bit like overkill, when he probably only needed to take a couple of aspirin and call them in the morning.

So the poor guy wanders into a small town, not remembering who he is or how he got there. When someone tries to rob him in a dark alley, something happens. We don’t see it, but it seems like a wild beast tears his attacker to shreds (offscreen). As more of this kind of thing starts to happen, the local Sheriff starts to suspect (much to his own disbelief) that he might be dealing with a werewolf.

The Werewolf (1956) is definitely the kind of monster movie that makes you feel sorry for the monster. He was just a normal guy who got into a car accident. He has a wife and child, and hopes and dreams. He wasn’t trying to do anything wrong. He didn’t decide to experiment on himself, as is sometimes the case. He didn’t consent to being a guinea pig in this bizarre research project. It just happened to him.

As a result, you care about the character and how things turn out for him.

The Werewolf is similar in tone to The Vampire (1957), which I wrote about a while ago. Oddly enough, The Vampire felt more like a werewolf movie than a vampire movie. But both films are above average entries in the 1950s B-movie/monster movie genre.

The Werewolf (1956) was produced by Sam Katzman, who also did Creature with the Atom Brain (1955), The Giant Claw (1957) and Zombies of Mora Tau (1957) – al of which I have written about these past few months. 

The Werewolf (1956) is exactly the kind of #NotQuiteClassicCinema that I used to love watching late at night when I was young. I’m pretty sure I never saw it back then, but I look forward to seeing it again on some future #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.