Thursday, September 1, 2022

Werewolf Month Quick Picks and Pans


Moon of the Wolf Poster

Moon of the Wolf (1972) At times, this made-for-TV movie from director Daniel Petrie (based on a novel by Les Whitten) feels a bit like an extended Night Stalker episode. Set in rural Louisiana, the focus is on story, not effects. It starts as a murder mystery, which gradually shifts to horror. When a woman’s body is found savagely mauled, Sheriff Whitaker (David Janssen) attempts to narrow down the list of suspects, including the victim’s brother. While the locals blame wild dogs, the real culprit is something much more terrifying – a loup-garou (basically a Cajun version of a werewolf). Petrie wisely holds back from revealing the creature for most of the film (the makeup by Thomas and William Tuttle resembles a restrained version of Lon Chaney Jr.’s Wolf Man). It’s worth a look for the supporting cast alone (including Bradford Dillman, Barbara Rush, and Royal Dano). 

Rating: ***½. Available on DVD


The Werewolf Poster

The Werewolf (1956) An amnesiac (Steven Ritch) wanders into a small California mountain town. Mayhem ensues shortly afterwards, when his appearance coincides with several grisly (offscreen) murders. It takes the film nearly a half-hour to introduce the two scientists responsible for turning the man into a werewolf, under the auspices of improving society. It’s all appropriately moody and atmospheric, but falls short as a horror film. As much as I enjoyed the genre elements, this little slice of werewolf-noir probably would have been better off focusing on the psychological ramifications of a man on the run from himself. 

Rating: ***. Available on DVD


I Was a Teenage Werewolf

I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) Michael Landon (channeling James Dean from Rebel Without a Cause) stars as Tony Rivers, a teen with a terminal beef against authority figures and rules. After one too many run-ins with the law, he’s placed under the care of an unscrupulous psychiatrist (Whit Bissell), who makes him his unwitting pawn (What informed consent?). Using hypnotherapy, the psychiatrist hopes to re-start the human race, by regressing his test subject a million years or so. With shaky science like that, what could possibly go wrong? Plenty, we soon discover, when Tony becomes a bloodthirsty, rampaging werewolf. It might be worth a look, for the goofy premise alone. Surprisingly, you can’t find this on DVD or streaming with the regular services, but you can probably catch it on YouTube (for now). 

Rating: **½. Available on: YouTube


Dr. Jekyll vs the Werewolf Poster

Dr. Jekyll vs. the Werewolf (1972) Paul Naschy returns as cursed Polish nobleman Waldemar Daninsky, who’s doomed to turn into a werewolf when the moon is full. Hoping to find a possible cure for his affliction, he travels to London, where he meets the grandson of Dr. Jekyll. The good doctor’s latest experiment (based on his grandfather’s work) involves a serum that turns Daninsky into Mr. Hyde (not a great tradeoff). Where or how he suddenly sports a Victorian-era cape in swinging ‘70s England is never explained. Unless you’re equating the title with the doctor’s struggle to find a cure for Daninsky’s lycanthropy, it’s a bit of a letdown – don’t expect any knock-down, drag-out, slugging action between the two. For Naschy enthusiasts only. 

Rating: **½. Available on DVD and Tubi

She-Wolf of London Poster

She-Wolf of London (1946) Hmm… Talk about bait and switch! Not really a sequel to 1935’s Werewolf of London, this tepid thriller is a little too classy for its own good. Most of the attacks are offscreen, and the “werewolf” is just a shrouded figure. June Lockhart plays Phyllis Allenby, a young woman harboring a family curse. She becomes the primary suspect in a series of vicious murders, but has no recollection of committing them. Despite the title, don’t go in expecting to see werewolves. It’s a serviceable murder mystery, but as a horror film it falls woefully short. Lumping it together with the other Universal Wolf Man movies is nothing more than wishful thinking.   

Rating: **½. Available on Blu-ray and DVD


Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man Poster

Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943) The Universal house of horror was showing cracks in the foundation by the time this sort-of sequel to The Wolf Man was released. Lon Chaney Jr. returns as the eternally tortured Lawrence Talbot (it turns out he was only mostly dead), searching for an end to his misery. Bela Lugosi plays Frankenstein’s monster – an odd casting choice, considering Lugosi’s reservations about playing the creature in the first place. Seeing Lugosi (barely recognizable behind the makeup) shamble around like a drunken zombie and grunting seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Chaney does his best as Talbot, but there’s nothing new about the character. There’s an unnecessary musical sequence, presumably to pad out the film’s running time, and the final showdown is perfunctory at best. It’s nice seeing Maria Ouspenskaya reprising her role as Maleva from The Wolf Man, but her character isn’t given much to do except to be treated like a pariah by the ignorant local villagers. Watch House of Dracula or House of Frankenstein instead. 

Rating: **½. Available on Blu-ray and DVD


Silver Bullet Poster

Silver Bullet (1985) The eponymous “Silver Bullet” refers to the main character Marty’s (Corey Haim) souped-up wheelchair (Is that thing even street legal?) and, of course, the traditional means of dispatching a werewolf. Based on Stephen King’s novella Cycle of the Werewolf, and adapted by King* himself, it’s surprising that most of the roles are so two-dimensional, but a couple of performances manage to shine through. Gary Busey plays Marty’s irresponsible uncle (Hmm… Does life imitate art, or vice versa?), and Everett McGill is excellent as the creepy Reverend Lowe. Unfortunately, the movie suffers from an inconsistent tone, bland leads, and substandard makeup effects.   

* Fun Fact: Don Coscarelli was originally slated to direct the film, but constant disagreements with producer Dino De Laurentiis led to his dismissal from the project. The producer, however, did take Coscarelli’s suggestion to have King write the screenplay (from True Indie, by Don Coscarelli).

Rating: **½. Available on Blu-ray and DVD

The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! Poster

The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! (1972) Another micro-budget wonder from writer/director/producer Andy Milligan features lots of talky scenes with expository dialogue, delivered with an odd cadence (In other words, it’s unmistakably a Milligan film). A Victorian-era family of British werewolves are thrown into upheaval when the youngest daughter marries an outsider (thinking their offspring might break the family curse). The old house that serves as the primary setting lends some veracity to the production, but any suspension of disbelief is nullified by the lead actress’ blue eyeshadow, and a scene where two characters walk by a modern soda advertisement. In the end, the best thing about it is the eyebrow-raising title. The rest? Well… Did I mention it’s a Milligan film? Watch at your own peril. 

 Rating: **. Available on DVD (Out of print) and Tubi



Werewolf Woman Poster

Werewolf Woman (1976) In this sleazy Italian horror/thriller from writer/director Rino Di Silvestro, Annik Borel plays Daniela, a woman unable to form relationships with men. She channels the past life of her lookalike ancestor, who was burnt at the stake. She soon follows in her predecessor’s footsteps, luring and killing men by tearing at their throats. The misogynistic story attempts to link Daniela’s past sexual trauma with her psychosis, making no attempt to portray the character in a sympathetic light. Instead, the camera lingers on her body as a sex object, while she’s regarded as a savage animal that deserves to be destroyed. Do yourself a favor and skip this genuinely unpleasant experience. 

Rating: *½. Available on Blu-ray, DVD and Tubi



  1. You have convinced me to check out these and saw Silver Bullet recently.. Gary Busey is one of a kind and definitely falls into the Bill Night Uncle type here...

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Gill! Moon of the Wolf was definitely a find. I think you'd like it.

  2. Great reviews, barry!
    I have surprisingly seen Moon of the Wolf and enjoyed it, especially for the cast!

    I am shocked that I was a teenage werewolf is not available on DVD or blu-ray! Seriously, how has that not happened?

    Oh, and I am not the least bit surprised over your review of Andy Milligan's the rats are coming! The werewolves are here! One day I will have to do a review because it is a complicated film for me, a lot like most of Andy's films.

    1. Thanks so much, John! I'm glad you enjoyed Moon of the Wolf as well. It really stood out, this month. As far as I Was a Teenage Werewolf goes, I'm equally baffled why it's not available on home video. Perhaps it's stuck in Copyright Limbo?

      I would love to read your take on the The Rats are Coming! Milligan can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes, but I keep going back to his movies, like a moth drawn to flame.

  3. A very good, eclectic mix to close out Werewolf Month! I love how the supernatural monsters of the '40s became misbegotten products of mad science in the Atom-age '50s, and despite its flaws, The Werewolf is one of my favorites (that one pairs nicely with John Beal's The Vampire from '57). I was a little surprised to see Moon of the Wolf leading the pack with 3 1/2 stars, but then I haven't seen it in years. Fortunately, it's readily available for streaming. I was also a little surprised at the middling review of Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, but then, complete agreement is so boring! Being one of my childhood favorites, I've always excused its deficiencies, but for me it redeems itself with one of the better openings in the whole '40s Universal cycle, and the historical interest of Lugosi finally portraying the monster. And I smile every time at that musical sequence! :)

  4. LOL! Complete agreement is, indeed, boring! If we all liked exactly the same things, what a dull world this would be. ;) With that said, I agree with you about The Werewolf. It surprised me with its moody, noir-ish charms. And Moon of the Wolf was a big discovery for me. Fun stuff! Thanks for stopping by, Brian!