Friday, 5 May 2017

THE WEREWOLF











d. Fred F. Sears (1956)

Cheaply but carefully made, The Werewolf provides a surprisingly contemporary retelling of the hoary old lycanthropic legend, placing the action in Smalltown USA and making it a condition of mad modern science rather than arcane folklore.

The origins of the werewolf are somewhat odd, with responsibility falling to a couple of fascist scientists who plan to outlive the impending nuclear apocalypse by combining human genes with the survival traits of other successful species. When a timid salesman injured in a car crash falls unexpectedly into their clutches they ruthlessly inject him with a syringe full of lupine essence and sit back ready to note down the results.

Their victim escapes, of course, and trudges through the snow to the small ski resort town of Mountaincrest. Here, the poor, frightened fellow transforms into a ravenous, drooling wolf: a hairy, hungry killing machine. The townspeople, dressed almost exclusively in plaid, form a posse to track him down.

The werewolf spends most of his time running, but never really gets anywhere, not least because there’s nowhere to go. In his old life he was a nice man with a wife and a son but now he is a crazed killer, a beast who inadvertently seals his fate by ripping apart the scientists who made him like this in the first place. With literally no turning back, he ends up full of yokel bullets, a bloodied heap of hair. His dying act is to revert to his human form, a pitiful and questioning look upon his face. 

It’s rather a depressing spectacle, but then werewolf films never have happy endings, they just don’t work that way.

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