“I’m all by myself in your silver light…”
All righty then all you slappy dinguses! The second werewolf flick for the 2007 (post) Halloween review jamboree is from the 1950s! Oh yeah! You know what that means! Everybody: “Radiation can do anything!”
Clover Productions, Columbia Pictures Corp., 79 minutes, NR
actors: Steven Ritch, Don Megowan, Harry Lauter, Joyce Holden, George Lynn, S. John Launer
writers: Robert E. Kent, James B. Gordon
director: Fred F. Sears
producer: Sam Katzman
Taxonomy:Sci-Fi; werewolf flick; superstitious trappers
Plot:An amnesiac stumbles into Mountain Crest, California. The Hook: He won’t like what he soon remembers.
The flick opens at night in the little town of Mountain Crest, California. We see a guy in a suit drag himself down the street and go into ‘Chad’s Place’, the local watering hole. Seems the good folk of Mountain Crest like their liquor! They suck it down like it was the answer to their prayers. When asked why he is in town the stranger looks confused and says, “I guess I’m just passing through.” He then leaves. Another patron of Chad’s, a big dude named Joe, tries to mug the new guy – oh hell, his name is Duncan Marsh (of the Clan Marsh!). We don’t know that yet but I don’t want to keep having to write “the stranger.” Anyway, Joe tries to rob Duncan (Ritch) and soon has way more than he can handle! An old lady sees what happens (we only see feet – what is it with werewolf flicks and feet?) and screams. A very hairy Duncan runs away and soon has to protect himself from an armed Deputy. The Sheriff (Megowan) is called in and all concerned think the large animal tracks indicate that Joe, was attacked by a crazed beast. Based on the fact that Deputy Clovey (Lauter) told him that whatever attacked him walked on two legs, the Sheriff thinks a human is responsible for Joe’s death.
Sheriff Hains takes Clovey to Doc Gilchrist’s place to get patched up. Here we meet Amy Standish (Holden) Doc’s nurse and Sheriff Hains squeeze. The doc thinks Hains is crazy talking about a man being the cause of Clovey’s wounds. Amy brings up the psychotic condition of lycanthropy. Hmmm…
The next morning we see that Duncan has slept in a culvert. I should mention that it is winter and Duncan is barefoot. He says, “I know I was dreaming!” when he sees that his footprints change into those of a large wolf. He then goes and finds his shoes and socks, which had been neatly placed near a fallen tree. What the hell!? Are these movies trying to convince us that werewolves would actually stop mid-transformation to remove their footwear? Also all of Duncan’s clothes are in good order – even his tie! Oh I can hear my Dad now, “You young people today are such slobs! Why in my day, even the werewolves were snappy dressers!”
Soon Duncan shows up at Doc’s place. He tells Doc and Amy that he can’t remember who – or what – he is and he does not know why he is in Mountain Crest. He says he has vague memories of a car crash and two doctors… but it is all foggy. He says he thinks he killed a man last night. Amy and Doc show him sympathy and Duncan seems to trust them, but then they blow it when they try to sedate him. He cries, “Those other doctors did something to me!” and runs away. Amy promptly calls the Sheriff.
Next we meet a couple of scientists. We know they are scientists because they have a lab full of animals and wear lab-coats and dark goggles. These two sweet fellers are Dr. Morgan Chambers (Lynn) and Dr. Emory Forrest (Launer). They are conducting experiments exposing animals to – wait for it! – atomic radiation! Ya knew we would get there sooner or later didn’t ya? Yes, these guys are “those other doctors.” Emory tells Morgan of the story of a death in Mountain Crest and we are then treated to Morgan explaining their research – as if Emory had no idea! It seems they believe, that is Morgan believes, Emory seems like a bit of a doofus, that fallout from H-bomb testing will mutate everyone on Earth into stupid vicious beasts. So, they are trying to develop a way to immunize themselves against this eventuality. Yep! Radiation immunization! God I love 50s sci-fi flicks! They also learn that Duncan is missing when his wife shows up and asks them if they could know where he might have gone. Fearful that Duncan could get them in trouble – nonconsensual radiation therapy and all – they zip off to Mountain Crest to pop a cap in his ass. Though they do not use those words.
Well the race to find Duncan is on! Sheriff Hains enlists Doc, Amy, Mrs. Marsh and Duncan’s little boy to help him bring Duncan in. They know he is hurt – leg got caught in a trap; wonder where they got that idea? Hmmm… – and use a bullhorn to get him to give himself up. That night Morgan nad Emory break into the town jail, drug the deputy and prepare to kill Duncan. Surprise! Duncan has changed in his sleep! Morgan and Emory get chewed up. Dang! Now we will never get that radiation vaccine! Stupid werewolves don’t understand the benefits of modern medical science!
Sheriff Hains gathers a large posse and goes out hunting for Duncan. No that Duncan has killed two more people the Sheriff does not intend to show any mercy. At one point during the chase, the Sheriff orders the men to throw torches toward Duncan so they can get a good shot. Hey yeah! Several flaming chunks ‘o wood won’t cause any harm in the California woodlands! Holy crap! Well this leads to the climactic scene where Duncan is trapped on a bridge and the posse gun him down. “Now he can go home.” says Sheriff Hains. The End.
Babeage: None. Joyce Holden is an okay actress, but not a babe. the actress who plays Duncan’s wife looks like, well, a 50s housewife.
Sleazeploitation: Like I noted above, the folks in Mountain Crest love their booze and there is a blond barfly, but nothing really happens that could be classified as sleaze.
Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes:Duncan in his ‘werewolf’ form. Mogan & Emory.
Violence: Uh … well … nope. Kind of odd for a werewolf flick.
Gore & FX: The transformation is done with fades just like in The Wolfman (1941). Not too bad really. I guess the setting could be an ‘effect’; the flick was shot in and around Big Bear Lake, California. Unfortunately black and white does not do the scenery justice.
Doc: “Man what you’re trying to say is just a lot of poppycock! Storybook stuff! The kind of things kids get nightmares about!” No doubt about it – Doc Gilchrist is Dana Scully’s father!
Sheriff Hains: “Doctors try to save people. The law doesn’t always have a choice.”
Dr. Morgan Chambers: “They’ll make the hydrogen bomb more powerful, then more powerful again! Enough to change every person on the face of the earth into a crawling inhuman thing from fallout radiation!” And that was just his testimony before Congress about stem-cell research!
Dr. Morgan Chambers: “The perfect science, Emory. The science that ends all science.” Uh … What!?
Dr. Emory Forrest: “You’re not going to kill him!? [Duncan]” Dr. Morgan Chambers: “You think he still wants to live after what he has become? It will be an act of charity!” I think you mean an act of mercy, doc. Or were you planning on putting his kid through college?
Here are a couple of exchanges that show just what softies Sheriff Hains and Deputy Clovey are: Amy, “What a horrible horrible thing to happen to a human being!” Hains, “Yeah.” Hains, “How do you explain a thing like this to a wife and kid?” Cloves, “Maybe you don’t try.” Stop it you two before I tear up!
Moral: Never wear your good shoes in the snow.
The Werewolf is actually a fairly good little flick. Only one problem – it’s not about a werewolf! Sure Duncan looks like a werewolf when he changes, but none of the werewolf folklore comes along for the ride. Full moon? Don’t matter. Sunlight? Don’t matter. Infects those he injures? Nope. Silver needed to kill him? Lead bullets do just fine. A shame really because the flick nails the tragic element rather well. We really feel sorry for Duncan and his family. If this flick were made in the 80s the culprit would be exotic drugs. The 90s – genetic engineering. But this was the 50s and it had to be radiation. I guess they wanted to add a well known monster into the mix. Ah well, still a tight little cheapo b-movie. Nothing wrong with that!
50s Sci-Fi Checklist:
radiation can do anything!
big ass cars – Mountain Crest has 22 police cars!?
tons of booze and cigs
tones of the hep-cat era
big ass jukebox
atomic not nuclear
real men still wore hats
One to Ponder: Were the clothes really werewolf proof in the 40s and 50s?
Well, that’s two post Halloween werewolf flicks for 2007. Catch ya next time – and remember: comments, questions, suggestions and contributions welcome.