Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Cinema & TV: The Werewolf Cinematic Timeline, Part II: 1950-1969

Hello and welcome to the second part of the Werewolf Cinematic Timeline! 

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has visited my blog over the past three years. We have officially broken 140,000 pageviews (almost 141,000 now, actually)! It is quite a milestone, seeing as only recently have I returned to actively posting content, so I am very grateful to each and every one of you guys. You rock! :D

But let's get back to our timeline. Below you will find a list, along with some (mostly) colourful posters and short plot summaries, of werewolf movies and movies that feature werewolves in one way or another that came out between the 1950 and 1969. Compared to the earlier years, we can already notice a significant increase in the number of such productions. Because of the size of this post, I had to back down from my original plan of including movies from 1950 all the way to 1979 and instead stop ten years earlier. So off we go!


The Werewolf

In the remote Californian town of Mountaincrest, a beast is on the loose, killing people. The locals find footprints that suddenly turn into pawprints and decide that any further investigation should be left to the law enforcement. Meanwhile, the protagonist, Duncan Marsh, wakes up naked in a drainage opening, with no recollection of what happened or even what his name is. As it turns out, he is a victim of two mad scientists, who rescued him from a car accident and, taking advantage of his condition, injected him with irradiated wolf blood, which, as a result, turned him into a bloodthirsty werewolf.


El Castillo de los Monstruos 
(The Castle of the Monsters)

A Mexican horror comedy directed by Julian Soler. El Clavilazzo – a Mexican funnyman – falls in love with a seamstress by the name of Beatriz. When Beatriz is kidnapped by a mad scientist that has been producing monsters based on the classic Universal Studios monsters in his nearby castle, our protagonist has no choice but to rescue her. Along with friends, he finds his way into the castle and in one way or another does away with all the monsters, including a werewolf, a mummy, a vampire, a Frankenstein’s monster-wannabe, and a fish-man similar to the Creature from the Black Lagoon. He manages to save his beloved, while the mad scientist meets his end at the hands of his hunchback assistant after the latter turns on him.

I Was a Teenage Werewolf

Tony (Michael Landon) is a distressed teenager who basically has anger management issues. Every so often, he gets into fights with his colleagues, which causes him a lot of problems at school. After one such fight, Tony attracts the unwanted attention of the local police department. The officer in charge breaks up the fight and advises Tony that he seek help of a local psychologist. Said psychologist, Dr. Brandon, specialises in hypnotherapy. When Tony decides to visit him, Brandon agrees to treat him, but he has an agenda of his own. Wanting to advance his scientific career, Brandon injects Tony with a serum and convinces him that he’s a werewolf. As a result, Tony undergoes not only a mental, but also a physical change at certain times (e.g. he transforms at the sound of a ringing bell), which makes him start killing locals. Realising what he’s become, Tony seeks help to get out of this new predicament.


How to Make a Monster

Yet another cross-over featuring a wolf-man and Frankenstein’s monster, although a bit differently than before. Pete Dumond, our protagonist and chief villain, is a make-up artist that has worked on horror movies for the last twenty-five years of his life. When the studio he’s been working for is bought by a company that wants to make musicals and comedies instead of horror movies, Pete loses his job (and, arguably, his sanity). He vows to take vengeance on the new owners by using the monsters of his own creation as tools. To this end, he blackmails and hypnotises two actors so that they think they actually are the characters they’re playing (Teenage Werewolf and Teenage Frankenstein). In full werewolf and Frankenstein’s monster’s make-up, the two become Pete’s tools of destruction. No genuine werewolf here, it would seem, but I thought this movie was worth mentioning nevertheless.


La Casa del Terror
(House of Terror)

Another Mexican horror comedy. These seem to have been quite popular at the time, didn’t they? A night watchman at a wax museum of horrors is being experimented on by his boss, the Professor – while he sleeps on the job, the Professor takes some of his blood and uses it in his experiments that are meant to bring back the dead to life. To cover his misdeeds, the Professor covers all his failed experiments in wax and places them on display in the museum. When he hears about a mummified body discovered in an Egyptian sarcophagus, he decides to steal it with the help of his two henchmen. Back at his lab, by utilising lightning in the traditional Frankenstein manner, he finally succeeds in bringing the corpse back to life. However, when the full moon rises in the sky, the reanimated dead man transforms into a werewolf, escapes the laboratory and goes on a rampage through the city.


The Curse of the Werewolf

Based on the novel The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore. Set in 18th century Spain, the movie starts with a beggar becoming imprisoned by a cruel marques for uttering inappropriate remarks at his wedding. The beggar spends the next fifteen years in prison, tended to only by the jailer and his beautiful daughter. In time, the marques sets his sights on the jailer’s daughter, but when she rejects him, he has her thrown into the same cell as the beggar. The beggar, who’s lost his sanity due to years of imprisonment, rapes her, which results in her becoming pregnant. Given the opportunity, the girl escapes, kills the marques and hides in the forest. There, she is found by a man and his housekeeper who nurse her back to health, but she dies eventually anyway after giving birth to a son on Christmas Day (a bad omen that in some folklore meant the child will become a werewolf). Indeed, thirteen years later, the boy undergoes a transformation and starts killing people, the only thing that can supposedly prevent this change being the presence of the girl he’s fallen in love with. Unable to marry her and imprisoned on suspicion of murder, the boy changes into a werewolf and goes on a killing spree until he is killed by a silver bullet shot by his step-father.

Frankenstein, el Vampiro y Cia 
(Frankenstein, the Vampire, and Company)

A Mexican remake of Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein from 1948 (discussed in Part I of our Timeline). The plot is practically identical to the original Universal Studios production, so there is not much for me to say here.


(Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory)

An Italian take on the subject of werewolves. A creature resembling a wolf-man starts killing young women at a school for girls. The newly-hired science teacher becomes the prime suspect of being a werewolf.


Face of the Screaming Werewolf

Dr. Cowan Redding is a psychologist specialising in hypnotic regression. During one such session, he discovers that one of his patients is a reincarnation of an Aztec woman. Thanks to what he can uncover from her memories, the doctor is able to lead a team of archaeologists into a hidden chamber of the Great Pyramid of Yucatan. Instead of expected Aztec treasure, inside they find two mummified bodies, one of which (somehow) appears to still be alive. Once the two bodies are transported back to the city, however, Dr. Redding is killed by a rival scientist who steals one of the recovered mummies. He manages to resurrect it, only to find out that it’s a werewolf. The creature breaks free from the lab, while at the same time the other mummy (the live one) escapes from where it was being held. The two mummies face off against each other in the streets of the city. What is worth noting is that the werewolf mummy was played by Lon Chaney, Jr. (through the use of footage from 1960’s La Casa del Terror), this being his last film role as a werewolf.


La Loba 
(The She-Wolf / Los Horrores del Bosque Negro)

A beautiful young Mexican woman from a rich family suffers from a curse that makes her transform into a wolf every night. She starts seeing a doctor, hoping that he can help her lift the curse. When it turns out that he is also a werewolf like her, the two fall in love with each other and from now on murder people by night together. Their killing spree eventually comes to an end when become the prey of a hunting dog trained specifically to kill werewolves.

Dr Terror's House of Horrors

Starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, this film tells the story of five men who board a train carriage from London to Bradley. They are joined by a sixth man, a mysterious Dr. Schreck (whose name in German translates to ‘terror’, hence the first part of the movie’s title) who offers to tell his companions their fortunes using his deck of Tarot cards, which he calls the ‘House of Horrors’. Each time he draws a card, he tells one of the five men a story about the fate that lies ahead of them. One of those is a story about a werewolf that one of the travellers will come across in the future.

Orgy of the Dead

An erotic horror directed by Ed Wood on the basis of his own novel. A young couple is looking for a cemetery at night, hoping that the setting will bring inspiration to one of them who is a horror screenwriter. They have a car accident, but nevertheless eventually manage to find the cemetery, where they witness a scene that can be best described as danse macabre – the so-called Emperor, a powerful demon (perhaps Death itself?), summons the souls of the damned to dance for him. Among his lackeys are a werewolf and a mummy, who discover and capture the couple. The demons argue about what they should do with them and in the end the couple is saved by the first rays of sunlight of the dawning day. Subsequently, they wake up at the scene of their car accident, which suggests that everything that happened was just a dream.


Mad Monster Party

Staring Boris Karloff, famous for his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in 1931’s Frankenstein,  as Baron Boris von Frankenstein (we see what you did there, movie), this production is a stop motion animated comedy featuring numerous classic Universal Studios monsters and more. Karloff’s character orders his assistant, Francesca, to send out invitations to all known monsters for a party he will be hosting on his Isle of Evil. Once they’ve all arrived, Baron Boris announces his plans to retire as the head of the ‘Worldwide Organization of Monsters’ and names his nephew, Felix, as his successor, much to Francesca’s dismay. He also reveals that he’s developed a secret formula for total destruction. The monsters decide to get rid of Boris’s successor and steal the formula for themselves, but are prevented from doing so by the arrival of one monster that’s not been invited - a King-Kong-like giant gorilla. While the gorilla wreaks havoc on the island, Felix and Francesca escape by boat, while the Baron, furious with the monsters for wanting to kill his nephew and steal the formula, drops the vial with the destructive compound and annihilates the island along with himself and all the monsters on it.

Dr Terror's Gallery of Horrors
(Return From the Past)

Just like Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors from 1962, this low-budget movie is an anthology film, meaning that instead of having one plot-line, it tells several shorter stories in succession. Due to the uncanny similarity of its title to the 1962 production, it has been released under many different names over the years. John Carradine plays the Narrator who tells five horror stories, each with a humorous twist ending. The last one, ‘Count Alucard’, is a variation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and possesses a twist ending in which it turns out that Jonathan Harker is a werewolf.


La Marca del Hombre Lobo 
(Mark of the Wolfman / Frankenstein's Bloody Terror)

Thanks to his role as Count Waldemar Daninsky – a werewolf – in this movie and its many sequels over the next thirty-odd years, Paul Naschy gained fame in the film industry as Spain’s Lon Chaney, Jr. The movie opens up with a drunken Gypsy couple who decide to spend the night at the abandoned Wolfstein castle. While there, they discover the tomb of its owner, Imre Wolfstein. When they remove the silver cross that was buried with him, the man – who turns out to be a werewolf – rises from the dead, kills the couple, and proceeds to go on a rampage through the nearby village. Blaming ordinary wolves for the attack, the villagers organise a hunting party to track down the animals. During the hunt, one of the members of the party, Count Waldemar Daninsky, is attacked by the werewolf Imre and becomes afflicted with werewolfism. Once he transforms, he starts killing people. Realising this, he seeks help from a pair of doctors, who eventually turn out to be vampires. Instead of helping Daninsky, the two nosferatu resurrect Imre Wolfstein and pit the two werewolves against each other. Daninsky manages to defeat Wolfstein, kills the vampires, but in the end is shot dead by a woman who loves him.

Las Noches del Hombre Lobo 
(Nights of the Werewolf / Nights of the Wolfman)

(poster unavailable)

Widely regarded as the second film starring Paul Naschy as the famous Count Waldemar Daninsky, it is a cinematic mystery of its own. The reason for this is that it is uncertain whether or not the script for this movie was at all filmed, since it was never theatrically released nor was it ever released on video. The only person who maintained that it was actually filmed was Paul Naschy himself. It is possible that he made the movie up to boost his popularity. The little that we know of the supposed plot is that Count Daninsky was supposed to become a guinea pig for a mad scientist who learns how to manipulate him using sound waves and uses him to achieve his personal goals (namely, revenge, as usual). Some people suggest that, owing to the great similarity of the storylines, this film somehow became the later Fury of the Wolf Man, but it is all just speculation. Adding to the confusion, another film of Naschy’s, El Retorno del Hombre Lobo, was released on DVD under the title Night of the Werewolf, but of course the two have nothing to do with each other whatsoever.


Blood of Dracula's Castle

A photographer inherits an old castle from his late uncle. However, it turns out that the castle has been rented for over half a century by an old couple who look surprisingly young for their age – Count Townsend and his wife. It is then revealed that Count Townsend is, in fact, Count Dracula and that he and his wife use the castle as their hideout, to which they lure young girls who they then drain of blood for sustenance. In time, they are joined by their old acquaintance, Johnny, who has broken out of prison. The thing about Johnny, though, is that during the full moon, he goes berserk and turns into a werewolf-like monster. When the photographer and his fiancée visit the castle, the vampires and their lackeys devise a plan to do away with them in order to keep both the castle and their secret to themselves.

* * *

And that's another seventeen movies listed! I have to say, it took me longer than expected to finish this part, as I've been a little busy in real life. Still, please stay tuned for Part III, which will present movies from 1970 to 1989 (at least, like always, that is the plan). And there is quite a lot of them during that period, so it might take me a while to compile all the descriptions ;) I might actually cut the list for the next part to just ten years, because otherwise the post will most likely stretch all the way down to the South Pole. As a comparison, the above included 17 movies. The number of productions that were made between 1970 and 1980 alone equals 29 (give or take). Between 1980 and 1990, we are looking at around 38 productions, so the post would have to contain 58 entries. Yeah, now that I've given it some thought and did some simple math, I think making Part III include movies between 1970 and 1980 the better option.

Anyway, the next time I post something it will probably be full moon, so it will be time for this month's Werewolf Movie Review. As promised, this time we take a look at the remake of The Wolf Man from 1941, which was featured as last month's review. That said, I will see you again soon!

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