Made for a paltry sum in 1957, this horror film grossed over 2 million dollars in a week. Its combination monster and teen angst struck a chord with audiences, especially the core teen-agers. Dozens of related films followed in the late 1950s. Michael Landon is handsome and brooding, in the James Dean mold [in fact he wears a stripe-lined dark baseball jacket almost as good as Dean's red one in "Rebel Without A Cause" (1955)], who seeks help for his violent tendencies. Yvonne Lime is lackluster as Landon's girlfriend, but Whit Bissell is compelling as a demented psychiatrist who transforms Landon into a part-time werewolf. Two set-pieces are masterfully constructed: in the first attack a teen boy is walking home through the woods, and suddenly hears footsteps behind him. Shot day-for-night, we hear no music, just see branches, brush and meadows, and hear crunching sounds. It's terrifying. The second sequence begins with Landon watching a girl practice on a parallel bar in a gym. The bell rings and he is transformed. This is our first look at the werewolf makeup and it's effective. But the girl is hanging and sees him upside down and so do we for a short while, set to a magnetic musical score, and it's thrilling. Later the monster hunt becomes a bit drawn-out, aided by a janitor from "the old country" who speaks of werewolf legends, a replacement for the gypsy woman from "The Wolf Man" (1941). This is undoubtedly Michael Landon's most famous and best screen performance, since he got lost to TV.
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