Updated: Apr 20, 2019
In "The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies" (Woodbury Press, 1984), Phil Hardy bestows great historical significance upon The Werewolf (1956), a seemingly insignificant movie. “…in the development of the Science Fiction and horror genres. It marks precisely the point at which horror, which had been a dormant genre in the early fifties, began to take over from Science Fiction.”
He continues, “This trend was confirmed within a year when, in the wake of the sale of the Universal Frankenstein films to American TV and the success of British Hammer’s romantic/gothic versions of Dracula (1957) and Frankenstein… producers started actively looking for horror rather than Science Fiction stories to film.”
If this is true, and I have no reason to doubt Mr. Hardy, it’s interesting that The Werewolf was initially released on the bottom half of a double bill with Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, sort of ushering out the old and ushering in the new. Indeed, a year later in 1957, two other werewolf films were released: Daughter of Dr. Jekyll and I Was a Teenage Werewolf.
The word “lycanthropy” is defined as a human being having the power of becoming a wolf, or of having the power of turning another human into a wolf. Some say lycanthropy stems from nothing but myth and superstition, yet the belief that a human can turn into a wolf has persisted since the dark ages to this very day. It is a universal belief. The ancient Romans and Greeks wrote of the phenomenon. There are tales of such happenings in Borneo, Turkey, South America… everywhere. The American Navajo Indians and other tribes tell stories about wolf men. The legends have persisted from the beginnings of man’s memory of time. Why? Why haven’t these tales died… the tales that say wolf men roam the earth…