Scream of the Wolf
Several horrifying animal mauling haunt a small mountain town into thinking there is a werewolf in their midst.
Spoiler Level: Mild
A young man runs out of gas on a secluded road and is brutally attacked and mauled to death by some animal. When Sheriff Vernon Bell (Philip Carey) can’t identify what type of animal was to blame, he calls in adventure writer and former big game hunter, John Weatherby (Peter Graves) to help with the investigation. The prints appear to be that of a large wolf, but as they lead away they change from a four legged creature to a bipedal and then the tracks disappear completely. The animals’ scent also changes causing the dogs brought in to fail in tracking the creature. John asks his longtime associate and fellow hunter Byron Douglas (Clint Walker) to help, but Byron refuses. As more murders occur, Byron still refuses to help, citing that the killings have finally made the people of the town feel alive, maybe for the first time in their lives. John’s girlfriend, Sandy (Jo Ann Pflug), becomes one of the victims, but she survives, but did not see what had attacked her. She believes that all the clues point to a werewolf, and she believes that Byron is the monster. Although the Sheriff does not believe it is a werewolf, he too begins to suspect Byron. John, having known him the longest, is resistant to consider his old friend could do something so monstrous. Is Byron a shapeshifting murderer? Can John prove his innocence and stop whatever has murdered 4 people, and how many more townsfolk will perish? Watch and find out!
The performances are good for an ABC Movie of the Week, but nothing “Emmy” worthy. The murders are mainly committed using a first-person point of view, so you never see who or what is committing the crimes, which adds to the level of suspense, but also keeps production costs down. The setting of the small mountain town is appropriate and adds to the creepy atmosphere. The film has a good plot that hits on some interesting ethical themes, which is no wonder, having been written by the wonderful Richard Matheson, based on the story “The Hunter”. I wouldn’t say this is the best movie directed by Dan Curtis (Dark Shadows, The Night Stalker), but it does have some very “groovy” music by Bob Cobert who scores most of Curtis’ projects. The film moves at a good pace and has a reasonable rhythm, although possibly a bit slow for today’s audiences, with very little blood or gore shown on screen. This was the television of the 1970s, after all, where stuff like that wasn’t permitted.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It is a bit slow and some of the acting is a bit over the top or possibly too subdued, but it is a product of the era it was made in. Although the film doesn’t delve too deep to the themes it raises on the surface, the moral questions it offers is interesting to think about. What causes friendships to end? Does fear make us feel more alive? It even challenges the ethical aspects of hunting. It was a fun movie with some nice twists and turns.
This is a fun ABC Movie of the Week that doesn't follow the normal "Werewolf" path!
Movie of the Week: Scream of the Wolf
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Acting - 7/107/10
- Music - 8/108/10
- Production - 7/107/10
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