It is remarkable that Earl Owensby has made as many b- grade low budget action films as he has. More amazing is the fact that this likable but paunchy and balding 30-something-ish producer stars in many of them. It is even more remarkable that this extremely hairy man has taken his shirt off in at least two of them. Having said this – the only thing right about Wolfman is the casting. Earl Owensby has remarkable amounts of body hair. The actors in this film really look their parts, even if only a couple of them actually bother to play their parts. Ed Grady looks like a Satan worshiping minister, Sid Rancer looks like a doctor, and Earl really looks like a wolfman, even without the carpet of monochrome brown hair applied to his face and hands during most of the action sequences.
Though Owensby has occasional flashes of acting in this film, the only person who manages to consistently carry her role is Kristina Reynolds. Unfortunately two Owensby films were enough for her, and she appears to have left the career after “Living Legend: The King of Rock and Roll” (also produced and starring Owensby). Amazingly, one of the absolute worst performances in the film was achieved by Ed Grady – the reverend – in his first role. Grady has gone on to make several very good appearances in better films such as The Notebook.
If you’ve read one of my b-movie reviews before, you know that I reserve single star ratings for big budget Hollywood atrocities and give out 2s and 3s for very bad b movies which are ultimately harmless and sometimes quite funny. The only thing truly painful about Wolfman is the soundtrack, but since the only thing you will lose by muting this film is the dialog, you do have an option.
Wolfman gets a 3 because it does have a couple of things going for it. This film was Worth Keeter’s first directoral and writing effort. The plot, set in the late 19th century (despite a couple of anachronisms like Earl telling Kristina “I’ll call ya.” after he breaks a date with her), and the sets and costuming are cheap, but not too badly done. The storyline is original, if not particularly engaging (how many wolfman films qualify as “engaging” anyway? – I can only think of two).
Earl plays a young man whose father- apparently a werewolf – has died. He returns to his estranged home town, somewhere in the southern US, and finds that he has inherited a sizable estate. He also finds that he has inherited a family curse, but this fact, which is central to the entire plot, is not clearly exposed until surprisingly late in the film. And finally, he rekindles an old passion for Kristina Reynolds’ character, a lovely, mature and intelligent divorced shop-keeper. Then, of course, things start to go horribly wrong.
To his credit, Keeter paced this film such that the actual wolfman plot does not really become the main focus until after the characters are developed (though poorly because of the lack of acting talent). Unfortunately, by the time the wolfman aspect of the film really becomes the main theme, I had already fallen asleep four times (the fifth nod-off occurred during the chase scene at the end). Note that I am an insomniac, and I sleep about 4.5 hours on any given night.
Keeter has, not surprisingly, developed a career in bad to average action films, and has recently started making good cartoons and video games. He is one of the few people whose career survived an Earl Owensby film, however.
Far from the worst film ever made, but really only recommended for b- horror movie fans.