Opening in a sleepy black and white town, some noirish backwater out of a Tom Waits song where the local pub’s jukebox plays selections from Brando’s The Wild One to an assortment of farmers, truckers, village drunks and sassy barflies, The Werewolf (1956) reinvents lycanthropy as a byproduct of atom-age experimentation. Presently offered by FEARnet in HD, it stars Steven Ritch as whiny, hapless Duncan Marsh (that’s right: Duncan Marsh) who’s taken in after a car accident by a pair of overzealous scientists determined to toughen-up the human race for post-holocaust survival by transforming them into wild beasts. Before you can say ‘Larry Talbot,’ he’s bounding in the woods ripping apart unsuspecting hayseeds, with sheriff Don (Creation of the Humanoids) Megowan, nurse Joyce (Terror from the Year 5000) Holden, and a frantic torch-wielding posse in pursuit. What separates the film from its cheesy b-formula is an uneasy but effective alliance of soapbox preaching with moody chiaroscuro, and sporadic fits of existential hogwash as characters dwell on their impotence against global annihilation and the threat of extinction hanging over the family unit. Heady stuff for director Fred F. Sears, better known for Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and best forgotten for The Giant Claw. Whew!