Researching the background on this film introduced me to the term "Poverty Row", which was used in Hollywood from around the 30s to the 50s to describe studios who made low budget 'quickie' movies. "The Mad Monster" came from a poverty row studio notorious for making bad B-movies and exploitations flicks, PRC ('Producers Releasing Corporation', or as the critics called it 'Pretty Rotten Crap'). Mostly they made westerns and melodramas, taking a week or less to shoot each one, and sometimes horror movies like this one. It was directed by Sam Newfield, who ran the studio with his brother and directed a great number of its movies. Sometimes he did this under different names so as to hide the fact that they couldn't afford or didn't want more directors.
A scientist demonstrates to his colleagues the results of his animal/human blood transfusions, by transforming an ordinary man into a wolf man. They all think he's crazy, of course. And he thinks they are blind fools, of course. Guess which of them are proven right. Glenn Strange appears as the previously mentioned witless 'ordinary' man, gaining some experience here for his future roles in the Universal sequels as Frankenstein's monster. It isn't long before he gets to run riot as the wolf man, terrorizing the townsfolk and being generally ravenous. It's all good fun.
"The Mad Monster" was one of four werewolf movies in this database that were given the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" treatment (the others being "I Was A Teenage Werewolf", "Samson vs the Vampire Women" and "Werewolf"), and its easy to see why. This is classic B-movie; rushed, low-budget, poorly written and simply laughable. It's obvious that this movie was churned out in order to cash in on the commercial success of "The Wolf Man" the year before, though it's surprising it didn't at least have the word "wolf" in the title. "The Wolf Monster", maybe? But that makes this the fourth earliest werewolf movie currently available as far as I know. It actually borrows as much from the earlier two more obscure films, "Wolf Blood" and "Werewolf of London", as it does from "The Wolf Man". Inparticular the idea of being infected as a werewolf through a blood transfusion with a wolf, which was also the plot of "Wolf Blood" ... this actually got the movie banned in the UK, and when it was eventually released it contained a disclaimer along the lines of, "Yeah. Animal blood transfusions wouldn't cause werewolfism." Cos, y'know, that's clearly how dumb people were back then.
Yes, this is a very badly-made movie. Yes, it is quite dull. But it's also an important part of werewolf movie history. Arguably, it is the earliest obtainable werewolf B-movie, and that alone makes it worth obtaining, at least for fans of the genre.
The film starts right away with a transformation sequence. A mad scientist demonstrating a wolf-to-man blood transfusion, which results in a transformation that is achieved, as you'd expect, with dissolves (see top photo). The same goes for the transformations back to human form. The scientist's plan is to create an army of wolf man, but his scientific colleagues ain't too happy about that. To teach them a lesson, he sets his newly-created wolf man out to terrorize.
There are many shots of him wandering around in a misty forest (see bottom photo), clearly drawing upon "The Wolf Man" very heavily. Except that Glenn Strange just kind of walks casually through the forest, unlike Lon Chaney Jr who actually tried to appear wolf-like and creepy. There's not a lot of real werewolf folklore on show here, since its all strictly 'mad scientist' territory; the werewolf is entirely a creation of science. It does employ the idea of the silver bullet, though.