Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

Director: Terence Fisher

Starring: Oliver Reed

More info: IMDb


Plot: In Spain, Leon is born on Christmas day to a mute servant girl who was raped by a beggar. His mother dies giving birth and he is looked after by Don Alfredo. As a child Leon becomes a werewolf after having been taken hunting. As a young man, he works in a wine cellar and falls in love with the owner's daughter Cristina. One full moon, he again turns into a werewolf and terrifies the town.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

#13 on Hammer Horror (1957-1976)

#1 of 31 Days of Horror 2010.

I created this blog three years ago this week in an attempt to keep a detailed record of every movie I watch from October 1, 2007 forward. To kick it off I set out to do something I had always wanted to do - watch 31 horror movies in the 31 days of October. I succeeded. In the subsequent two years I failed as life got in the way. This year it's a return to the challenge and I plan to surpass the 31 film goal. This is the first of many horror flicks to follow this month. In these past three years I've watched more than 700 films, nearly 600 have been posted in this blog (I hope to be caught up with the rest by the end of this year).

I really dig this flick but it feels severely disjointed. The first third leads up to the birth of Leon, future werewolf. It took thirty minutes to tell us that he is the spawn from his mute mother being raped by a beggar. She kills him after he rapes her and then she dies 9 months later while giving birth. Tragic, right? So how does this explain Leon being born a werewolf? Someone please help me on this one.

Leon as a child is adorable and his scene where he tells his father how he came to like the sweet taste of blood is one of the best child acting scenes I've ever come across. It's too bad this was his only film credit.

I dug the locale being Spain although it really makes no difference to me where it is even though it originated in Paris and the prior movies took place in England. It's the time that matters to me. Reed is quite good as the tragic Leon. The makeup effects were fine for the time.

Now we're 48 minutes in (a little over half way) before Leon is an adult and leaves home. His parents and the local priest know he's a werewolf but they're the only ones. Not even Leon knows the whole story. We're told that his only salvation is to be killed by a silver bullet or the love of a woman. What? Really? OK, so is this a phisiological problem he's having or a mental one? How can the love of a woman cure him? Is it something like his heart would be tamed and at peace knowing that she loves him? I'm confused. How exactly does that work?


It's surprising that with all of these issues that's it's still a very well-paced and enjoyable film...despite not seeing the actual creature until the final reel. It's a flawed but admirable effort on Hammer's behalf and I do find it curious that they never made another werewolf picture. It would have been really interesting to see where they would have taken it.

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