The Curse Of The Werewolf (1961)

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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. --IMDb
Review by Tristan
Added: July 18, 2007
One night in Spain, a poor beggar wanders into a quiet, empty town. After entering the local inn, he is told that everyone in the town has been ordered to rejoice, as the Marques Siniestro (Anthony Dawson) is holding a great feast in his castle, for this is his wedding day. Taking the advice of one of the townspeople, the beggar travels to the lord's castle, interrupting his dinner. After being offered food and wine, only after being humiliated and bought as a present to the Marquesa (Josephine Llewellyn), he is thrown into the dungeon, where he is soon forgotten.

Time passes, and the only people he sees are the jailer, and his mute daughter (Yvonne Romain), who has taken quite a liking to the beggar. Several more years go by, the jailer has passed away, as well as the Marquesa, leaving the Marques an ugly, cruel recluse. After trying to force himself on the now grown up mute woman, she bites him to get away, and is subsequently thrown in the dungeon with the beggar. The beggar rapes her, and when she awakes, she finds him dead. After she is let out of the cell, she is brought to the Marques room, where she kills him, and then escapes from the castle. She lives in the woods for many weeks until Don Alfredo Corledo (Clifford Evans) finds her, and brings her back to his home. His servant takes care of the woman, and informs Corledo that the woman is pregnant. She stays there several months, and Christmas rolls around, as it tends to, and the servant becomes scared. Where she was raised, it was believed that an unwanted child born on the day of the Lord was an insult to Heaven.

As fate would have it, the child is born on December 25th, and the woman dies during childbirth. Don Alfredo Corledo adopts the boy as his own, and with his servant, raises young Leon. After a hunting expedition, in which young Leon accidentally tastes the blood of a squirrel, the town starts to become unsettled, as goats are turning up dead. A local hunter shoots what he thinks is a wolf, but the blood trail only goes so far before it disappears. The next morning, Corledo tends to a wound Leon received during the night, to discover a bullet lodged in his leg. This tends to be the typical way of setting up a werewolf film, especially after Leon (Oliver Reed), has grown up, and moved from animals to people.

While it takes about an hour until you actually see the werewolf, the pay off is well worth it. As the transition between human to wolf is always the biggest moment in a werewolf film it must be believable for the movie to hold water. Well, considering this is 20 years after The Wolfman, and 20 years before The Howling, I'd say that they really did find a happy medium between the two. The makeup effects look terrific for the time, and blow anything that CGI can do away.

As there are only about 4 or 5 werewolf movies that were pulled off well, and my friend has just added one of these few to the site, I felt it only necessary to add one of my favourites. While it does lack in actual screen time for the werewolf, as the title indicates, the movie is more about the "curse of the werewolf" rather than the werewolf himself. As always, the music and locations are excellent, from the dungeon of the castle, to the town square, to the forests. And like every other Hammer film, the actors all do their part to make the best movie they can on a limited budget. I believe I even saw Desmond Llewelyn (Q of James Bond fame) in a brief cameo. I'd recognize that chin anywhere.

If you're a fan of werewolf films, Hammer horror, or just great 19th Century horror films, this is highly recommended by yours truly. Aside from the original Wolfman, and a few of the later classics, this stands out as one of the best werewolf movies I've ever seen. And had it not been for lacking in the werewolf department, this would have received a perfect from myself.

Tristan #1: Tristan - added 07/20/2007, 12:16 AM
I never understood that shot of him holding the girl in the orange dress for two reasons. The only person who wears such a dress is his mother, so that's not possible. Also, unless I missed something completely, he doesn't touch anyone aside from killing them. It shows up in the menu, and on a picture of the lobby card inside the box set.
Chad #2: Chad - added 07/20/2007, 12:43 AM
Lions Gate took a cue from that deceptive strategy.
Tristan #3: Tristan - added 07/20/2007, 12:45 AM
Chad #4: Chad - added 07/20/2007, 01:24 AM
Just about all of their DTV releases.
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