Thursday, November 20, 2008

Curse of the Werewolf(1961)d/Terence Fisher

I know,I know.Let's see YOU manage to juggle payin' dues,swilling booze,writing rad reviews,and still find time to schmooze with the local cooze!Thought so.What we have here is THE classic(and surprisingly also the ONLY)Hammer werewolf flick.Journeyman actor Oliver Reed terrified little blighters everywhere with Roy Ashton's unusual bang up lycanthropic makeup job in this film based on the novel "Werewolf of Paris" by Guy Endore,not to be mistaken for the atrocious skinheads-turned-werewolves-to-eat-unwanted-foreigners sequel to Landis' '81 classic.Fisher blends a bit of the old(Universal's "The Wolfman") with a bit of new(previously unseen grue) to create a likable film that stands up to repeated viewings.Definitely one of my top five werewolf pics of all time.
The dirty stumblebum acts the fool for the powdered bourgeoisse.
After a beggar shows up at the Marques' doorstep looking for food and shelter,only to be ridiculed by the upper crust as after-dinner entertainment then cast into the dungeon to be forgotten,the prisoner scores himself a piece of mute servant girl trim when she lets her pity foolishly drop her guard momentarily.Nine months later on Christmas(!) she dies giving birth to Leon,who is taken care of by Spanish do-gooder Don Alfredo(not to be confused with the scrumptious Italian pasta sauce).While taking the boy hunting,Leon's innocence gets the best of him,kissing a bloody bird brought down on the hunt,perhaps leading to his first transformation into a snarling half boy-half beast,but while on the prowl the boy gets winged by a rifle.Alfredo,seeing the boy's wounds,realizes he has been cursed by the full moon and takes the necessary precautionary measures to avoid him harming himself and/or others,locking him in a bar-laden bedroom on nights he is due to transform.
Do ya think it's alriiiight,to leave Leon(Oliver Reed) in the moonliiiight...
Leon spends the next ten years growing into a strapping young man,eventually gaining employment in a wine cellar,and falling in love with the owner's daughter,Cristina.A priest offers a temporary defense for his lunar attacks in that so long as he spends the full moon with his true love,he will not change into a werewolf.So far,so good.One night during the lunar cycle while his employer has his beautiful daughter under wraps,Leon goes aggro,transforms into the beast,killing several townspeople,tearing out throats and pouncing on anyone who gets close enough,before being trapped by an angry mob of torch-wielding citizens,and climbing a belltower for refuge.Frankenstein-ish,eh?His surrogate father squares off against him in the tower,finally putting an end to the terror with a well-placed silver bullet.He lives like a man,but dies like a dog,with tears in his eyes.Tragedy thy name is Leon!
Grrrrrrrr.That about sums this one up.
As I said earlier,one of my all-time fave ferocious furry feller flicks.Hammer certainly opted for style and substance here,as they often did in the early days of the studio's horror period,and the end result is a true fan-pleaser across the board.Reed does well as the tragic hero,avoids singing altogether,like he should have in Ken Russell's "Tommy"(1975),and sells the were-action with the best of 'em.His screen presence is sorely missed today.Anthony Dawson,who plays the snooty Marques went on to play a memorable assassin in Bond film,Dr No,and one of his uncredited servants,Desmond Llewellyn,went on to play Bond gadget man Q!Fancy that.This classic gets the top wopsploitation score of:
Oi!Leave out awl dat fecking noise down there,would you please?


Keith said...

I'm a huge fan of Oliver Reed. This is actually one of my favorite Hammer movies. It's a shame they didn't do more werewolf movies.

beedubelhue said...

Yeah I'm with you there.Hammer fumbled the wolfman ball somehow,though covering all the other main creatures pretty well.Reed was a class act,and this was his star turn IMHO.This one holds up to repeated viewings for all the right reasons.Thanks for reading,Keith!


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