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HAMMER'S VICTORIAN HORROR 'THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF'

Oliver Reed in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF Year: 1961 Rating: ****

A man gets bitten by a wolf and slowly turns into one… Which probably sounds extremely familiar but the British-run Hammer Films will have nothing to do with anything that simple, basic or cliche…

The setup, before we even meet Oliver Reed’s Leon, is eerie and creative, introducing the story set during the colorfully antique 1800’s where a beggar's thrown out of a tavern, and then ventures naively into the last place he’s wanted: a lush castle where an aged King has married his beautiful young bride (a nefarious, later grotesque Anthony Dawson to insanely gorgeous blonde Josephine Llewellyn)…

Josephine Llewellyn and Anthony Dawson in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF

This prolonged introduction doesn’t seem like one at all: The sympathetic beggar’s backstory plays out like a story in itself with a beginning, middle and end, making the blunt, heartless turnout that much creepier...

After being locked in the dungeon with a life sentence, through the safety of steel bars he’s fed by a young mute servant girl (Loraine Carvana) who's around ten years old...  

Yvonne Romain and Anthony Dawson in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF

When of-age, becoming a gorgeous Yvonne Romain, after resisting the now decrepit king’s advances, she’s thrown into the same dungeon where the beggar – the same bearded “creature” she had visited and fed since a very young age – rapes her...

She escapes to a small town, is taken in by a friendly couple, and dies after an abnormally wrenching childbirth, and soon enough the adopted parents realizes the child isn't completely human. One of the best scenes involves the local priest explaining the werewolf curse in its very origins.

Oliver Reed in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF

When off-screen sheep start vanishing within the outlying fields, we’ve now legitimately entered a werewolf flick with a neat dash of suspenseful mystery therein, catching sporadic glimpses of the kid in fang-form till he grows into Oliver Reed, who, despite being a great actor, hams it up quite a bit… which isn’t entirely his fault...

By the time the primary story begins, forty-five minutes into the bizarre costume melodrama, there’s a lot to be made up for – and Reed’s romantically intense Leon is the perfect culprit for the inevitable grizzly wolfdom.  

Oliver Reed in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF

The most effective scenes happen in town when Leon turns furry with fury on a prostitute, and then his jovial workmate played by scene-stealing Martin Matthews...

The direction by Hammer stock Terrence Fisher keeps the violence minimal, leaving the viewer’s imagination to do the dirty work, although there are jarring jolts of violence, implied or otherwise, adding to the Gothic peril.

Oliver Reed in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF

Much too late at the very end (after a romance with  Catherine Feller, who is replaced by Romain in the ads, which makes no sense since she's Reed's mother who dies minutes after he's born), Reed’s Leon transforms in front of the entire town... including his silver-bullet wielding adopted father (Clifford Evans, actually the main character)...

So ReedWolf romps around the lush promenade like a frantic actor in a stage play, or a demonic monkey broken loose of the organ grinder's leash, adding to the strange combination of pathos and terror that makes Hammer stand alone in the monster genre.

Oliver Reed in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Josephine Llewellyn and Anthony Dawson in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Desmond Llewelyn in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Josephine Llewellyn and Anthony Dawson in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Josephine Llewellyn and Anthony Dawson in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Josephine Llewellyn and Anthony Dawson in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Yvonne Romain as the Servant Girl in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Yvonne Romain as the Servant Girl in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Yvonne Romain as the Servant Girl in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Clifford Evans and John Gabriel in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Oliver Reed in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF with Martin Matthews
Josephine Llewellyn in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Josephine Llewellyn and Anthony Dawson in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Josephine Llewellyn and Anthony Dawson in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Oliver Reed in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF with Martin Matthews
Anthony Dawson as the creepy Marquis in CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Josephine Llewellyn and Anthony Dawson in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Loraine Carvana in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Yvonne Romain in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Yvonne Romain kills evil Marques Anthony Dawson in The Curse of the Werewolf
Oliver Reed in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Oliver Reed in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Josephine Llewellyn and Anthony Dawson in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Josephine Llewellyn and Anthony Dawson in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Loraine Carvana in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Loraine Carvana in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Yvonne Romain in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Yvonne Romain in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Anthony Dawson in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Oliver Reed in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF with Martin Matthews
Oliver Reed in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF with Martin Matthews
Oliver Reed in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Oliver Reed in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Joy Webster in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF with Martin Matthews
John Gabriel and Clifford Evans in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Catherine Feller in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Catherine Feller in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF with Oliver Reed
Oliver Reed in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Yvonne Romain kills evil Marques Anthony Dawson in The Curse of the Werewolf
Yvonne Romain kills evil Marques Anthony Dawson in The Curse of the Werewolf
Richard Wordsworth and Francis De Wolff in CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Warren Mitchell and Hira Talfrey in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Justin Walters (young Oliver Reed) in CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Oliver Reed in CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
Hammer regular Michael Ripper in CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF

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