20 October 2014

The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
90 min.
Directed by Terence Fisher.
With Clifford Evans, Oliver Reed, Yvonne Romain, Catherine Feller, Anthony Dawson, Josephine Llewellyn, Richard Wordsworth, Hira Talfrey, Justin Walters.
Reed's first starring vehicle was this Terence Fisher-helmed horror masterpiece from Hammer Films.

Imprisoned for years by a cruel Spanish marquis, an illiterate peasant slowly becomes an animalistic savage. One day, the crazed brute rapes a mute servant girl who becomes pregnant with child.

She delivers the baby - on Christmas Day, (a bad omen) - but she promptly dies and leaves her infant boy in the custody of a pair of gentle, loving locals.

They christen him Leon and care for him as he grows from adolescence to adulthood. Now a young man, poor Leon (Reed) soon realizes he bears more than just the mark of a tainted family background...he also carries the demonic curse of lycanthropy.

Based on the 1933 novel The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore (rather than Universal's 1941 Larry Talbot story), this elegant horror is beautifully shot, superbly acted and gathers a tremendous head of steam in the last half hour. Reed is memorably cast as Leon, a role he injects with pathos, sympathy and terror.

Every bit as good as the earlier Hammer classics, 1957's Curse of Frankenstein and 1958's Horror of Dracula.

Also known simply as The Wolfman, this is a must see.

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