Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Short Attention Span Review: Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

Short Attention Span Review: Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

As one who considers himself a big fan of both the Hammer catalog and the incomparable Oliver Reed, I waited entirely too long to watch Curse of the Werewolf.  I found this to be a fantastic picture, and I am here to heartily recommend it to my fellow fright fans.  The typical Hammer staples are on full display, to include wonderful sets, a rich color palette, a brisk pace, and sound performances captured by visionary technicians.  It also benefits greatly from the studio's ability to explore familiar haunts with creativity as well as craftsmanship, making old things seem new again.  This lycanthropy yarn, for instance, actually fashions an intriguing origin for the titular curse, and this exploration of the onset of such an abomination occupies the first third of the picture.  Long before a man turns into a beast at the behest of the moon, Curse of the Werewolf has cast a mysterious spell ripe with sinister flourishes and a wealth of drama.  The movie is halfway to the finish line before Reed takes center stage, and he rewards the filmmaker's efforts to set the table in such splendid detail with his trademark power and charisma.  While it is an invigorating departure from typical films in this vein, it does adhere to the classic formula wherein the poor soul who prowls the night under the influence of an unholy pact is both a monster and a victim.  If I were to complain about anything, I would note that the ending is rather abrupt, particular given all the attention devoted to building such a strong foundation.  The climax is gripping, to be sure, but it doesn't carry nearly as much weight as the first act.  Still, the picture is quite entertaining, standing as another high quality Hammer production brought to fruition by director Terence Fisher, who helmed so many of the beloved studio's most cherished motion pictures.  One can only wonder why the studio didn't sequelize this venture as they did so many of their properties.

Final Grade: B+

Oliver Reed offers up a robust performance in this unique take on familiar folklore, taking celebrated mythology in a fresh direction.  

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