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Curse of the Werewolf

Clifford Evans , Oliver Reed , Terence Fisher    VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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After Hammer Studios rewrote the histories of Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Mummy it was only natural to take on the howling hirsute one. Discarding the cursed gypsies, blooming wolfsbane, and chanted legends that swirl through Universal's The Wolf Man, director Terence Fisher and screenwriter John Elder (a pseudonym for producer Anthony Hinds) returned to Guy Endore's novel The Werewolf of Paris for inspiration. Switching locations to 18th-century Spain (to make use of standing sets from a canceled production about the Spanish Inquisition), this is a story of sex, sadism, and decadence, a curse produced from human evil. Young orphan Leon, the progeny of a mad, animalistic prisoner and a ravaged young peasant, is plagued with nightmares while village sheep are slaughtered, but it isn't until he grows into the stocky young Oliver Reed that his curse takes its terrifying toll. Reed cuts an intense figure as the brooding, serious young man and makes a marvelous werewolf, moving with a boxer's grace under feral makeup that looks as much ape as canine. Curse of the Werewolf has all the cleavage and blood you'd expect from a Hammer film, but it's Fisher's eerie touches that make the film so gripping: a dog's howl anticipates the crying of the newborn Leon, holy water ripples as if coming to a boil before his christening, and the wild-eyed, fanged boy struggles against the bars in his room consumed in a canine bloodlust. --Sean Axmaker

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Variation on a theme by Universal. Nov. 15 2002
Hammer only made one foray into the murky world of werewolf-mania, but they hit one over the fence with this entry. Young Leon Corledo (Oliver Reed) changes into a gray-pelted werewolf when evil is exalted and the full moon shines bright. Terence Fisher provides his sure-fire talent as director. Although influenced by the classic Universal product, this wolf man stands on his own. Odd elements to a familiar story line appear in the beast's origin. The script is based on "The Werewolf of Paris," an obscure novel by Guy Endore. The setting is 18th century Spain. Take note, the full werewolf makeup only appears at the climax of the film. The monster is the unseen terror for much of the movie. Suspense builds slowly. Unlike Dracula's unholy delight in his blood lust, Leon suffers the torments of the damned. The curse of the beast. The full moon draws him, but pure love and careful nurturing keep him human. Cristina (Catherine Feller) is his love interest. When they confine Leon in jail, Cristina can't minister to him. All hell breaks loose as the werewolf explodes out of jail and tears off over the rooftops. This beast must be part monkey, the way he jumps from ledge to roof and back again. He climbs the church tower, and meets his fate as the bells toll loudly. This is one of the great moments in Hammer folklore. The usual Hammer traits of lush color photography and rich period detail are evident. A true delight for collectors classic horror flicks. ;-)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wild Man Plays Wolf Man March 5 2002
The late Oliver Reed was something of a hellraiser, and had a predilection for three "B's": Booze, Babes, and Brawls. Mr. Reed appeared on talk shows drunk, fell down a hill playing bagpipes in a drunken stupor during the filming of "Burnt Offerings", took a chainsaw and cut his house in half when his soon-to-be divorced first wife wanted "half the house", slugged reporters, and married a sixteen year old girl when he was in his mid 40s. Ollie was a born wild man, so he was a natural for the lead in the Hammer horror classic, "Curse of the Werewolf", early in his career. "Curse", made in 1961, was Reed's second or third film, and is Hammer's only werewolf film. Having scrapped plans for a film about the Spanish Inquisition, the ever-thrifty Hammer studio wasn't about to let their newly constructed Spanish sets go to waste. Changing the locale of Guy Endore's "Werewolf of Paris" to sunny Spain, they came up with a winner. Sensitive Leon Carrido, played by Mr. Reed, is the orphaned offspring of a crazed, animal-like beggar and a mute (and buxom-this is a Hammer film, remember!) servant girl. He has also inherited the curse of lycanthropy, and has shown disturbing signs of it in childhood, killing goats and his pet kitten in his nocturnal prowlings. When he reaches young manhood, he leaves his adoptive father and sets out to make his way in the world. But his affliction (abetted, no doubt, by his healthy male hormones) resurfaces, with alarming and tragic results. The love of a good girl (the boss' daughter) almost saves Leon from his fate, but "almost" doesn't count. What impressed me about this film (and still does) was how sad it was, and how fragile life is. There are so many innocent, tragic characters in the film. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars A "blessing" for horror film fans... June 28 2001
CURSE of the WEREWOLF completes Hammer's "unholy trinity" of Universal horror classic remakes. HORROR of DRACULA and THE CURSE of FRANKENSTEIN have long been recognized for their excellence as preeminent monster-mash thrillers. Director Terence Fisher has truly outdone himself with a movie that well matches the Lon Chaney/Larry Talbot masterpiece. The recently-late Oliver Reed is excellent in his younger-than-yesterday role as LEON; the young, "pure of heart" man cursed to become wolf when the bane blooms in glare of the full moonlight. Hammer atmospherics and setting are characteristically predominant and superbly utilized. The story is predictable only in its "classic silver bullet conclusion". Otherwise, Fisher controls the great pacing with suspense and emphasis on character rather than the gore and often grotesque displays of violence that often typifies your basic "werewolf adventures" (THE HOWLING series; AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON; PARIS; ROME etc.). CURSE is a class act all the way. 007 fans can catch a glimpse of "Q" (Desmond Llewelyn)serving as "servant" to Anthony Dawson (Professor Dent of DR. NO) essaying the role of the nefarious Marques Siniestro. Though not as well known as the Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee outings, THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF is a great piece of monster-movie entertainment and a "blessing" from Hammer to fans of the genre...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Oliver Reed in the best werewolf makeup ever May 11 2001
By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
It is rather ironic that "The Curse of the Werewolf" features not only one of the best werewolf makeup jobs in cinema history by Roy Ashton but the best actor ever to play a werewolf in the young Oliver Reed (even if the competition is basically Lon Chaney, Jr. and Michael J. Fox). The film is loosely adapted from Guy Endore's novel "The Werewolf of Paris" with the action moved to Spain because the studio had constructed Spanish-style sets for another movie. Reed plays Leon, born on Christmas day (as the result of the brutal rape of his mother in a sequence that was filmed but not included because of censorship) and at his christening there is a lightening storm and the baptismal water boils. Leon might be a sensitive young lad, but he is obviously cursed and eventually something is in the hills killing goat kids and kittens. When his adoptive father Don Alfredo Carido (Clifford Evans) learns the truth, he promises to show the boy enough love to let Leon's human soul win out over the animal soul within him. There are no further incidents as Leon grows up and falls in love with Christina (Catherine Feller). Unfortunately, while she loves him she is betrothed to some rich jerk. When Leon drowns his sorrows at a local brothel, the wolf returns as one of the ladies tries to comfort him. When the police arrest him for the three murders, the wolf returns one last time and is chased around the rooftops until the final fatal confrontation with Don Alfredo in the bell tower.
Given how fantastic the makeup job is on Leon as a werewolf, it is a shame that we do not really get to see it until the final chase sequence. For the actual murders all we get our shots of hairy hands, shadows on the wall, and a lot of growling.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Amateurish
They were making sophisticated, quality films by 1961. This isn't one of them.
Published on Nov. 2 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars YET ANOTHER MONSTER CHARACTER STUDY
Hammer Film Co. has style. Before the creators show you the monster, they show you the story behind the monster. This is solid film-making in the tradition of Jacques Tourneur. Read more
Published on Jan. 29 2001 by "flamingtelepath"
5.0 out of 5 stars Oliver Reed is Superb!!
I remember seeing this film when first released in America, in a double-bill with Brides of Dracula (another great film!). Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2000 by Thomas Kelly Perkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Hammer's best and only Werewolf Flick Kicks!
Maybe it was a good thing that our old friends in the U.K. just did one werewolf picture. Remember the second Mummy picture Hammer did? Read more
Published on June 27 2000 by brent been
5.0 out of 5 stars "THE" Werewolf film
This 1960 effort by famed Hammer Productions of London, England is one of their finest efforts, and the greatest werewolf film ever made. Read more
Published on March 26 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars DONT READ REVIEWS BELOW 4, THIS IS THE BEST WEREWOLF FILM!
Wow, Terrance Fisher you've done it again! This movie is great and the performance from Oliver Reed may have been his best. Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2000 by Albert Franco
5.0 out of 5 stars Something to "sink your teeth into"
This film has to be one of the best films I've ever seen! The beginning is somewhat slow and boring. Read more
Published on Dec 30 1999 by Anthony
2.0 out of 5 stars Curse of the Werewolf has all the trappings, but falls shor
This film starts out strong, but ultimately falls short. The introductory legend serves it's purpose in setting up the story, but the film seems to falter afterwards. Read more
Published on Nov. 20 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent acting and story, but production values suffer.
Just watched it, and for horror affectiandoes, it's certainly worth seeing for the remarkable film debut of Oliver Reed in a passionate, touching performance. Read more
Published on Oct. 16 1999 by Bret W.
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