Britain-based Hammer Films built a sizable empire in the 1950’s by reinventing the classic Universal monsters. In 1961, they turned their attention to The Wolf Man and conjured up The Curse of the Werewolf, based loosely on Guy Endore’s The Werewolf of Paris. For me, this is pretty average Hammer fare — neither good nor bad, but if you love the studio’s output, even mediocre Hammer is good Hammer.
The main thing the film has going for it is Oliver Reed. Reed does a terrific job as Leon, our tragic, lunarly-challenged hero. The product of rape, his momma dead from birthing him, and with the beast rearing from within, Leon is a role ripe with remorse and Reed takes it home. Things come to a head when Leon takes a humble job working in a wine cellar and begins to fall in love with the vineyard owner’s daughter (Catherine Feller). Once the cat (or the wolf) is out of the bag, the usual hirsute shenanigans ensue.
The first half of the movie, which covers Leon’s back story and his life as a child, is much more interesting than the second half. My favorite scene is one where young Leon (played very well by Justin Walters) tells his father about a bad dream, recounting how he accidentally killed a small animal, tried to kiss it and make it better, and accidentally discovered how sweet its blood tasted. To hear a doe-eyed English kid tell such a sordid tale is pretty disconcerting.
Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit www.scottschirmer.com. Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)