Archive for the curse of the werewolf

Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1961

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2012 by goregirl

IMDB listed 149 titles for 1961; 48 of those were full length feature films. I do not include shorts, documentaries, made for TV movies or TV series on these lists. Like 1960 there were several television shows and their individual episodes listed that included Twilight Zone, Thriller, Way Out, and Great Ghost Tales. I seen just 26 of the 48 films from this year. Not only did I see fewer films from 1961 than any other year of the decade, but it has decidedly been my least favourite year. Only one film received a coveted perfect 5/5 rating. One film received a 4.5/5, four films received a 4/5 and the rest of the top ten are films I rated 3.5/5! I really had to reach to come up with a top ten. Granted a 3.5/5 (7/10) isn’t a bad rating. I certainly liked a film I rated 3.5/5 and would recommend it, but it also means I found it to be flawed. There were four other films that received consideration for 1961; Gorgo, What a Carve Up!, Santo Vs. The Infernal Men and Ghost of Oiwa.



Directed By: Alfred Vohrer

I mentioned the Krimi film movement in my review for Circus of Fear. Although Circus of Fear hails from the UK I mentioned Krimi because it was based on the writing of Edgar Wallace. The Krimi film movement is German made films based on the work of crime writer Edgar Wallace. There were quite a few Krimi films made through the sixties and I think The Dead Eyes of London is one of the best. Wealthy men are being murdered and a home for the blind may be behind the killings. Blind men? Crazy! The story is pretty wild and it serves up more than its share of fast-paced thrills not to mention some rather impressive violence for 1961. The Dead Eyes of London is chocked full of atmosphere and there are moments that are quite chilling. There are some lulls here and there but overall the film keeps a steady pace. From its excellent opening scene to its exciting finale the film kept me intrigued. There are plenty of bizarre and eccentric characters particularly notable was Reverend Paul Dearborn played by Dieter Borsche. The Dead Eyes of London is solid entertainment and is a violent and exciting horror crime thriller.



Directed By: William Castle

Despite Homicidal’s similarities to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, the film is pure William Castle. Like all his films previously, Castle includes his trademark gimmick. Castle offered a money back guarantee for those too frightened to see Homicidal’s shocking climax. Just before the climax a clock appears on the screen. If you leave before the clock runs out, you will get your money back. BUT, you’ll have to stand in the “Coward’s Corner” until the other patrons are let out of the theatre. This is particularly hilarious since “the twist” is so frightfully obvious! Despite the painfully obvious twist the film kept me engaged throughout. An attractive blond woman checks into a hotel under the name Miriam Webster, offers a bellhop $2000 to marry her and ends up stabbing a justice of the peace! We learn the woman’s real name is Emily and she is the caretaker for a mute wheelchair bound woman named Helga. Miriam Webster is in fact the name of the half-sister of Emily’s employer Warren. The plot thickens when we learn Warren is about to come into a large fortune. The film has a lively pace and is even surprisingly dark at times with its themes of child abuse and sexuality. Joan Marshall is fascinating to watch as the callous Emily who slowly unravels during the course of the film. Emily is not particularly likable with her hissy fits, erratic spats of anger not to mention a few rather weird and awkward moments but her theatrics are a great deal of fun to watch! Homicidal is an entertaining thriller that despite the obvious “twist”, still has a few surprises and Joan Marshall’s deliciously over-the-top performance as Emily is worth the price of admission!



Directed By: John Gilling

The Shadow of the Cat is noted as being made by BHP Productions, but was made at Hammer Film’s Bray Studios. It also used several of Hammer’s film crew, including director John Gilling (Plague of the Zombies). I have no idea if this was a joint venture between the two, but it certainly has those classic Hammer attributes. Beautiful sets, great costumes, a pitch-perfect mood and great performances make The Shadow of the Cat very watchable. Although not noted in the writing credits The Shadow of the Cat is clearly a Poe-inspired tale. The Shadow of the Cat even begins with the reading of a passage from Poe’s The Raven. Walter Venable with the help of the maid and butler knocks off his wife Ella for her inheritance. The only witness is Ella’s beloved cat Tabitha. But Tabitha is no ordinary house cat and does her part to insure the guilty pay for their crimes. We know right from the start who committed the crime and who is exacting the revenge but there are still some surprises in the plot.  Tabitha is an adorable girl that looks like a pretty happy well-fed feline. She could not possibly strike fear in someone’s heart! Unless of course that someone is guilty of a crime. The relentless Tabitha terrorizes the guilty and freaks the hell out of them! The police and Beth (Ella’s favourite niece) are completely perplexed by the household’s unreasonable fear of Tabitha. The Shadow of the Cat is a well-paced, esthetically pleasing, charming film with strong performances and a most enjoyable story.



Directed By: Benito Alazraki

I’ve seen quite a few horror films hailing from Mexico during this journey through the 60s. Mexico had quite an active film industry through the decade. Unfortunately just about every last one of these films is dubbed, and quite badly I might add. I could not help but chuckle at some of the really over-the-top voice work in Curse of the Doll People. Nonetheless the film looks good and has an effective atmosphere with some unforgettable moments. The film is about a group of men who are cursed by a voodoo priest after stealing a ritual idol. The killers are dolls with needles! Well, not dolls so much as midgets wearing masks that look like their victims! What a trip. It was actually quite creepy! The film is reasonably paced, although it does have a wee bit of unnecessary filler but man there are some spectacular moments that easily makes Curse of the Doll People worth a watch.



Directed By: Curtis Harrington

Besides featuring a very young Dennis Hopper I knew absolutely nothing about Night Tide. Night Tide turned out to be a delightful surprise! It is a lovely, sad, haunting film. The film is heavily character-driven and slow paced but drenched in atmosphere. I adored the film’s crumbling beach-side carnival backdrop and its eerie use of the sea it overlooks. The beautiful old carousel, the tacky attractions, Captain Murdock’s amazing collection of trinkets and an appealing score that compliments it all perfectly. Hopper plays Johnny Drake a sailor on leave who falls in love with a mysterious young woman named Mora who performs as a mermaid in the local carnival. Possibly Hopper’s most subtle performance and he is likable and empathetic as Johnny. Equally endearing is Linda Lawson who plays Mora. Night Tide is a beautiful, mysterious and enthralling film I found very appealing.



Directed By: Seth Holt

You can bet there will be plenty more Hammer Films to make these sixties lists! Hell there is even one more on this list. Hammer Films ruled the 1960s! Taste of Fear is a lesser known film for the studio that is a well-executed horror-mystery-thriller. A wheel-chair bound Penny Appleby comes to live with her estranged father and step-mother only to find her father away on business. The young woman believes she seen her father’s corpse in a storage shed, but when they go to investigate there is nothing there. When the appearances continue to occur she begins questioning the possibility of foul play. An overly friendly stepmom, a suspicious doctor who makes daily house calls, an eager to help chauffeur and of course the neurotic wheelchair-bound Penny are all part of the mystery. There are clues throughout Taste of Fear’s story which twists and turns leading up to an excellent finale. Admittedly, not all the revelations are a surprise, but there is one in particular I did not see coming. Just the same, it is a well-rolled out plot and they keep things interesting. Christopher Lee is quite young in Taste Of Fear and only has a supporting role as Doctor Pierre Gerrard but contributes nicely. The cast is excellent especially Susan Strasberg who plays Penny Appleby. Taste of Fear has beautiful black and white photography, a great mood, strong performances and is a pretty great little mystery.



Directed By: Jerzy Kawalerowicz

Mother Joan of the Angels is loosely based on the 1634 case in Loudun, France of alleged devil possession of the Ursuline nuns. Aldous Huxley wrote his book The Devils of Loudun in the 1950’s also based on this story; which Ken Russell based his 1971 film The Devils. Mother Joan of the Angels just barely qualifies as horror, and isn’t remotely exploitative, so don’t come here expecting naughty Nunsploitation. Father Suryn is sent to replace a denounced priest who was burned at the stake and deal with a convent of allegedly devil-possessed nuns. Father Suryn soon meets Mother Joan and her demons and to save her he will ultimately question his lifetime of faith. Mother Joan of the Angels is above all else a character study. Lucyna Winnicka is stunning as Mother Joan. Her possession scenes are inspired! Winnicka gives a realistic performance never going over the top. Mieczyslaw Voit is both empathetic and intense as Father Suryn. Visually, Mother Joan of the Angels is utterly stunning. Its symmetrical and strikingly stark style is a feast for the eyes. Lacking any special effects the story is relayed by the visuals and the strong performances from the two leads. Mother Joan of the Angels is a gorgeously filmed, well-acted character study though barely qualifying as a horror film it is nonetheless a compelling watch.



Directed By: Roger Corman

The Pit and the Pendulum is another Roger Corman/Vincent Price outing based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe. According to IMDB Roger Corman produced an insane 401 films and directed 56 of those titles. Although Corman has producer credits right up to 2012, it was his 50s and 60s directorial efforts for which he will always have a fond place in my heart. Francis Barnard travels to Spain after learning his sister Elizabeth has died. Elizabeth’s husband Don Medina is the son of a notoriously barbaric Spanish inquisitor and lives in the family’s isolated castle. Francis is suspicious of Don Medina’s story that Elizabeth has died of a blood disease and much to Don Medina’s chagrin insists on staying at the castle until he uncovers the truth. The Francis Barnard character is probably my only real bone to pick. John Kerr is incredibly dull in this role. The rest of the cast however is brilliant; Vincent Price, Antony Carbone, Luana Anders and Barbara Steele are all top notch! The Pit and the Pendulum has a well-written suspenseful story that climbs steadily to its fantastic climax. The superb sets and props (especially that pendulum device!), the lush colors, its gorgeous gothic vibe, strong performances and an enthralling story all make for an entertaining watch.



Directed By: Terence Fisher

This is the second (3rd if you want to include Shadow of the Cat) Hammer Film to make the list for 1961. This is The Curse of the Werewolf’s second appearance on a dungeon list, formerly appearing in the number five spot of my ten favourite werewolf films. We begin our tale with a most interesting origin for our werewolf (which I will leave for you to discover on your own). Leon’s mother died in childbirth and Leon is adopted by the kindly Don Alfredo Corledo. Leon’s lycanthropy is discovered when he is young and on the advice of a priest the boy is showered with love and attention. Love indeed seems to be the answer as Leon becomes a grown man ready to head out in to the world. All goes swimmingly well for Leon who finds true love with Cristina the daughter of the owner of the wine cellar where he works. That is until he is denied the love of Cristina and he starts to get that taste for blood. The Curse of the Werewolf is a unique entry in the werewolf sub-genre. It employs some of the classic werewolf film elements you would expect but adds many of its own interesting touches that make it stand out. It is typical Hammer with its always impressive sets, props and costumes. Beautifully and inventively filmed by Terence Fisher and perfectly acted particularly by the excellent Oliver Reed. I loved the werewolf makeup they give Reed who is incredibly likable and empathetic as Leon. The Curse of the Werewolf is a beautiful, mesmerizing and mysterious treat!



Directed By: Jack Clayton

The Innocents is based on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. Miss Giddens is hired as a governess for two orphaned children living in an isolated estate in the country. She comes to believe the estate is haunted by the former governess and her lover whom are intent on possessing the children. The Innocents is as much a psychological trip as it is a ghost story. Its story is meticulously written and its seemingly simple plot is richly layered. The ending literally left me silent. Bloody hell is that an ending! Miss Giddens is a young, naive and inexperienced governess. She is a proper lady, seemingly reasonable with a gentle disposition who loves children. Miss Giddens personality traits are what make the events of the film such a mind blow. Deborah Kerr is outstanding as Miss Gibbons and gives a sublime performance that left me in awe. The Innocents is an intelligent, intriguing, brilliantly acted, beautifully filmed, dark and haunting masterpiece.


Goregirl’s Werewolf Project: TOP TEN FAVOURITE WEREWOLF FILMS!

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2012 by goregirl

This is it! Drum roll please…my top ten favourite werewolf films! I realized when I started this project that I had not seen as many werewolf films as I thought. I watched a lot of werewolf films over the last few months. Many were first viewings, others were re-watches. Besides the top ten and the seventeen films I posted reviews for, I watched another six Howling sequels (I reviewed Howling V) and there were another three films I didn’t get reviews done for. The three films were: Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001), Kibakichi Bakko-yokaiden (2004) and Werewolf in a Women’s Prison (2006). Brotherhood of the Wolf is an action film, not horror. It is a period piece with over-the-top matrix-esque like fight scenes, with a decent story and acting. It is an enjoyable film, but as mentioned, it is not a horror film (and it isn’t exactly a werewolf film either). Kibakichi is a werewolf/samurai film! I love Kibakichi’s 60s samurai film vibe, but sadly, there was not nearly as much action as I was expecting. Granted, the action scenes they include are terrific! The story is rather on the dreary side but not unappealing. Kibakichi also leans heavier towards an action film than horror. Kibakichi left me a bit unsatisfied, but I did like it. Finally we have the super low budget Werewolf in a Women’s Prison. I really should have made the time to review this one! This is definitely horror, and it certainly delivers on its title. You get a werewolf in an all women’s prison with plenty of boobs, gore and general naughtiness! The effects are cheap and sometimes downright hokey and much of the acting is bad but there is plenty of fun here for those who like a more Troma type horror film. I liked Werewolf in a Women’s Prison and would give it a recommend. There were another twenty-six werewolf films that I had seen in the last few years that I remembered well enough to know they wouldn’t make the list; An American Werewolf in Paris, Wolf, Bad Moon and Skinwalkers to name a few. A total of 62 films isn’t a very deep pool to draw from! IMDB had 236 films listed with a “werewolf” tag; 183 of those were horror. Of those 183 werewolf horror films, several of those were not exclusively werewolf films. For instance, Cabin in the Woods, Monster Squad, Trick R Treat and House of Frankenstein; all four feature a werewolf but it is not the film’s focus. I disqualified at least half the list for this reason. And finally there was another smaller chunk of mainly post-1989 entries that just didn’t seem worth bothering with. I would like to give a howl out to my three favourite werewolf films that didn’t make the top ten: Curse of the Devil, Ginger Snaps: Unleashed and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man! At the bottom of the top ten list are links to all seventeen werewolf films I reviewed this month.



Directed By: Rino Di Silvestro

I only read a few short IMDB reviews for Werewolf Woman that completely tore the film to shreds. Yeesh! Daniela Neseri was raped at the age of 13 and has become a lonely, troubled woman living in her father’s home in the country. Daniela finds some family heirlooms and learns of the strange history of a relative to whom she bares a striking resemblance. Turns out the relative was believed to be a werewolf and was chased down by a lynch mob and killed. Daniela begins having vivid dreams that she too is a werewolf and it isn’t long before she is ripping out throats. We are never led to believe Daniela is a werewolf; but Daniela wholeheartedly believes it! Daniela’s fevered dream of ritualistic naked dancing and the transformation which consists of covering her naked body with fun fur is something you are not likely to see twice. Two words for you…furry boobs. Lycanthropy, full frontal nudity, sex, masturbation, graphic violence, rape, revenge, furry boobs; Werewolf Woman has it all! Chocked full of Italian horror regulars including Dagmar Lassander, Tino Carraro, Howard Ross and a bold performance by Annik Borel as the title Werewolf Woman. Some questionably hilarious dialog (which may to some extent be a case of bad dubbing) would be my only complaint. Sure, Werewolf Woman is Euro-trash of the highest order, but that is what makes it so freaking awesome!



Directed By: Stuart Walker

In Werewolf of London a botanist returns from a trip to Tibet with a rare flower and the ability to turn into a werewolf. The story is simple but wonderfully effective, taking more of a scientific approach to the werewolf myths than a supernatural one. The beautifully filmed black and white movie has amazing effects and great werewolf makeup; as good as anything I have seen in the classic horror! The wonderful Henry Hull is terrific as a man whose shaky marriage to a younger woman is further complicated by the appearance of her childhood friend, a stranger who is a little too curious about his rare flower, not to mention, he is a bloody werewolf! I could take or leave some of the characters they add for comic relief but it certainly did not hurt the film any. There are some impressively creative shots; one of the best is the werewolf transformation among the columns! And what an ending!! If you dig the classic horror, Werewolf of London is a definite must see!



Directed By: Neil Jordan

If you follow this blog, you might recall The Company of Wolves appeared on my top 10 favourite horror films from 1984. The Company of Wolves is a dreamy, surreal nightmare from the mind of a girl just about to enter into womanhood. The film is a collection of interesting and original short stories symbolizing sexual awakening, puberty, male domination, and the like. It is not exactly an anthology, it is more accurately stories told within a story. It is well written, well acted, and the effects are quite impressive and unique. There is a cornucopia of different visual variations of the werewolf! Some of them are surprisingly nasty too! While The Company of Wolves definitely has a fairy tale vibe and is loaded with sexuality and no actual sex it is nonetheless adult-friendly. Don’t let the appearance of Angela Lansbury scare you off. She plays granny (of course), but she does come with considerable bite. I also enjoyed Terence Stamp’s cameo as the devil! The pubescent female lead is perfectly played by Sarah Patterson. The Company of Wolves is a film I have re-watched a few times over the years, and it never fails to entertain me.


#7 DOG SOLDIERS (2002)

Directed By: Neil Marshall

Show them how it’s done Neil Marshall! Marshall’s two entries from the past decade The Descent and Dog Soldiers gave me renewed hope that the horror genre still had some life left in it. Why oh why has he not made another horror film? Absolutely every last detail of Dog Soldiers is near perfect. Dog Soldiers has a solid story, excellent cast, well-written and natural dialog, great setting, outstanding mood and atmosphere and beauty practical effects. There is plenty of blood and gore; the werewolves make short work of their prey leaving nothing behind but entrails and blood. That stuff can really stick to a boot! The werewolves are extremely impressive from a distance and cast an intimidating shadow. The only ever so minor complaint I have is that some of the close shots look slightly less than perfect. I absolutely love the fact that Marshall opted for costumes over CGI. Dog Soldiers is freaking awesome! To read the full review click here.


#6 THE HOWLING (1981)

Directed By: Joe Dante

Joe Dante loves furry beasts. Before he made Gremlins, he created a film with a different sort of furry beast; an R-rated furry beast! Dante’s The Howling is a balls to the wall, kick ass horror film with nudity, gore and some bad-ass nasty werewolf effects that have held up beautifully! The Howling has a strong story, solid acting and a pitch perfect mood and atmosphere with a nicely escalating tension. I have read the odd complaint about this movie starting out slow, but I actually found The Howling to be well-paced. When the film goes “werewolf” it does so with grand style, and as a bonus, you get more than one creature! I have always been a fan of The Howling, but on my recent re-watch I found myself enjoying this even more than I recalled. I enjoyed every aspect of The Howling, but even impatient viewers should be impressed by The Howling’s spectacular werewolf effects and its seriously ass-kicking finale.



Directed By: Terence Fisher

If you know me, you know I love my Hammer films! If a Hammer werewolf film exists there is a good chance it would make my list. Surprise! Hammer does have a werewolf film in their catalogue helmed by one of Hammer’s best directors; Terence Fisher! The Curse of the Werewolf is lushly filmed, with stunning sets and costumes and a stirring mood thick with atmosphere. Its enthralling story and wonderfully unique spin on the werewolf origin, and an absolutely superb and empathetic performance from Oliver Reed is what landed it in the top ten. It is a shame to spoil the peculiar but original origins of the werewolf but they do adhere to most of the classic werewolf hokum. There is a love story, transformations by the full moon, and a compassionate and empathetic central character that is on par with my number two pick. The effects and makeup are awesome; I really love the light coloring for the werewolf. The Curse of the Werewolf is beautiful, mesmerizing and mysterious mayhem at its most masterful!



Directed By: Paul Naschy

I adore Paul Naschy! Mr. Naschy has played a werewolf 11 times. Naschy does double duty as director and lead actor of The Night of the Werewolf; he totally rocks in both roles! It is not the first Paul Naschy film to open with Elizabeth Bathory and an execution, but it is the best one! The film moves to current day 1981 with a trio of attractive (duh) female college students who are seeking out the grave of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. This one serves up vampires with its werewolf; but the film’s focus is definitely the werewolf. Okay, I admit, I made somewhat of an exception here for Mr. Naschy. Naschy plays the Waldemar Daninsky character in most of his werewolf films. He is great as the strong and troubled Daninsky and he always puts everything he’s got into his werewolf performance. I loved the werewolf makeup and the transformations and there is plenty of blood spilled! The film looks great all around; cool sets, nifty props, groovy wardrobes, nudity, gore, vampires, and a freaking werewolf! What the hell is not to like? Paul Naschy and The Night of the Werewolf is wickedly sweet, hardcore howlingly good entertainment!


#3 GINGER SNAPS (2000)

Directed By: John Fawcett

If you have been following this project, you probably already guessed Ginger Snaps was going to make the list. I reviewed both Ginger Snaps sequels and went on and on about my love for the original; I actually referred to this film as an “epiphany”. That is some strong language for me to use when I am talking about a film from the past decade. Ginger Snaps is smart, well-written, has great effects and an absolutely brilliant performance from its two lead actresses; Katherine Isabel and Emily Perkins. The two women have the most amazing chemistry; you do not question their relationship or motivations for a second. Much credit does belong to the writers who create two of the most interesting and likable teenage characters to appear in a horror film in bloody eons. This is the second film on this list where sexual coming-of-age symbolism is used to great effect. Everything about Ginger Snaps is effective. Ginger Snaps is not only an amazing werewolf film, it is one of the best horror films to come out of the past decade.


#2 THE WOLF MAN (1941)

Directed By: George Waggner

When I started this blog it was my intention to discover more classics of the black and white variety. I’ve seen numerous titles since, and The Wolf Man, without a doubt, has been one of my personal favourites. Visually the film is flawless. Fog shrouded forests, gypsy caravans, beautiful massive estates, eerie crypts and a dark moody vibe full of mystery and horror. The entire cast are outstanding, but it is Lon Chaney Jr’s portrayal of the tragic Lawrence Talbot that stays with me. I love the simple but engrossing story which would pave the way for many a werewolf film that followed. I love the idea of werewolves; man’s struggle with the inner beast, human instinct and animal instinct colliding! It is a big part of what appeals to me about the sub-genre. Universal’s The Wolf Man captures this conflict so brilliantly. I’ve mentioned several times throughout this project that I prefer the half-man, half-wolf type werewolf and Chaney’s timeless portrait of the tortured Talbot and the solid creature makeup will forever be engraved into my heart. The Wolf Man is one of the most endearing horror films I’ve ever seen; an absolute classic!



Directed By: John Landis

There are a few movie going experiences one never forgets. One of those for me was An American Werewolf in London. It is the one and only time I snuck into a movie before I was old enough to get in. We missed the first 15 minutes and I was so freaked out I made myself nauseous and couldn’t eat my popcorn. But it was so worth it! The effects in An American Werewolf in London blew my mind back in the day! I’ve watched this film many times since and the effects still blow my mind! Without a doubt, it is one of the most visually arresting uses of practical effects to ever grace a horror flick. It is a fantastic looking film all around. The Wales countryside is a beautiful location that also offers an eerie and intimidating vastness. An American Werewolf in London has the perfect marriage of comedy and horror. The film has some great laughs but still manages some serious intensity. David Naughton and Griffin Dunne are the perfect duo and both deliver great performances. And bloody hell!! What an ending! An American Werewolf in London has long been a favourite horror film and will have a place on my top 100 list forever. I will love this movie until I die.


Films reviewed during this project:


Howling V: The Rebirth

Curse of the Devil

She-Wolf of London

The Werewolf of Washington

I was a Teenage Werewolf

The Mad Monster

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning

Ginger Snaps: Unleased

The Wolfman

Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory

The Fury of the Wolf Man

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man

The Beast Must Die

Werewolves on Wheels