Hammer Films cranked out a host of ghoulishly wonderful features sure to satisfy in full Technicolor horror. In 1961, Hammer released Curse of the Werewolf starring Oliver Reed and it was surprisingly good.
In the film, Reed plays a tormented young man, his birth the result of his mother being raped. This, and his birth falling on Christmas Day, has cursed him with the evil of being a werewolf. I’ve always like Reed as an actor and he does a solid job playing both human and werewolf.
It may not be the best werewolf movie out there, but it is definitely worth watching. And it is available on Blu-ray as part of an eight-movie Hammer Films combo.
A Curse Is Created
Set in 18th Century Spain, the film starts with a beggar (Richard Wordsworth) begging alms at a nobleman’s wedding celebration. But the cruel Marquis Siniestro (Anthony Dawson) imprisons the beggar after an impertinent remark. Left forgotten in his cell, the beggar’s only human contacts are his jailer, and the jailer’s mute daughter (Yvonne Romain).
After 15 years in a cell, the beggar has lost his mind. And when the jailer’s daughter refuses the advances of the Marquis, she is thrown into the cell with the mad beggar. He attacks and rapes her. She is then released and sent back to the Marquis. But she kills the Marquis and flees where she is found by Don Alfredo Corledo (Clifford Evans).
Corledo brings her to his home where his housekeeper Teresa (Hira Talfey) nurses the girl back to health. However, on Christmas Day, the girl goes into labor and dies giving birth to a son. Corledo adopts the boy as his own son, Leon, and he and Teresa raise the boy.
Early Signs Of Evil
The boy is involved in a hunting accident and soon after goats start turning up dead. Leon is not suspected yet as a neighbor’s dog is considered the prime suspect. Over a dozen years pass without incident and Leon grows into a fine young man. Corledo is very proud of him.
Werewolf Boy Meets Girl
Leon takes a job at a nearby vineyard and forms a friendship with co-worker Jose Amadayo (Martin Matthews). He also falls in love with the vineyard owner’s daughter Cristina (Catherine Feller). But the love seems ill-fated and Leon becomes convinced he will never claim her as his.
Depressed, Leon goes to a brothel to drown his sorrows. There Leon transforms into a werewolf, slaying both a girl and his friend before returning to the vineyard.
He discovers that when near Cristina he does not become a werewolf. He is set to run away with her when he is arrested for the murders.
Leon begs to be executed before he becomes a werewolf once again, but he is not believed. Only when he does transform and kills two more people is action taken. Don Alfredo, the kindly man who raised the orphan child as his own shoots and kills Leon with a silver bullet and covers his son’s corpse with his cloak.
The role was the first starring role for Reed and it shows the promise of the long career that laid ahead for him.