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How (or is that "howl") did they always come up with something so neat?
lee_eisenberg3 April 2006
I think that more than anything, "The Curse of the Werewolf" does what too many werewolf movies fail to do: offer an explanation of how the first werewolf got created. Apparently, if someone is conceived under rather unpleasant circumstances, that person is a lycanthrope. After a beggar gets imprisoned in 18th century Spain, he rapes the jailer's daughter. She dies in childbirth, but her son Leon is raised by a nobleman. Sure enough, Leon is a werewolf. As an adult, Leon (Oliver Reed) tries to control himself, but unfortunately can't.

This is another addition to Hammer's cool filmography. It shows Leon's inner torment, knowing what will happen every full moon. As for associating Spain with werewolves, that country of course produced actor Paul Naschy, who has made a career out of playing werewolves; Portland's own Movie Madness even has a section devoted to him.
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Specters7 October 2003
A very involving Hammer production that chronicles the history and life of Leon (Reed) who becomes cursed at birth causing him to turn into a werewolf when the moon is full. This is a story driven movie. The action and violence is sparse, but that's not what this movie is about. Playing out like a historical drama, Curse of the Werewolf details werewolf mythology like I have never seen. The performances are fine, and the film has an ambient feel to it that makes it even more appealing. Don't sit down to this movie expecting a bloodbath, Curse of the Werewolf is a well written, brilliantly conceived, and nicely plotted thriller.
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Very enjoyable and different
MartinHafer6 January 2008
This was a highly unusual werewolf film and I am actually surprised that Hammer films went on to make many Dracula sequels but not werewolf ones, since this film was well made and quite enjoyable.

The film begins with a very long prologue--telling a sad tale about an evil man who was responsible for the curse that eventually made poor Oliver Reed become a werewolf. The entire story was quite interesting and VERY different from the Universal Studios vision of how one becomes a werewolf. Instead of being bitten by another werewolf, it was a rather convoluted curse. The only problem with this story, though, is logical. You see, Oliver Reed's adoptive father narrates the prologue BUT how he knew most of the details is quite impossible--as Reed's mother was a mute and didn't have communication skills to explain most of the story. Plus, parts of it she couldn't have known! I guess the narrator just read the script, because there was no other way he could have been privy to the information! Despite this serious logical flaw, the rest of the film was very compelling--with Reed making a very sympathetic creature. Plus, like the old Universal films, Hammer did a good job of not showing too much--only letting you see the creature near the very end of the film.

Excellent acting and production values combined with a very interesting though flawed script make this an excellent movie for fans of Gothic horror.
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Wonderful Werewolf Film
BaronBl00d27 November 1999
It's Spain and a beggar walks through a deserted town forced into public festivities at the marriage of a miserly, degrading Marqis. He goes to the palace in search of food, and instead is given life imprisonment. This is the opening of one of Hammer's best monster films, and easily one of the best lycanthrope films ever made. The beggar through a raping of a servant girl spawns a baby werewolf. The film is about this boy and then man living with his affliction and finally succumbing to its eventual fate. Terrence Fisher has done a superb job with his direction, creating atmospheric sets, wonderful, rich costuming, an impressive musical score highlighting key dramatic moments, and most notably creating a story of a beast in man with compassion, understanding, and depth. The acting all around is excellent(once you get past the notion of Britishers playing Spainards), and Oliver Reed stands out as the young protagonist literally being torn apart inside. The make-up for the beast, while not as grand as Universals, is top-notch and harrowing to the eye. The film is a sight to see and it again affirms that many of the monsters of the movies are tragic heros not in control of what they do.
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A superb addition to the cinematic annals of lycanthrope
fertilecelluloid19 May 2006
A modest werewolf "epic" that never feels formulaic in the hands of director Terence Fisher and writer Anthony Hinds. The film is one of Hammer's most accomplished and deals with the subject of lycanthrope with some imagination. Young Leon (Justin Walters), the consequence of a rape, is born with what appears to be a dormant werewolf gene that is awakened when he tastes the warm, "sweet" blood of a bird. Unable to resist his true nature, he starts killing livestock in a small rural community. His juvenile rampage doesn't last long because the local priest (John Gabriel) identifies his condition and encourages his adopted parents to shower him with love and affection, convinced that it is love that will keep the boy's desires at bay. Clearly, the priest's faith in love is not misplaced, because, ten year's later, the adult Leon (nicely played by Oliver Reed), who has just left home, is only a wolf with the women. He falls hard for the daughter of his employer, but when he is deprived of her love, his lycanthrope surfaces and the killings begin again, only this time he leaves the livestock alone.

The film is a character drama in werewolf clothing, and, though it references genre classics such as "The Wolfman", "The Werewolf of London", and even "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" in its climax, it is still very much its own animal. There is a welcome depth to the performances and Reed's acceptance of his condition and desire to be destroyed gives the piece a fine sense of tragedy.

Unlke the genre films of today, which make this feel like something made on another planet, "The Curse of the Werewolf" really takes its time to establish a solid foundation for its horror and is a refreshing product of far less cynical times in which human warmth was seen as essential, not "uncool".

The last shot, in my opinion, is flawed. When the dead werewolf is flipped onto his side by his adopted father, he is not shown, in death, as having returned to his former state as represented by Oliver Reed.

A fine achievement.
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One of my favorite horror films.
jamesaxbrice4 April 2004
On certain days I consider The Curse of the Werewolf to be my all-time favorite horror film. In my opinion it was Hammer's best effort except, possibly, for the highly underrated Phantom of the Opera with Herbert Lom. The story is most unique and carries a strong, yet very Catholic, spiritual element. The cinematography is excellent as well as Terence Fisher's direction. One of the most outstanding qualities of the movie is the immaculately intricate and powerful music score by Benjamin Frankel. I've never heard of this composer before or since, but I would love to find this score on CD.

There are already plenty of write-ups detailing thoughts on the story, so I won't go there. The acting is adequate to superb, and Oliver Reed does an outstanding job portraying a tormented soul protractedly possessed by the raging spirit of unbridled destruction. I've notice one goof in the movie that is actually rather glaring when you notice it... The movie starts off with narration, "Some two-hundred years ago in a village in Spain, blah blah blah...", and as the story develops to the end of the narration, the servant girl is in the swamp as Clifford Evans approaches and the narration ends with, "and that is how I found her."

The movie is filled with powerful scenes and the story keeps the viewer involved at all times. It slips a bit when the wolf hunter, Pepe, finds a dead sheep and says, " Hello, what's this then?" A bona-fide Spanish Limey! Despite the movie's low-budget production and the era it was created, it ranks as an excellent horror film even by today's standards. If you are a person who has to have graphic violence and lots of running and screaming to keep you entertained, then this movie is not for you. If you enjoy a good, original story and interesting characters then this movie will suffice.
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A Great Werewolf Film by Hammer
claudio_carvalho25 November 2018
In the Eighteenth Century, in Spain, a beggar comes to the castle of a cruel marquee on his wedding day to beg for food, and the marque locks him in his dungeon, where he is forgotten. The mute daughter of the gaoler feeds him along the years. When she grows-up, the widower marquee unsuccessfully tries to shag her and locks the servant in the dungeons with the beggar that rapes her. When she is released, she kills the marquee and flees to the forest. She is found living like an animal in the woods by Don Alfredo (Clifford Evans) and he brings her home. Soon his servant Teresa (Hira Talfrey) finds that she is pregnant. When she gives birth to a boy on Christmas, she dies and the boy Leon is raised by Don Alfredo and Teresa. A few years later they learn the curse that the boy carries with him, and the local priest advises that he must be raised with love. What will happen to Leon?

"The Curse of the Werewolf" is a great werewolf film by Hammer. Directed by Terence Fisher, the storyline follows the curse of a werewolf since its origin. The direction, performances and make-up are top-notch and the sets and locations never disappoint. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "A Maldição do Lobisomem" ("The Curse of the Werewolf")
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One of the best Werewolf films ever
spacemonkey_fg3 March 2005
Title: Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

Director: Terence Fisher

Cast:Oliver Reed, Clifford Evans, Catherine Feller

Review: Hammer films is known for making many vampire films, many Frankenstein films, and even a few Mummy films...but for some reason Curse of the Werewolf was their one and only werewolf film ever made. Even though they only made one Werewolf film, I'm happy because at least the only one they did make is really really good.

The story is about a beggar who gets thrown into a dungeon by a despotic marquis who takes pleasure in demeaning other human beings. The beggar spends years upon years in prison until he becomes almost animal like. A young and beautiful servant girl is thrown into the same cell as the insane beggar is because she rejected going to bed with the same marquis. The beggar decides to rape her and the offspring of that rape is Leon Corledo. A young boy who is cursed to become a werewolf because he was born on Christmas Day. And on this movie, being born on Christmas Day means you are forever cursed to become a werewolf when the full moon comes.

I enjoyed this movie immensely and I have to say that one of the things that enhanced my enjoyment of it was Oliver Reeds portrayal of Leon Corledo. He is magnificent in this movie. He has a great presence and a roughness to him that is perfect for playing a man cursed with lycanthropy. He has some very intense moments in which we can see that he is torn between letting his animal side loose or keeping it under control.

Terence Fisher, one of Hammers prime directors did a fine Job in bringing to life the tale of the werewolf. Hes done many fine Hammer films in the past and this one is just another jewel in his crown of great horror films. The movie is heavy on atmosphere and creepy visuals. A standout moment for me was when the young Leon has turned into a werewolf in his room and cant escape it because his stepfather has barred the windows in his room so he cant escape at night. The look on the kids face and the music is a real horror movie moment. Fisher made sure there's plenty of cool shots of the fool moon hovering over the dark sky as we hear the howling of a wolf in the distance. Or the scene in which the are going to baptize young Leon and the water in the altar starts to boil.... Its nice touches like those that make a Hammer/Terence Fisher film special.

I also liked how they treated the origin of the werewolf. The really go back and explain how it all started. Its not just a movie about a werewolf running amok killing people in a little town. Here we get the whole back story as to how the whole thing started. I liked that. It gave the film lots of depth. Its a story covering a few decades of history. Another thing that made the story special was the idea that love and compassion towards Leon could help him control the beast inside of him.

Then there's the werewolf transformation, which is after all one of the big things about watching a werewolf film. There's always a spotlight on the transformation sequence. Its always a showstopper in films like "American Werewolf in London" and "The Howling" and even in "The Wolfman". Here I must say that for the time it was made, the make up is really excellent. I'm guessing that it was for budgetary reasons that hey held the transformation all the way till the very ending, but when it does happen its very good. I was amazed that for the time it was made (1961) it turned out as good as it did. In fact I think this look was the one that Fredd Dekker was paying homage to when he directed his monster film The Monster Squad, in which The Werewolf teams up with Dracula, Frankensteins monster, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Mummy to bring the forces of darkness to earth. The look of the werewolf in that movie is exactly like the one seen on Curse of the Werewolf. I don't blame Fred Dekker for wanting to pay homage to such a cool creature.

The only downside to this movie? Watching English actors playing Spaniards. It was kind of funny to see that the only thing that they added to their acting to make it look Spaniard was saying "Señor" at the end of every sentence.

Finally, Id say that this is one of the best Hammer films ever made and that this movie deserves a whole lot more recognition then it gets. It should be out on DVD, because as it is, its one of the best werewolf films ever made.

Rating: 5 out of 5
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The Curse Of The Werewolf (1961) **1/2
Bunuel197611 February 2006
This film, more by accident than design, has become one of my most-watched Hammer films. Actually, I liked it immediately and, therefore, I return to it willingly...though I wouldn't really rank it among their top films! Still, for being the studio's only stab at the werewolf legend, the plot is pretty stacked with fanciful lore which differs quite a bit from what Universal came up with in the 30s and 40s...or, for that matter, anything that we've seen since! Truth be told, it's highly improbable and even rather silly but, then, the film is so thick with atmosphere throughout (belying the typical low budget) that it doesn't matter at all! Oliver Reed essays his most significant starring role for Hammer with dignity and a brooding quality, in my opinion, and the supporting cast does pretty well by their roles but, again, the film's main asset is its beautiful look (including the wonderful werewolf make-up). I also don't mind the fact that we see the fully-fledged transformation only once as the build-up to it is terrific and the film, on the whole, emerges as one of Fisher's most assured efforts.
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Oliver Reed gets job in a Winery!
Prichards1234525 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Curse of The Werewolf marks the beginning of a slight decline in the quality of Hammer's "Golden Age" horror output. It's a good film in its own right, with some very effective scare sequences; but the script also meanders too much, has some fine British character actors looking a bit uncomfortable playing Spanish peasants and also lacks the plush visuals Jack Asher used to bestow on their prior movies.

Ollie Reed allegedly visited the pub in Bray village in his lunch hour in full werewolf make-up - and no one batted an eyelid! Reed himself is very good in his first Hammer starring vehicle; it's often forgotten amidst all his hilarious hell-raising that he was a fine actor, and the role of Leon is a useful vehicle for his talents.

This actually feels like an origin story for a character intended to appear in a series of movies, as the attention to detail in showing how Leon developed his condition is perhaps a bit too much for a single film; but the opening scenes with the beggar and Marques are powerful and compelling. Indeed thanks to the farrago over Peeping Tom Hammer got into trouble with the censor over these scenes - somewhat of an irony as they were always careful to work closely with the BBFC at every stage of production.

You have to admire some of the bravura horror scenes here - the five year old Leon frantically tugging at the bars on his window to escape his confinement - the murder of the prostitute - Leon changing in the prison cell to his werewolf form to the astonishment of Michael Ripper. All these are handled superbly, as is Leon's baptismal scene, the latter landing Hammer in hot water again with the censor.

Director Terence Fisher tries to work in a tragic love story - a theme of his he was very keen to develop in his horror movies at the time. It does add to the story here, but he was to work it less effectively in Phantom of The Opera and The Gorgon.

Curse of The Werewolf remains an enjoyable horror film, and, after he once drank 126 pints in 24 hours, the modern viewer can derive much amusement from watching Ollie having to be coerced into going to the pub!
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Pretty Good Old Werewolf Flick
Rainey-Dawn11 December 2014
This is a pretty good old werewolf film... it's not that bad. This one he looks more like a Wolf Man (similar to Lon Chaney, Jr.) than the more modern werewolf.

Curse of the Werewolf has a very interesting film beginning of how Leon's parents met, what happened to them, how he was born and taken in to be cared for. The story hits a little bit of a low for a few minutes but then picks back up around 50 minutes into it.

This is a great late night popcorn flick... it's a bit interesting and can be enjoyed by fans of older horror films.

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One Of Hammer's Finest
Theo Robertson3 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
On the surface this could easily be dismissed as just another hammy Hammer horror film and to a degree does contain many of the trademarks . Let's see now

Monster - check

Most foreigners are dangerous scum - check

Inherited wealth and social standing equals cruel sadism - check

Most young woman have big boobs - check

You can't help thinking if Benny Hill was a communist he'd be making Hammer horrors as propaganda films and despite as insane as it sounds this is exactly how much of THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF plays out and yet the film does it brilliantly . Class division and a slightly conscious mild xenophobia are in evidence and yet that is what makes this film one of the studio's finest productions . It might be tame today but there's more to it than Oliver Reed putting on a furry mask and false teeth

The story is probably best in the first third set in 18th Century Spain where a begger arrives at the wedding reception of the local Marques who after publicly humiliating the begger has him thrown in to the dungeon below the castle . Years pass and the jailer's daughter is imprisoned and becomes a rape victim of the begger . This section illustrates very well a running theme of Hammer horrors where the European locale is hostile to outsiders and positively cruel towards any sort of underclass , and you think perhaps this film might be a firm favourite with Marx . Lenin and Orwell . The cast are very good in these scenes especially Richard Wordsworth as the begger and Anthony Dawson as the Marques who plays the role with shades of Franco

If there's a problem with any of this it is that the rest of the film pales in comparison and a film that has Werewolf in the title we don't see much werewolf action . Oliver Reed is .... well no prizes for guessing the first thing you think off when the late legend is mentioned and it is amusing that his character Leon is sent away to work in a vineyard and in some scenes it looks like Reed might have been sampling the goods a bit too much . That said he does have presence and brings a pathos to Leon that is always needed in a character who is cursed by lycanthropy

This is a very good film from the Hammer Studios , a company that high brow critics often scoff at but whose output was very popular with the British public , possibly because the films appeal to the working class " little Englander " mentality and it's probably this post war Briton world view that makes the film so enjoyable
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Over-the-top horror film directed by the master of Hammer Production , Terence Fisher
ma-cortes5 February 2013
Extremely Gothic terror intent in the Universal vein and walks a fine line between romance , camp , Wolfman's classic and horror . It displays excellent set design , ambitious screenplay with too many eerie scenes and adequate interpretation for all casting . Terror picture that is renowned for ferocious departure from the stereotypical portrait of the beast . It is set in Europa , dealing with a 19 Century European werewolf , as it happens in Spain , Leon is born on Christmas day to a mute servant girl (Yvonne Romain) who was imprisoned by a nobleman (Anthony Dawson) and raped by a beggar (Richard Wordsworth stated that in the original screenplay his beggar character was a werewolf) . His mother dies giving birth and he is looked after by Don Alfredo (Clifford Evans) and his maid . As a child Leon turned into a werewolf after having been taken hunting . Leon (Oliver Reed in his first horror movie), transformed by the full moon, heads for the forest and a fateful meeting with the villagers . He is developing an extraordinary force and aware himself has a horrible curse who cannot to control . As a young man he works in a wine cellar and falls in love with the owner's daughter named Cristina (Catherine Feller). The curse will be passed on to him at the next full moon and he again turns into a werewolf and terrifies the town.

This exciting motion picture displays drama , suspense, terror with mysterious touches and is quite entertaining ; being the only werewolf movie made by Hammer Studios . It's a crossover with a little of the classic version ¨Lon Chaney's Werewolf¨, the novel ¨Wolfman in Paris¨ by Guy Endore and wrapped in a Hammer style . Atmospheric, slick terror film , creaky at times but it's still impressive . The notorious screenwriter John Elder or Anthony Hinds provides a well-knit plot with mystery and horror, giving full rein to Terence Fisher natural talent for the terror genre . However , being censorshipped , as over five minutes were cut by the censor for the British release and even more for the American version ; the censor had problems with the notion of a werewolf/rapist, so out it went . It's some different but with clear reference to previous vintage film . Good performances from Oliver Reed as a creepy wolfman and Clifford Evans as his mentor . The transformation of man into werewolf is complex and is made by expert make-up artist Roy Ashton who based his makeup for this film on Jack P. Pierce's makeup for The Wolfman by George Waggner (1941) that starred Lon Chaney Jr and Bela Lugosi . Frighteing and thrilling musical score by Benjamin Frankel . Colorful and shining cinematography by Arthur Gant , Hammer's ordinary , being filmed in Bray Studios. The motion picture was masterfully directed by Terence Fisher who filmed classic horror films as ¨Dracula¨, ¨Dracula , prince of darkness¨ , ¨The brides of Dracula¨ , ¨The mummy¨ , ¨Phantom of opera¨, ¨The Gorgon¨ , ¨The devil rides out¨ and many others . Rating : Top-drawer terror film , upscale horror spectacle with a suitable climax at a church . Essential and indispensable watching for Hammer lovers . It's an above average terror and sometimes graphically exciting and turns out to be a good attempt to cash in the werewolf sub-genre . Rating : 6,5 Good .
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An absolute gem from Hammer
Steamcarrot23 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This Terence Fisher directed Hammer film is not just a great horror but a great film, which is all the more remarkable if you consider the werewolf doesn't actually appear till near the end.

The story starts many years before the afflicted one is born and you get the whole history of how he came into being. A beggar is thrown into a cell by a despotic nobleman and forgotten about. The only people he has any contact with are the jailer and his mute daughter. Over time the daughter grows up and becomes the beautiful Yvonne Romain who, after avoiding the amorous advances of the now decrepit nobleman, ends up being thrown into the same cell as the beggar, who is now quite insane and rapes her. She escapes, kills the nobleman and disappears into the woods where she is eventually found by the kindly Don Alfredo Corledo who takes her home to care for her. The product of the rape is born on Christmas Day which means bad luck for the kid, as children born out of wedlock on the day Christ was born are cursed. After a few years, goats started getting killed and everything points to the young Leon being the culprit (his mother died in childbirth and the kindly Corledo is raising him as his own). So his windows are barred to stop his excursions and, most importantly, he is given love and affection which stops the werewolf coming out.

This is one of the best aspects of Hammer's version of the werewolf tale. This version of the lycanthrope legend purports that the man/werewolf is in constant battle within the person : when the spirit of the man is weak, the werewolf will emerge, but when the spirit of the man is strong the werewolf will not. So when showered with the love and affection Corledo and his missus give him the werewolf is not to be seen. When he leave home he falls in love which again keeps the beast at bay, but this is a horror film and the beast will emerge.

The film looks wonderful. The Spanish sets are realistic and Fisher handles the proceedings in his usual faultless way. The addition of the love story here is integral to the plot and works perfectly. What really helps with this film is the long pre-werewolf story which adds so much depth to the character of Leon that it makes it a stand-alone film in the lycanthrope genre. Probably most Hammer fans would put this under the perfect ten, but to me it is perfect and also occasionally beautiful.
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Hammer 's Only Werewolf Film.
AaronCapenBanner23 November 2013
Terence Fisher directed this violent but effective werewolf tale from Hammer studios. It begins with a beggar being imprisoned in a dungeon after offending the local royalty. Years later, after falling into an degenerate state, the beggar attacks the mute servant girl of his jailer. She escapes, but later dies after giving birth on Christmas day, but her baby is adopted by a couple. Years later, the baby has grown into a young man named Leon(played by Oliver Reed) who leaves his father(played by Clifford Evans) to go look for work in the city, but the werewolf curse of his birth takes hold, as he goes on a murder spree, which only the love of a woman can prevent... Oliver Reed is quite good as the doomed young man, helped by fine direction and makeup F/X, though the story is overly lurid, particularly for its time.
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It's a struggle from the womb to the tomb.
hitchcockthelegend23 October 2011
The Curse of the Werewolf is directed by Terence Fisher and written by John Elder (producer Anthony Hinds), loosely based on the novel The Werewolf of Paris written by Guy Endore. It stars Clifford Evans, Oliver Reed, Yvonne Romain, Catherine Feller and Anthony Dawson. Out of Hammer Film Productions it's a Technicolor production with photography by Arthur Grant and music by Benjamin Frankel.

Hammer's only venture into the lair of the Werewolf proves to be a tragic-romance-cum-nightmarish fairytale more than a film dealing with the savage roamings of a lycanthrope. Off the bat it has to be noted that the film is not overtly horror, something that may result in disappointment for any potential first time thrill seeker. That said, this is still a cracker-jack of a movie, boasting the best of a Hammer production (sets, music, colour, direction) with a narrative of cruel markings and links to puberty, sexual awakenings/urges and Jesus Christ! It's strongly cast, with Reed effective with his brooding good looks, Romain piercing the eyes with her Technicolor sexiness and Dawson knocking it out of the park as a vile bastard son of Ebenezer Scrooge! British fans also get the added bonus of catching familiar TV faces Warren Mitchell and Peter Sallis in secondary support slots.

Paced as it is, very much on the slow burn with a good portion of the picture dealing in the origins of Reed's cursed Leon character, much of the film lacks tension and suspense. This lures one into expecting a barn-storming finale by way off a pay off for the viewers patience. Sadly it's no crowning glory, yes it doffs its cap to the old Universal Creature Features of the 40s and 50s; and there's definitely some emotional heft for the bell tower closure, but it just lacks the dynamism needed to lift it into the upper echelons of Hammer's best output. There's also the small matter of Catharine Feller, who is weak as one of the films crucial female characters. These are problems, even if ultimately they don't detract from the expert story telling of the makers and the fact that visually it's a gorgeous and alluring movie.

With a different spin on the Werewolf legend to be applauded, The Curse of the Werewolf, one or two missteps aside, is still an essential Hammer movie. Even if it could and should have been a little more than that. 7.5/10
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Hammer's first and sadly only werewolf movie
Woodyanders8 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Spain in the 18th century: Cruel tyrant Marques Siniestro (a wonderfully wicked Anthony Dawson) imprisons a poor beggar (a fine Richard Wordsworth) in the basement of his castle. The beggar degenerates into a deranged feral state and rapes a mute servant girl (the stunningly gorgeous Yvonne Romain). The servant girl dies after giving birth to a little boy named Leon on Christmas Eve, which according to local superstition means that the unfortunate lad is cursed. Leon is raised by the kindly Don Alfredo Corledo (splendidly played by Clifford Evans). The decent, but anguished young man Leon (an outstanding performance by Oliver Reed) goes to work at a wine cellar and falls for the lovely Cristina Fernando (a charming turn by the comely Catherine Feller). Alas, Leon becomes a savage werewolf when the full moon comes out at night and terrorizes the countryside. Director Terence Fisher maintains a steady pace throughout, effectively creates a brooding gloom-doom atmosphere, and stages the werewolf attack scenes with considerable aplomb. Arthur Grant's sharp, vibrant color cinematography, Benjamin Frankel's moody, shuddery score, Roy Ashton's excellent make-up f/x (the werewolf is genuinely frightening), and the rousing conclusion are all up to speed. Reed impresses in an early lead as the tormented Leon; Justin Walter also does well as Leon as a little boy. Michael Ripper has a funny bit as a raving old drunk. Best of all, there's a touching tragic aspect to the story which gives this picture a surprisingly substantial amount of additional poignancy and resonance. A solid and satisfying fright feature winner.
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Very under-appreciated Hammer horror
TheLittleSongbird26 January 2015
The Curse of the Werewolf is not Hammer at their best(Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein and The Mummy) but it is worthy of more credit than it does at the moment.

It's not without flaws, the biggest flaw being the introduction/prologue, which solely covers the main character's back story, which does take up too much of the film(the second half of the film is much more interesting) and not everything is relevant to the back-story, the subplot with the goat-herder and night watchman could easily have been left out. The inn scenes at times veer on parody and there is a lack of authenticity setting-wise, despite being set in Spain the film always has a very British feel.

As ever with Hammer though The Curse of the Werewolf is a well-made film, it's photographed beautifully and in a way that enhances the atmosphere rather than detract from it while the costumes and sets are very stylish. I actually had no problem with the brighter-than-usual lighting or felt that it trivialised the atmosphere. Visually it's the make-up that's particularly great, it's some of the best make-up of any film Hammer made(impressively designed and scary-looking), very ahead-of-its-time too, and Leon in his werewolf guise is one of their best-looking monsters(better than any of the Hammer Frankenstein monsters, although I do consider that series of films bar 2 superior films). The music score is equally great, the intricacies in how it's scored is to be admired and atmosphere-wise it's hauntingly powerful stuff that at its best brings a nail-biting intensity.

The Curse of the Werewolf is intelligently scripted and mostly tight in structure, though that is a bit of froth that adds little. While the back-story is flawed, in exploring the origins of how the titular character came to be it also succeeds in making the character interesting and one that can be identified with easily. The werewolf lore is well and imaginatively handled and the build-up to the still quite shocking werewolf transformation is incredibly suspenseful, in fact the entire second half is engrossing and while some may find it tame to me and others it still has the ability to shock. Terence Fisher's direction is typically unflinching and technically accomplished and the acting is very good. Richard Wordsworth is very moving as the Beggar and the standout in support but it's the riveting performance of Oliver Reed that makes the film, he is genuinely scary but also poignantly sympathetic, making Leon one of those characters where you feel repulsion and pity for him.

Overall, very under-appreciated and worthwhile without being one of Hammer's best films. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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excellent werewolf movie
r-c-s5 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
While Universal's WOLF MAN trekked the path of legends, this movie treks a more psycho-sociological path: mute servant girl is raped by a beggar unjustly imprisoned after a humiliation at a marquis' weddings. In prison, the beggar turns into sort of caged animal ( is is a metaphor of power relationships? ). The girl finally escapes and is taken under the protection of a gentleman. She dies giving birth and young Leon is born dec 25. Only unconditional love -so claims a priest informed of Leon's plight- might keep the "beast within" at bay ( another psychosocial hint? ). Later on, Leon ( superbly played ) meets and falls in love with his employer's her presence, love can keep the beast at bay...yet a few murders have been committed already. Another tragedy is still to occur. Very Good acting from Reed; good from Evans and Talfrey. A nice movie, very easy to enjoy, with a plot thick enough. Some argue the back story is too much, but i suggest it is an essential part to get a clue about the "psychosocial" spin in the movie. The werewolf here doesn't seem a relic from ages old legends like Lon Chaney's, nor some bizarre alien like in more modern movies...isn't it rather a metaphor? Isn't Leon rather carrying the weight of the wrongdoing he was a result of, denouncing certain power inequalities? The plot is linear and unfolds nicely, with no subplots getting in the way.
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Blood thirsty and relentless.
michaelRokeefe30 October 2000
This is second only to the wonderful original starring Lon Chaney, Jr. twenty years earlier. Oliver Reed brings a more pronounced character to the ravenous tippy toed terror of the night. This is a top notch project from director Terence Fisher and one of the best from Hammer Studios.

Rounding out the play bill are Clifford Evans, Yvonne Romain, Hira Talfrey and Michael Ripper.
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Hammer's dark and classy epic tragedy...
jluis198425 January 2007
Story says that when a deal for a co-produced movie set in Spanish Civil War fell, legendary producer Anthony Hinds of Hammer Films decided to use the already built sets in a horror movie of their own in order to recover some of the investment. With time and budget against him, he decided to write the screenplay himself, getting inspiration from the legendary 1933 horror novel, "The Werewolf of Paris ", by Guy Endore. Writing under the pen name of John Ender, Hinds made his own adaptation of the classic novel, named "The Curse of the Werewolf", and set his story in 18th Century Spain. Filmmaker Terence Fisher, Hammer's most successful and original director, was the man chosen to give life to Hinds' epic tragedy of a man born under the terrible curse of the Werewolf.

The story begins with the arrival of a poor beggar (Richard Wordsworth) to Spaniard county, where he becomes the victim of the Marques' (Anthony Dawson) sadism and becomes prisoner at the castle. Time goes by and many years later a beautiful mute servant girl (Yvonne Romain) has the same luck and ends in the same cage as the beggar, who in his madness, brutally rapes the young woman. After that tragic event, the servant manages to escape from the castle, only to be found by Don Alfredo Corledo (Clifford Evans), who takes the woman home in order to take care of her. To his surprise, the girl was pregnant, and her child is finally born on Christmas Day, a day when according to an old legend, demons attempt to posses humans. Named Leon (Oliver Reed), the child becomes a young man, but the tragic circumstances of his conception and birth have put him under a devilish curse, making him to become a werewolf when the full moon shines over the sky.

Anthony Hinds does a very good job at writing this excellent werewolf story, as while his story lacks the lurid details of Endore's novel, he manages to keep the essence of the novel intact despite being really a loose adaptation. The most captivating element of "The Curse of the Werewolf", is the way it handles the tragedy of the curse, set as a irremediable dark fate that awaits for Leon as a brutal change that eventually he will have to make. Leon suffers from a "disease" he didn't asked for, that he simply was born with it, and Hinds plays with that tragedy without excessive melodrama, almost making the movie a horror version of a Greek tragedy. Hinds' way to introduce his audience to Leon's story may be excessively slow (the entire first third dedicated to the events previous to Leon's birth), but in the end it really pays off as one can't help but feel captivated by the epic tale of this cursed man.

By the early 60s and after making influential horror films like "The Curse of Frankenstein" (1957) and "The Brides of Dracula" (1960), director Terence Fisher was still regarded as Hammer's best director, and his remarkable work in "The Curse of the Werewolf" is definitely on par with the previous classics he had made at that point. Fisher gives a great used to the lavish sets built and makes the movie one of his most beautiful looking films, and despite the budget constrains, he creates a Gothic atmosphere of impeding doom that suits perfectly Hinds' story. Speaking of his take on the script, this is probably the film that better represents Fisher's obsession with the dual nature of evil, and he takes full advantage of his character's dilemma to create powerful scenes of suspense, drama, and even eroticism.

Oliver Reed is simply perfect as Leon, as his natural charm and powerful presence really enhance his character's beastly nature. It's a great performance as a man who tries to be good despite having a beast inside. While Reed is without a doubt the star, the highlight of the movie is Clifford Evans, whose performance as Leon's uncle, Don Alfredo, is heartbreaking in its delivery, and certainly brings back good memories of Claude Rains in "The Wolf Man" (1941). As many have pointed out, Catherine Feller is probably the weakest link in the cast, although this doesn't mean she gives a bad performance, but her presence is easily overshadowed by her peers. Hira Talfrey and John Gabriel make an excellent job in the supporting roles of the film, giving the film a heart and completing the main cast of the movie.

"The Curse of the Werewolf" is one of Hammer's most enjoyable movies, combining perfectly period drama with horror, and giving the movie the classic "Hammer look" with brilliant colors and haunting atmospheres. However, it's also safe to say that the movie suffers from some quibbles that lessen the film's power. The main flaw, in my opinion, is the fact that the movie is too short for the kind of epic story the script attempts to narrate; it starts very nicely, slowly developing the tragic events but some scenes feel a bit too rushed. Certainly the budgetary constrains had a hand in this, and it's a shame that the flow of the story is not constant as it does feel like a lot was missing. Modern viewers may not be used to Roy Ashton's work of make-up, but I found it very appropriate and remarkably well done.

Along with classics like "The Wolf Man" and "An American Werewolf in London", this movie easily ranks as one of the most enjoyable horror stories about werewolves ever told. The way it conveys the tragedy of the curse and Leon's attempts to control it make the movie an excellent film, not only within the horror genre, but in cinema in general. Watching the resulting product, it's safe to say that the botched deal that prompted Hinds to write this movie was one of the best happy accidents ever. 9/10
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Hammer's sole werewolf movie is a delight
Leofwine_draca31 May 2016
Hammer was quick to plunder the Universal vaults in their search for new horror successes. Dracula, The Mummy and Frankenstein had all been done, and it seemed only natural to film a lycanthropic story, following on from the success of Universal's THE WOLF-MAN. Happily enough, their (strangely) sole werewolf offering is a huge success, offering a tragic love story and horrific elements in equal amount.

While the Spanish setting eliminates any Gothic visuals, CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF more than makes up for this in the intriguing werewolf story, which spans a whole twenty years, and a sense of gloom and doom as you just know that Leon is going to come unstuck. Also, the introduction of a young, handsome, charismatic actor in the form of Oliver Reed, meant that audiences could really sympathise with the character of Leon, after all lycanthropy is merely an illness, and can anyone be to blame for illnesses which afflict them? This is one of the films that paved the way for Reed's later stardom, he would go on to star in a range of other varied horror flicks like THE BROOD and THE DEVILS. All the classic folklore concerning werewolves is in this film, along with a good score and lavish costumes. The acting is all above par and there are small roles for Peter Sallis, Warren Mitchell, and Michael Ripper, who plays his tiny role of the town drunk with relish.

CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF also has some excellent special effects. Stop motion animation is used to show hair growing on Leon's palms, while Roy Ashton's werewolf makeup is fantastic and groundbreaking, much as the transformation in AN American WEREWOLF IN London was twenty years later. To top this all off, the finale is something of a throwback to classic films like Chaney's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and a satisfying conclusion to this epic romantic horror. CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF is yet another classic from Hammer's heyday, a tragic, inventive story which can be watched time and time again. This is a fairytale epic of a werewolf film.
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Slow paced but absorbing Hammer horror
andrewbanks11 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
'The Curse of the Werewolf' was I think the only werewolf movie made by Hammer Film Productions. The main drawback is the slow pace of the script, written by producer Anthony Hinds using the pen name of John Elder. We have to sit through almost half an hour of screen time before we even get to the birth of Leon, the main character, and almost an hour passes before we see some real werewolf action.

However, the film does have a lot of good points. Oliver Reed brings a brooding intensity to the role of Leon, and Clifford Evans is very good as Alfredo, Leon's adopted father. There are several well handled sequences, such as the werewolf attacks and the final chase scene. The film's director, Terence Fisher, tended to place great stress on the romantic subplots of his Hammer films around the time this movie was made, as in 'The Gorgon' (1964) and 'Frankenstein created woman' (1967). It also the case here with quite a lot of screen time given to the doomed romance between Leon (Reed) and Cristina, played by the sympathetic and attractive Catherine Feller.

As usual with a Hammer film, the movie boasts good production values, thanks to the excellent set designs of the redoubtable Bernard Robinson, and the cinematography skills of the talented Arthur Grant. All in all, this is not the best film made by Hammer, but it is still a good example of their work.
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A classic - very dramatic and poignant
teelbee2 December 2002
A very poignant portrayal of a tragic and undeserved fate. Not your average horror movie, by any means. This is a well-done production that focuses on the human tragedy and heartbreak of the gentle boy who, to his horror, grows up to become a werewolf.

If you want mindless gore for the sake of gore, this is not the movie for you - it's a tragic drama. This is a skillful retelling of an ancient tale. The horror is not in it's bloodshed, but in the terrible fate of an innocent boy's infection with "the curse of the werewolf". His bittersweet romance with Christina, with it's promise of redemption, punctuates the cruelty of his curse.

The film is very well paced with lots of high drama underscored by great characterization and acting through out. Oliver Reed's performance as Leon, the gentle young man cursed with the savagery of a werewolf, is powerful and compelling. Clifford Evan's gives a strong performance as Don Corledo, Leon's stepfather.

It's a classic movie, and a better example of this genre would be hard to find.
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Ho ho-howwwoooooooooooooo!
TheFinalAlias24 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"Curse of the Werewolf" is a film steeped in uncertainty. Sometimes referred to as a wasted opportunity, sometimes considered the greatest werewolf movie of all time, "Curse" isn't really either, and although a well-made film, it isn't very good. But what I am certain of is that it's my favorite Christmas movie of all time!!!

Don Alfredo Corledo(Clifford Evans)is apparently an omniscient immortal, as he begins the film(after the creepy opening credits showing the werewolf's crying eyes)by informing us(through past-tense voice-over)of events he could not possibly have witnessed or found out about and that he states happened "200 years ago", when by the time we meet him during those events, he is clearly a middle-aged man. Oh well, the film starts with the ringing of a church bell in a small Spanish village, where a handsome but scruffy beggar(Richard Wordsworth)inquires why the bell is ringing even though it's not a Sunday. After several curt dismissals, he finds that the local Marquis has just gotten married to a village girl(and left the village impoverished by raising taxes to fund the wedding), and from what we can tell, it apparently wasn't a marriage she was willing to enter into. A sarcastic barfly tricks our rag-clad hero into going to beg the Marquis for food. And as you may have gathered, the Marquis isn't exactly a charitable man....

The Marquis(Anthony Dawson, from "Dial "M" for Murder") is a sadistic creep who loves abusing his underlings, and he makes no exceptions with the beggar, making him act like a dog and dance. After the Beggar makes a suggestive comment, he ends up being locked in a dungeon where he gradually loses his grip on reality(and his good looks too). Meanwhile, the Marquis, now suffering from leprosy and more occupied with creating houses of cards than the outside world, tries to rape a busty mute servant girl(Yvonne Romaine, who effectively uses facial expressions to emote for a role that requires no talent)who bites him. He has her thrown in the same dungeon as the beggar, who rapes her anyway. The beggar dies, and the girl escapes after killing the Marquis. She tries to drown herself, but is rescued by Don Alfredo and brought to his home, where she is taken care of by his maid, Teresa. The girl dies giving birth on Christmas eve, but because widdle baby Jeebus has some serious birthday attention issues("For an unwanted child to be born on Christmas is an insult to heaven!" says Teresa), the child, Leon, is cursed.....

I'd like to point out that this has all happened in the first 26 minutes.

Following some boring, long-winded exposition involving an explanation for Leon's affliction, a comedic subplot involving the goat-herder's rivalry with the night watchman(two of the most British sounding 'Spaniards' I've ever heard!), and some truly awful overacting(Teresa's line "I just mean--he didn't come through here!!" gets my medal as the most meaningless line ever uttered with such over-the-top conviction) balanced with some very good acting(John Gabriel gives a wonderful, naturalistic performance as a kindly priest), scenes intended to be frightening that will give rise to all kinds of lewd jokes(check out the kid's hairy palms), we finally meet the adult Leon(Oliver Reed) who sets off to work at a local vineyard and falls in love with the owner's daughter Cristina(Catherine Feller) and the story last.

Its' pretty much just a retread of "Romeo & Juliet' with elements of the 1941 universal film thrown in. The difference being that there we got to know and like Lon Chaney Jr's character. Here, we find out NOTHING about Leon, and what we do find out pretty much makes him come off as a jerk, yelling at Cristina and shaking her, even before he finds out that he's a werewolf and needs a woman's love to cure him. Cristina pretty much sees that Leon is little different from her controlling dad and obnoxious fiancée, but decides to give him a shot anyway(what girl could resist a young Ollie Reed?) Leon refuses to show some simple patience and instead goes to a brothel with his Benny Hill-like coworker Jose. Apparently being in a 'sinful' atmosphere awakens the beast in Leon, and he becomes a werewolf, Don Alfredo finds out, and you can guess the rest....

Oliver Reed is one of my favorite actors, but he doesn't get to do much here. We see or hear so little of Leon, and what we do makes him come off as an impatient jerk who is hard to pity. He does however, pull off the transformation scenes incredibly well, and as the werewolf, he's simply one of the coolest-looking monsters of all time. Larry Talbot couldn't escape a bear trap, Leon can rip a rip an iron prison cell down and chuck doors and bales of hay at people! The rest of the cast is competent, Clifford Evans is obviously disinterested, Hira Talfrey overacts badly as Teresa, and although she does a good job as Leon's mute mother, Yvonne Romaine has little screen time(despite prominent billing and poster art depicting her as Leon's love-interest!). Martin Matthews provides good comedy relief as Jose. Catherine Feller isn't believable as an object of affection for two handsome men, but she succeeds at evoking sympathy, and is the film's most pitiable character. The real standouts however, are Wordsworth and Dawson as the Beggar & Marquis. Both actors deserved better careers.

"Curse' isn't great, despite nice sets and cinematography, but it's great to pop in at Christmas time! Where else can you see a movie about Christmas with cruelty to the homeless, food wasting, leprotic lechers, a mute woman being raped, werewolves, drunk guys named Jose who kiss paper-cutouts, and 'Spaniards' who talk like Monty Python extras?
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