La lupa mannara (1976)
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Of course, DiSivestri WAS pretty good at sexploitation, and he always had a very decent female cast. In his earlier movies he worked with a whole bevy of Euro-beauties (Anita Strindberg, Jenny Tamburi, Paola Senatore, Krista Nell, Magda Konopfka, Orchidea DiSantis, ad infinitum). Here he's reduced to the lovely Dagmar Lassander, who has probably the longest and most gratuitous sex scene of her career, and the lead, the much more obscure Anik Borel, who was cast because DiSivestri, according to his DVD commentary, thought "she looked like a wolf". She is kind of weird looking I guess, but her body is pretty impressive and you get to see a whole lot of it here. (Interestingly, her only other notable screen credit is in "Weekend with the Babysitter" a very 70's and very American sexploitation film directed by Tom "Billy Jack" McLoughlin). This movie is certainly not for everybody, but it works for me
Frequent disrobing by almost all of the female cast and a plethora of gory murders will appeal to some audiences, the line between mainstream feature film and sado-porn is sometimes teased, but never fully crossed. Dagmar Lassander has a largely extraneous and minor role, most of which is a sex scene, while Frederick Stafford does an amiable job as the inspector with an ever-burgeoning mountain of corpses, courtesy of our fair maiden Borel. For her part, Borel is intense and obviously committed to her performance, but the film's erratic narrative fails to focus and consequently, her role is shallow and uninvolving.
Director Silvestro seems uncertain whether he's making a werewolf movie, attempting a mental health statement, a rape and revenge flick, or just a softcore trip with apparently divergent themes awkwardly woven into the tale that seems at times never-ending (I saw an uncut 100 minute version which despite all the climaxing throughout the movie, fails to deliver one at the film's sunset). Little suspense, just buckets of gore, nudity, self flagellation, various sexual acts and grade A profanity to pass the time. Bring it on.
Don't get me wrong, it's still overall a bad movie, but as bad movies go, it's a shade more intelligent than the REALLY horrible tripe like Mesa of Lost Women and Robot Monster.
The dubbing is bad, but maybe deliberately so; Leone didn't have dialog so bad that it made the voice-over actors cringe as they said some of their lines. And sometimes the director and crew get creative with blood and various colors: there's a shot when Daniella, after attacking a nurse whom she's snuck into the car with, gets out of the now crashed vehicle, and the first shot seen looks as though there's blood everywhere, though it's mostly just the seats and a jacket. For a moment or two, Werewolf Woman carries artistry (not to mention during a particularly steamy sex scene as Daniella watches with hungry, jealous eyes of a friend getting it on with a friend).
When all is said and done, Werewolf Woman does teeter between a hot and exciting half-farce half-serious/pretentious drama on a woman's descent into madness and murder, and it doesn't amount to any kind of 'statement' except that, um, crazy women with a disease passed down through the generations can't be stomped out so all men with penises have to pay. Yeah, that's it. But even with the laughs that are had- including a bit when Daniella is in the hospital bed and an over-affectionate nymph comes in trying to have her way with the taut were-woman that probably inspired the P**** Wagon scene in Kill Bill 1- it's not a badly made film at all, which adds to the appeal.
It's not some stupid movie put together in very cheap soft-core ways. If there is any strength to the best sex scenes it's that they seem actually erotic and not as some tedious pornographic exercise ala Porno Holocaust. And, relative to other cheesy horror flicks of the 70s (the *Italian* horror 70s), Annik Borel isn't too shabby an actress, with a quality reminiscent of Sondra Locke from Clint Eastwood's films (only, perhaps, a better actress!) She adds just that little bit of fun and danger to a part that needs it to sustain its tone wavering between exploitation and sincere horror.
So watch it under a full-moon, make sure you're tied to the bed (without any crazies around to untie the knots), and keep all sexual organs on stand-by- Werewolf Woman is a bite!
It's starts out with a make-up job that has to be seen to be believed (get a load of the stuck-on fur and black nipples on the were-woman) and get's progressively worse.
It's your standard Italian 70's exploitation fare with the usual contents of rape, gore and standard soft-core lesbian scenes and editing that's been done with a meat-cleaver. If MST3K ever do adult versions of their show, I'd recommend this one.
The "werewolf woman" in question, was apparently some chick that was raped who think she is a werewolf based on the fact that one of her previous ancestor was. Her rape experience makes her prey on men as a way of dealing with her experiences. The rest is a bunch of Italian sexploit nonsense that takes itself awfully seriously for such a cheezy-ass film...
Don't expect a masterpiece with this one. It pretty much looks visually like every other Italian sexploit film out there, and the "werewolf" angle is highly over-rated, as there is no real werewolf action to be had in this one other than the first five minutes or so. If you are new to Italian sexploit films, or have exhausted your choices and are a genre-lover, then check this one out...otherwise - it ain't bringin' nothing' new to the table...6/10
The film is made up of scenes of sex and gore, which are padded out with extremely dull talking sequences in which various characters mull over the recent events. These scenes are probably there to forward the plot and build characters; but they really don't do that, and succeed only in turning what could have been a passable exploitation romp into an extremely underwhelming film. It would seem that the director was more interested in style and atmosphere than the plot, and this is shown by the fact that the film looks and sounds nice. The sex scenes are often overlong and not very erotic, but the gore works well. The premise is ripe for giving way to a very sexy slice of exploitation, as there's plenty of naked women, and the fact that the central character has a werewolf origin means that there could be plenty of erotica; but this isn't capitalised on, and while I can stomach huge doses of bad acting and poorly done plot lines, I really can't stand watching films and being bored. Overall, I wouldn't even recommend this film to big exploitation fans. There's plenty of better stuff than this out there, and while the title may sound intriguing - the film isn't.
Annik Borel was exemplary as the ill-fated protagonist Daniela, and takes a few lessons from Linda Blair's portrayal of the possessed in 'The Exorcist' for whenever she loses control of her inhibitions and resorts to her more animalistic urges. Kudos to the filmmakers for bringing psychological issues and the effects of sexual abuse and rape to the forefront, even if it's for an 'exploitation' film.
Yes, the story arc is predictable (though suspense-fully carried out), there is gratuitous sex and nudity at every conceivable moment (and a lot of inconceivable ones!), and you get that tired lie 'this is a true story--only the names have been changed', but it's as if you would think those are bad things. It was a great 79 minutes I will always fondly remember--unless I get Altzheimer's disease or something. Highly recommended to anyone who loves 70's horror movies, softcore porn, or exploitation films in general. 70's Italian movies aren't so bad.
Daniella (Annik Borel) has strange dreams about a dancing around naked in the night before turning into a Werewolf Woman. Since she was a raped as a girl, Daniella is afraid of men. Then, when her sister (cult siren Dagmar Lassander) comes to visit with her husband, Daniella suddenly feels attracted to the husband and subsequently turns into a Werewolf Woman herself... or something. The storyline really doesn't make the slightest sense, which makes the film a lot of fun to watch throughout the first half. The leading character Daniella is some schizophrenic mixture of frigid hysteric and lusty nymphomaniac, who occasionally turns into a werewolf woman. Director Di Silvestri chose to make up for the plot-holes with a lot of of female nudity, which works fine for me. There are also some pretty well-done gore moments. The film is never even slightly suspenseful or creepy, but it is very entertaining in the beginning. Also, there are no attempts to hide that this is a slice of sleaze, the camera often does close-ups on the Miss Borel's private parts for the simple heck of it. I'm not complaining. Then, for some reason, Di Silvestri chose to make the film longer by completely changing the direction in which it was going. While Daniella is, at first, a typical werewolf, who cannot help but follow the urges of her curse, this suddenly changes when she meets a guy (Howard Ross, who was in Fernando Di Leo's "Il Boss" of 1973). Suddenly, she goes back to normal again, and the subsequent part of the film does not at all go in hand with the first half. It gets pretty damn boring after a while; all things considered, it probably would have been better for this 99 minute film to be only 70 minutes long. At the end, they even want to make us believe that the absurd story (if one can call it that) is based on true events. "Werewolf Woman" has some redeeming qualities; my fellow Italo-Horror fans can give it a try. However, if you wanna watch Italian Horror/Exploitation cinema from the 70s, there are hundreds of films that you should see before seeing this one.
From here on in it doesn't get much better. Minutes are wasted as the scenery chewing male actors waffle on about Daniela and her condition or something (I can't remember, but the dialogue is so bad if you don't laugh at it you'll cry).
The funny thing is Daniela isn't even a werewolf, she's a psycho who goes mental whenever there is a man around (understandable, as she was raped as a child) so she thinks she becomes a werewolf like her ancestor (the opening scene). She can't help but tear out the throat of every man she meets, and she only wants to be loved! Things start looking up for Daniela as she meets and falls in love with a buff stuntman who doesn't trigger her 'episodes'. Check out the montage here, one of the cheesiest you'll ever see (laughing and hugging after diving headfirst through a window).
Daniela's luck doesn't hold out as the film takes a brutal turn, she is suddenly viciously beaten and raped by a group of thugs who kill the stuntman. Reminiscent of "I spit on your grave", Daniela extracts bloody vengeance on her rapists.
This is 100 minutes of my life I will never get back. But hey, that's the game you play when you're a film geek.
Daniela (played by Annik Borel) has a dream where she turns into a werewolf and gets chased by some villagers, resulting in one particular village getting his face split open in a rather nasty manner. But, a dream is a dream, and although Daniela's is having a spot of the old brain trouble following a rape when she was younger, her father would rather just get on with life. After all, they stay in relative isolation in a villa in Italy, and Daniela seems happy enough, although the prospect of her sister visiting with her husband doesn't please her that well. Oh, and she's also become obsessed with a picture of a distant relative and a curse that her family always end up turning into werewolves.
Her sister is played by Dagmar Lassander, and it seems that Dagmar is a lot fonder of her sister than the other way round. Also, Daniela spends most of the conversation just staring out at the moon, but later gets it together to go spy on Dagmar and her husband getting some (and strangely, Dagmar isn't a real redhead, I now know...). After spoiling it for them, Daniela is followed outside by Dagmar's husband, whom she comes onto and of course bites the throat out of. Sisters, eh? It's all written off as a dog attack but just to make sure Daniela is sent to a loony bin anyway. I forgot to mention that Dagmar's husband looked like that guy from Daniela's dream and her relative from the picture came to visit her in a vision, but attention to detail is not my strong point. Neither is being coherent.
Daniela ends up getting strapped to a bed for her own good but as this is an Italian film that just gives someone else the opportunity to feel her up, but luckily Daniela is tooled up with a scalpel and the next thing you know someone's dead, Daniela's escaped, and as an added bonus she seriously assaults a doctor. Time to start a new life, Daniela! Well, after you kill that guy that tries to rape you.
This is where Howard Ross comes in and he's a good guy AND a stunt man! This leads to a bizarre romance/stunt montage while Daniela realises that not all men are jerks, just 99% of them as she finds out when a bunch of guys turn up and rape her and kill Howard Ross. Is there any plot left that I haven't described in detail? A little bit I guess.
I've never been a big fan of rape in films, and the last three films I've watched from Italy in 1976 have all featured it, so that's no good. On the other hand, I think the director here is trying to say something or other about female power as Daniela just straight up murders every man who does her a wrong, usually powered by the moon. Or periods? I don't know. There is an absolute blizzard of nakedness in this film but none of it erotic. It seems to be there to add to the animalistic tendencies of Daniela. I had no idea what to expect from this film and despite the dodgy subject matter stands out as quite an original film. Not a very comfortable one, however.
It should come as no surprise that Quentin Tarantino was a champion of this film, allegedly even screening it at a film festival before he had even watched it. That is pretty bizarre. But it has all the marks of the Italian exploitation film he seems to appreciate.
Raro Video picked this one out and made it look pretty darn good for a movie few had probably heard of. They seem to focus more on Italian realism ("Adua and Her Friends") than Italian horror, but anyone who is willing to put out a special edition of such a strange film is cool by me.
While it's technical aspects might not impress everyone, it's violent and outrageous story might thrill genre fans who are new to this film. Silvestro has taken a story of revenge and added the werewolf aspect to it, although we barely get a glimpse of this monster anywhere in the film. Silvestro instead relied on the monstrous transformation to take on a psychological value rather than the physical change, and it works quite well here. And no, this particular film does not have a woman of the S.S. variety, but the "She-Wolf' aspect is here to stay, although Silvestro has ventured into the nazi territory before with his grindhouse resume. And since this is indeed an over-the-top grindhouse movie, none of it is taken very seriously.
The story follows Daniella Neseri (Annik Borel), who has had a very rough time growing up. She has been raped and abused through most of her life, by various people. This has caused her to turn into a literal monster who takes revenge on her attackers. I think Silvestro was exploring our animal instincts into our deep dark psyches when we are threatened and attacked. Daniella meets a very nice man later on in life, and she seems to have recovered from her past troubles.
However, someone brutally rapes her again, undoing all the work she has done to keep a peaceful and happy life. And the beast returns with a mighty vengeance to confront her attackers. Actress Annik Borel is not only nude through most of the film, but delivers a great performance of one woman who is helpless and timid, but switches on the vengeful animal traits flawlessly. It becomes a little redundant at times, but Silvestro wants to remind us of our primal animal and naturalistic instincts when threatened with fear.
A background story of how this werewolf business might be a passed on from generation through generation is solid as well, and if you've never seen a naked female werewolf, then the image of Borel in full werewolf makeup will leave a lasting impression.
Even though its title and poster art make it sound like one of a thousand other supernatural thrillers, Werewolf Woman is closer to a psychological thriller. A young woman who was raped as a child becomes convinced she is a werewolf after learning of an ancestor who was killed for supposedly being one. Under the influence of her delusion, she embarks on a killing spree directed at men.
Many will see this film's approach as just a pretentious way of disguising the film's soft core porn heart. The level of nudity and sexuality in the film brings it closer to an X than an R, with large amounts of full frontal female nudity, and semi-graphic depictions of oral sex and masturbation. Nevertheless, whether it is a facade or not, the film's method is unique, and makes it a much more interesting watch.
Rino Di Silvestro's "La lupa mannara" begins with full frontal, writhing, moaning dance by shapely blonde Annik Borel, who (as Daniella Neseri) mistakenly believes she is a werewolf. The hottest part is when the camera catches background fire between her legs. The opening "flashback" reveals her hairy ancestor was (probably) a lycanthropic creature. Ms. Borel is, unfortunately, not a werewolf; she is merely a very strong lunatic.
As a film, "Werewolf Woman" (in English) would have been better if Borel's character really was a female werewolf; with her sexual victimization a great bit of characterization. But, as far as 1970s skin and blood flicks go, this one is hard to beat. Bouncy Borel is either nude or sexily clad throughout the film, which features a fair amount of gratuitous gore. Dazzling Dagmar Lassander (as Elena) and hunky Howard Ross (as Luca) are good supporting players.
**** La lupa mannara (3/18/76) Rino Di Silvestro ~ Annik Borel, Howard Ross, Dagmar Lassander