Movie Review

The Curse of the Werewolf

He had but one body - yet lived with two souls!
The Curse of the Werewolf Movie Poster

US Release Date: 06-07-1961

Directed by: Terence Fisher


  • Clifford Evans
  • Don Alfredo Corledo
  • Oliver Reed
  • Leon Corledo
  • Yvonne Romain
  • Servant girl
  • Catherine Feller
  • Cristina
  • Anthony Dawson
  • Marques Siniestro
  • Richard Wordsworth
  • Beggar
  • Hira Talfrey
  • Teresa
  • Justin Walters
  • Young Leon
  • Warren Mitchell
  • Pepe Valiente
  • Anne Blake
  • Rosa Valiente
  • George Woodbridge
  • Dominique the goat herder
  • Desmond Llewelyn
  • 1st Footman
Reviewed on: January 13th, 2015
Oliver Reed as the werewolf in The Curse of the Werewolf.

Oliver Reed as the werewolf in The Curse of the Werewolf.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s London based studio Hammer Films made a series of classic horror movies that reinvigorated the genre. They took the classic monsters from those 1930s/40s Universal horror pictures and updated them for the new generation; adding color, widescreen, new origin stories, and a more adult level of blood, gore and sexuality. After having already rebooted Dracula and Frankenstein, they made The Curse of the Werewolf in 1961. Oliver Reed made his motion picture debut as the titular monster.

Rather than simply doing a remake of 1940's The Wolf Man, Hammer Films loosely based this movie on Guy Endore's novel The Werewolf of Paris – changing the setting to 18th Century Spain. The story begins with a beggar attending the wedding reception of an evil Marques. He is imprisoned and treated as a dog. As the years pass he becomes more and more beast-like. His only contact with the outside world is through his jailor, and his jailor's mute -but beautiful- daughter. When the mute girl refuses the advances of the aging Marques, she is thrown into the dungeon with the beggar. He rapes her before dying.

After a series of horrible events, the mute girl escapes and nearly dies but is discovered in the nick of time by a kindly gentleman named Don Alfredo Corledo. He takes her home and she gives birth to a baby boy but dies in the process. Her offspring is named Leon, and he's raised by Don Alfredo and his housekeeper, Teresa.

Several years pass until one day some local sheep are found with their throats ripped out. The hunt is on for a wolf. Eventually Don Alfredo realizes the truth. That his young ward is responsible. In a scene that shocked audiences at the time, the young boy talks of having dreams where he is drinking the warm blood from animals' throats. Bars are installed in his bedroom windows and eventually the boy is able to overcome his unnatural desires. He grows to manhood without further incident. Oliver Reed makes his first appearance as the grown-up Leon and the story heads for its gruesome conclusion.

In terms of adult content and gore The Curse of the Werewolf was far more graphic than earlier American horror films had been. There is plenty of blood and sex. In addition to the rape of the mute girl by the beast-like beggar, Leon later visits a brothel where his sexual desire brings forth his inner werewolf. He goes on a murderous rampage. The one aspect of the movie that seems horribly dated is his method of killing. Like in the old Universal movies, the werewolf strangles his victims rather than ripping them apart with his claws.

Some might complain at the lack of screentime given the monster but I think it was a brilliant decision not to show him until the climactic scene. It is only at the end of the movie that we see his transformation into the beast. The final 15 minutes are horrifically entertaining. Oliver Reed is great as the tortured Leon, whose one chance at a normal life is through the love of a pure woman.

Sure it's all very tame and a bit campy to modern audiences but for anyone who loves classic horror films The Curse of the Werewolf is a must see.

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