The month of horror continues! This week Matthew and I will be focusing on Directors. Today I’m getting into Wes Craven (more rape/revenge movies what is wrong with me wheeee!) and later in the week I’ll look at Joe Dante (because FUN). The posts may come a little later during the days this week though because…
I’m shooting a short film on Wednesday! Yes, this is happening. A completely last minute, crazy idea that my friend Stacee and I are putting together. So between script writing, casting, equipment wrangling, food getting, schedule making, and everything else… I’m a little busy for the next few days. I may honestly not be able to post on Wednesday. But don’t worry, I still have plenty of movie watching that will happen and by the end of the month I’ll have my own scary short to share with you all. This is happening. And I am a crazy person.
But back to my weekend of Hammer.
If you missed it yesterday, Matthew and I hosted our first Google+ Hangout! It was tons of fun and we talk about our week of remakes and get a little bit into the Hammer films. You can also read his Day 5 post on The Horror of Dracula and The Vampire Lovers.
To wrap up my Hammer weekend I watched The Curse of the Werewolf and it is well and truly official, I love Hammer Films.
The Curse of the Werewolf, 1961. Dir. Terence Fisher, Written by Anthony Hinds. Starring Clifford Evans, Oliver Reed, Catherine Feller.
I continued my weekend of Hammer yesterday with Terence Fisher’s The Curse of the Werewolf. I was going for a “Let’s cover all of the monsters” thing and I’m fairly happy with my decision. I’m still sad I didn’t manage to track down The Vampire Lover’s though. I’m jealous Matthew got to see it!
The Curse of the Werewolf follows both The Horror of Dracula and The Curse of Frankenstein. While I don’t think it quite lives up to those films, it does get rather slow in the middle, I still love it. And I found it to be a really interesting take on the werewolf legend, at least as far as film adaptations go.
In pretty much all of the other werewolf films I’ve seen, classic and contemporary, the hero turns into the monster after he (or she if we’re talking Ginger Snaps) has been bitten by another werewolf. I know my knowledge of werewolf films is a little shallow but from what I remember of the films I’ve seen, I can’t think of any other exceptions. Even in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oz becomes a werewolf after his baby cousin bites him.
Here though, that’s not the case! The story begins not with our hero but with a voiceover telling us a terrible backstory story. It’s a device used to great effect to give the film the feel of a fairytale or legend which contrasts nicely with the relative realism of the second half of the film. If this was just straight drama it probably wouldn’t work but because it’s a period piece gothic horror film it works brilliantly. The unreal nature of the horror set in the grounded world of the film makes the whole thing feel surreal and adds to the fear that we feel for these characters. The curse begins with evil actions by normal people, the horror stems directly from their actions rather than the bad luck of being bitten by another monster.
The plot of the film is probably its greatest weakness, the action wanders off in the middle and I felt like it failed to build the tragedy of the doomed lovers to the Shakespearean levels it easily could have reached. Otherwise though, two thumbs up. Oliver Reed is great as the poor bastard Leon, adopted as an infant by the man who rescued his dying mother. Reed is charming, attractive, and able to carry the emotions of the role quite well. I felt for this guy. I also loved Clifford Evans who plays Don Alfredo, the man who adopted Leon. Evans again carries the emotional arc of the character well.
What I find so interesting about these movies, especially this one and Curse of Frankenstein, is that the focus of the horror is placed so heavily on the characters involved. These are stories about the people facing horrific realities, not films solely about the monsters wreaking the havoc. Of course the climax of the films involves epic chases across rooftops but they have to give the monsters something to do somewhere, right?
Of course, I’m saving the best for last and here that is once again the make-up design. This is one good werewolf. The transformation scene isn’t at the level of An American Werewolf in London, but what is? It’s still pretty solid and I love the decision to keep the face of the best reminiscent of the face of the man. Because this story isn’t about a man who was bitten, it’s about a man who was born into this curse. And the horror of the story is in the war being fought within him. Will the soul of the man win out? Or will the demon he’s possessed by triumph in the end?
It’s said that love can save the Man’s soul but will he find that love in time? Will love alone ever be enough?
Oh the heavy questions our horror movies can inspire us to ask!
Now I’m a little sad my weekend of Hammer films is over. I need to watch more of these. My project for next year may involve trying to track them down! I highly recommend checking them out and the three I watched at least are available on Amazon streaming. Watch and enjoy!
Okay, now I’m off to finish up pre-production related activities and then get into my Wes Craven watching. Check back later!