Friday, October 08, 2010

“I’d say it was highly unusual. A man being attacked by a werewolf in a London park.”

1946 brought in a different wolf-themed horror movie from Universal. Instead of the familiar faces of Lon Chaney Jr. or Bela Lugosi, She-Wolf of London is completely unrelated to any of the other Universal Horror films and doesn’t figure into loosely connected continuity of them. Is this a good thing? Maybe. The film does tease the idea of a female werewolf, and Jack Pierce did do the makeup for the film, so this might be another forgotten gem.

Phyllis Allenby (June Lockhart) is an heiress with a problem. While on the one hand she’s engaged to marry Barry Lanfield (Don Porter), the park near her London home becomes the site for a series of grisly murders. Phyllis fears the Allenby Curse running through her blood is to blame for her becoming a werewolf and stalking the night. Her aunt living with her, Martha Winthrop (Sara Haden) tries to keep her in bed and feeds into her werewolf delusions by denying them all the time (thanks, reverse psychology!). Meanwhile, Martha’s daughter, the less wealthy Carol Winthrop (Jan Wiley) is told not to see her own fiancée and seems to also disappear into the night.

Scotland Yard sends detectives into the park to investigate and the populace are murmuring rumors about werewolves.

Directed by Jean Yarbrough, the visual style is competent but nothing particularly interesting. There are long stretches of not a whole lot happening and to be honest, there are none of the visual or makeup effects you would expect from a monster movie.

Dwight V. Babcock on Story and George Bricker on Screenplay credits. The plot I listed above is not a bad idea on paper, but the execution did not deliver. While the acting isn’t bad, the characters are pretty flat and its obvious who the villain is from very early on. There’s also a “twist” that is the equivalent of monster movie blue balls that I’ll spoil only because the movie isn’t very good. There is no werewolf, its all just a scheme to drive Phyllis out of her mind so that someone else can inherit her money. That’s it. Again, sounds good on paper, but when the execution is uninspired and you end up with a non-werewolf movie in a Wolf Man boxed set, that lowers my esteem of the movie pretty low.

An uncredited William Lava on score. The music is fine in that standard 40’s style.

Well, its only 61 minutes, so She-Wolf of London has that going for it. Other than that, this is really not recommended. It doesn’t have werewolves, it doesn’t have good characters or memorable dialogue and its really boring most of the time. Kind of interesting but largely predictable, this is sadly one of the lesser Universal Horror films.

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