Posted by Danny at 10:11 PMLabels: Look What Danny Watched, Project Horror
Day 4, and we reach a movie that I not only have never seen before, but that I know absolutely nothing about. Well, that's not entirely true. I assumed that Werewolf of London would have a werewolf and that he would be in London, so I wasn't entirely spoiler-free. Really, I saw that this was available on Netflix instant streaming and removed another movie from my list to put this one in its place for no reason other than this:
This is timely, because I just had a haircut yesterday. Like the werewolf drinking a pina colada outside of Trader Vic's, my hair is... Perfect. Also, if there's one thing that movies like Pink Cadillac and Love Don't Cost a Thing have taught me, it's that movies that share titles with songs are awesome.
Werewolf films are hard to pull off. Vampires are easy. Take an attractive lead character, add fangs, boom. With werewolves, if you opt to make the monster look more on the human side, then you run the risk of it looking like a ridiculous fuzzy person. If you make it look more animal, then you lose the expressiveness of the person beneath. Add to that the fairly primitive make-up effects available when this movie was made, and it's impressive that it's as good as it is.
Plot summary - a botanist journeys to Tibet in search of a rare flower, and is bitten by a werewolf while he's there. Upon his return to London, he is approached by another botanist with an interest in the flower. The protagonist gradually learns that the blooms can provide a temporary antidote to lycanthropy, which is also why the other botanist wishes to obtain them. (Plot twist! The other botanist is the werewolf that bit him!)
To be honest, the story itself was just so-so. There's a side plot where the scientist's wife becomes reacquainted with an old love, and from the moment the guy comes onscreen, you know that he's only there to be wolf chow. When our hero takes to the streets for the first time as a wolf, he pauses first to put on a coat and hat. But there are some good little touches that still make it worth a watch. The early scenes in Tibet are very well shot, and there are some good comic relief characters. My favorite thing was the wolf make-up. This movie came out a few years before Lon Chaney's much better known The Wolfman, and the make-up in this isn't as good, but they did an interesting thing with it. Each time he transforms, he becomes a little more beastly than the time before, as though he's gradually becoming more and more of the wolf.
Nowhere near my favorite werewolf movie (that honor currently goes to Dog Soldiers), but fun if you're looking for a classic Universal Monsters picture and have Netflix streaming. I give it three silver bullets out of five.