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Werewolf Woman (1976)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/28/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/29/2014
Being a filmmaker in Italy during the 1970s must have been a blast,
especially when it came to horror films. The success of the giallo film has
bolstered the industry and the Italian's knack for ripping off American horror
films gave them a lot to work with. These films could combine the arthouse
aesthetics which were prevalent in European cinema with a very casual attitude
towards violence and sexual imagery. But, the most liberating part of being an
Italian filmmaker had to have been the fact that logic wasn't a necessity in
their movies. Attractive women and a sense of menace had to be there, which
plotholes and bizarre imagery were welcome as well. Nowhere is this more evident
than in the wild Werewolf Woman.
Werewolf Woman opens with an extended sequence in which Daniela (Annik Borel) envisions herself being hunted by an angry mob while she becomes a violent beast. We then learn from a conversation between Daniela's father, Count Neseri (Tino Carraro), and her doctor (Elio Zamuto), that Daniela has had a troubled past and that she's convinced that she's inherited a family curse. Soon, Daniela's sister, Elena (Dagmar Lassendar), returns home with her fiancť, Fabian (Osvaldo Ruggieri). Daniela finds herself attracted to Fabian, which leads to tragedy. This triggers Daniela's deep-seated issues, and it becomes apparent that she is actually dangerous. Will her father and sister be able to help her.
I've seen my share of Italian horror films and Werewolf Woman is certainly one of the wackiest. Writer/Director Rino Di Silvestro isn't sure what kind of movie he is making. With a title like Werewolf Woman, one would assume that this is a horror movie, but it really isn't. Now, it does contain some horror notions and there is a small amount of bloody violence, but that's not the primary focus. This plays more like a psychological thriller, as we wonder if Daniela is simply disturbed or something worse. There is also some drama with the tension between Daniela and Elena. In the third act, the movie suddenly becomes a romance, which then morphs into a revenge film. In addition, some of the movie plays like soft-core porn. If Di Silvestro's goal was to touch as many bases as possible, he has succeeded.
Up until this point, the way in which I've described Werewolf Woman may make it sound somewhat normal, but trust me, it's not. This becomes very apparent from the opening scene which involves Annik Borel doing a sultry dance which has absolutely nothing to do with the story. Then, we are treated to a transformation sequence in which...well, I'll let you see for yourself, but I'll just say that certain body parts look weird. Oh, did I mention that this dream sequence begins and ends with Daniela waking up. How does that work? We are next treated to a scene in which the psychiatrist spouts some outrageous mumbo-jumbo about Daniela's condition and lycanthropy which gets pretty sexist. Daniela has hallucinations which appear to exist simply to be weird, as they don't tie into anything else. Later on, Daniela is strapped to a bed, where she writhes and hisses in an obvious nod to The Exorcist. The romantic portion of the film mentioned above, reminded me of the date montage scene from The Naked Gun. Oh, and the movie deserves some sort of award for most useless nightgown ever.
If you haven't already guessed by now, Werewolf Woman is not for everyone. Much likeMurder Obsession, another release from Raro Video, Werewolf Woman is one of those movies which must be seen to be believed and connoisseurs of the weird will love it. Itís got sex, violence, insane dialogue, stuntman school and an incredibly abrupt ending. In fact, the only thing missing from this movie is a werewolf.
Werewolf Woman made me wonder if brown skirts were actually found to be stylish on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Raro Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. Youíve got to hand it to Raro, they do a great job with their transfers. Does this look like a nearly 40 year old movie? Sure it does, but we get a transfer which is sharp and clear, showing practically no distracting grain and no major defects from the source material. The image has a definite crispness to it, which lends it a nice amount of depth. The color look very good, especially the reds, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The Disc carries a LPCM 2.0 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant 1.9 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. We donít get any dynamic audio effects here, but the dialogue is always audible over the music and sound effects. There is no overt hissing or popping on the track.
The Werewolf Woman Blu-ray Disc contains only a handful of extras. "Video Interview with Rino di Silvestro" (19 minutes) allows the director to discuss Werewolf Woman. Listening to him talk about the plot explains why the dialogue was so loopy. He discusses the casting, the production, and his assertion that the movie was unique among Italian cinema. We are then treated to the English Trailer and the Italian Trailer for the film.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long