Thursday, December 03, 2015

Werewolf Woman

Call me uncouth if you want, but any film that opens with a fully nude woman dancing maniacally inside a ring of fire? It has my attention.

Dimension released WEREWOLF WOMAN in the United States in 1976 as THE LEGEND OF THE WOLF WOMAN, and anyone looking for hearty portions of violence and sex is sure to be pleased with it.

French starlet Annik Borel, whose credits miraculously include both this and the sitcom THE ODD COUPLE, plays a dual role. She’s Daniela, a young woman emotionally damaged by a rape at age thirteen. She also plays her 18th century ancestor, the afore-mentioned nude dancer who was burned at the stake for being a werewolf. Daniela starts to believe she is also a werewolf with her first victim being her brother-in-law.

WEREWOLF WOMAN’s exploitation credentials, if you happened to walk into the movie late, are promptly validated in the scene where Daniela masturbates while spying on her sister Elena (Dagmar Lassander) and her brother-in-law Fabian having sex. Fabian follows Daniela outdoors, where she strips and seduces him before tearing his throat out with her teeth and letting his blood drip on her nude body. Director Rino di Silvestro (WOMEN IN CELL BLOCK 7) may have few credits, but he seems to have made them count (in a scene in which Daniela freaks out in her hospital bed, di Silvestro makes sure her gown flips up to reveal her pubic hair).

Despite the string of bodies Daniela leaves behind, the film works hard to put the audience on her side. After two more sexual assaults (!) and the murder of her stuntman boyfriend (who appears to live in a fake western town), the tone shifts from horror to rape-revenge. It’s hard not to feel sympathy for the increasingly feral Daniela as she tracks down her rapists and murders them. Frederick Stafford, the star of Hitchcock’s TOPAZ, must have wondered what his agent got him into as he indifferently plays the policeman on Daniela’s trail.

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