It’s time to take another trip to the past for a Film Flashback! Woot! Today film feature is the 1961 classic The Curse of the Werewolf. This was Hammer Studios only feature-length werewolf film, and since Hammer is legendary, that means this film kicks ass. The curse of the werewolf tells the horrible tale of the unlucky Leon.
Lots of spoilers!
The Curse of the Werewolf is set in 18th Century Spain. A beggar (Richard Wordsworth) arrives in the village of Santa Vera to find the streets deserted due to the wedding of the Marques Siniestro. Since the townsfolks are broke, one man suggests that the beggar try his luck getting some money at the castle. The poor beggar decides to take him at his word.
The Marques Siniestro (Anthony Dawson) is a terrible man. So, when a servant (Desmond Llewellyn) opens the door to the beggar, he warns him to leave right away. However, the warning comes too late – the Marques has already seen the beggar and invites him in. When Siniestro teases the man, his bride gets upset, so he offers to buy the beggar for her as a pet and gives the man ten pesetas. But the cruelties don’t end there, Siniestro continues to torture the beggar for the rest of the night and eventually tosses him in the dungeon.
The beggar is forgotten and lives for fifteen years in his prison. His only human contact is with the jailer and his beautiful mute daughter (child: Loraine Carvana; adult: Yvonne Romain). Marques’ wife died and his friends deserted him, so he has become a recluse in his room. One day while the jailer’s daughter is cleaning in the Marques’ room, she refuses the old man’s advances and he has her thrown into the dungeon with the beggar. The beggar, driven insane by his long confinement, rapes her and then dies.
The mute girl is released the next day and sent back to the Marques. But she has armed herself with a knife and ends up killing the man. She flees the castle and spends months hiding in the forest living like an animal. She is later found half-drowned in a pond by Don Alfredo Corledo (Clifford Evans) who lives alone with his maid, Teresa (Hira Talfrey). Teresa nurses the girl back to health and tells Alfredo that the girl is pregnant. Teresa worries that the baby will be born on Christmas Day. She says that for an unwanted child to share his birthday with Jesus Christ “is an insult to heaven.” Of course, the baby is born on Christmas and the girl dies shortly afterwards. A baby Leon’s baptism, things get weird.
Alfredo and Teresa raise the young boy as their own, whom they named Leon (Justine Walters). Things go well at first, but eventually strange things begin to happen and we learn that Leon has been cursed as a werewolf. But no story would be complete without a little romance. The cursed Leon falls in love with Cristina (Catherine Feller) and as you can imagine, things don’t go well for the two of them. To find out what happens, you’ll have to watch the film.