Curse of the Werewolf is a 1961 film from Terence Fisher. Surprisingly, this is the only werewolf movie produced in the entire run of Hammer Horror films. Based on the book The Werewolf Of Paris by Guy Endore, the movie changes the setting to Spain. Notable for the heavy tones of melodrama and emotional conflict.
Born on Christmas day, Leon (Oliver Reed) is the child of a poor serving girl raped by a mad beggar (who himself was driven insane by a nobleman's cruelty). As he grows up, it appears that Leon inherited a terrible curse from the tragic circumstances of his conception, and only true love may be able to save him.
The film contains examples of these tropes:
- Aristocrats Are Evil: The root of the curse is the Marquis' needless cruelty.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Though more tame than most of Hammer's other movies from the period.
- Chekhov's Gun: The silver bullet.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: The film was adapted into comci book form in the pages of The House of Hammer, issue 10.
- Disposable Sex Worker: Leon stops by a brothel on the night of the full moon. This goes about as well as you would expect.
- Downer Ending: Well, it's a werewolf movie, what do you think happens at the end?
- Happily Adopted: Leon is actually quite happy with his "Aunt" and "Uncle." His problems lie with his natural parents...
- Hollywood Darkness: Noticeable "Day For Night" filters employed.
- Large Ham: Oliver Reed.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: These Spaniards all seem to speak the Queen's Spanish.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: As the title suggest, Leon becomes a werewolf because of a vaguely defined curse arising from the tragedy and cruelty of his conception. That he was born on Christmas also plays into it, which actually was a way in mythology that people thought one could be born a werewolf. The moon doesn't always trigger a transformation; feelings like rage, hatred, or stress can trigger it. Conversely, emotions like happiness, kindness, and most importantly, love can stop a transformation and possibly even cure a werewolf.
- The Power of Love: The only thing that can cure a werewolf.
- The Queen's Spanish.
- Race Lift: The book was set in France but this adaptation is set in Spain, making most of the character's dark-skinned Spaniards.
- Rape as Drama: Leon is conceived when the mad beggar rapes the serving girl. The Marquis also tries to force himself on her.
- Suicide by Cop: Attempted. Leon confesses to the murders and begs to be executed before he kills again.
- Torches and Pitchforks: In the end the werewolf is pursued by an angry mob in a scene very reminiscent of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.