Tonight on MeTV - it's a hairy Hammer classic that we get constant requests for- Oliver Reed stars as the unfortunate recipient of the full moon malady- in the only wolf man tale from the British studio-"Curse of the Werewolf"!
This 1961 film opens in the past in Spain-where a confused beggar learns from the resentful citizens in a pub that the nasty nobleman who runs the town is getting married on this day. The beggar, not knowing the extent of this man's cruelty, thinks such a day might mean a show of charity- but- once at the nobleman’s estate, he is made fun of and treated inhumanly by the horrid marquis, making the poor man a human spectacle for he and his guests' entertainment. The marquis and his new bride are leaving when he's offended by a comment from the beggar, and has the stranger thrown into his dungeon- where, forgotten by the marquis, he remains for many years- with the only kindness in his life offered by the mute young daughter of the jailer.
As the years go by, the beggar,locked in his dungeon cell, descends into madness -as the jailer's daughter rises to beautiful womanhood. The aging marquis also notices this- but, having no concept that she is mute,tries to make her his next conquest- only to be rejected by the frightened woman. So, true to form, he has HER tossed into the beggar’s cell- where she cannot escape the crazed beggar's attack .
She somehow manages to escape the cell, barely surviving, and is rescued by a kind and sophisticated gentleman, Don Alfredo, who is stunned when his housekeeper casually mentions that it's lucky the woman didn't lose her unborn child! The pregnant servant girl is cared for in the household, but, as the hour of delivery approaches- the housekeeper's superstitions about an unwed mother's child arriving on Christmas creating negative supernatural effects bring worry- and Christmas brings the child. Don Alfredo generously rears the boy, as if he was his own son- but the boy, Leon, suffers through some odd circumstances- and then, reports of local livestock being attacked coincide with more of his "nightmares".
Leon grows into a handsome young man, supposedly outgrowing his "problems" and out to seek his own way in the world-finding employment and a friend employment in a vintner's wine bottling cellar- and noticing the lovely daughter of his employer. Leon dares not pursue her, for she is promised to a snooty young nobleman- and his co-worker suggests that they head out to a local nightspot to drink and dance and chase women who are NOT spoken for- but, when the full moon rises, Leon must face the curse he has been inherited- and fight to reverse it through the power of love!
This movie is dripping with the classic Hammer style- brilliant color, beautiful and bountiful women, and one of the most memorable werewolf make-up designs in horror history! As you watch, we'll give some background on that make-up, and on the cast, including Oliver Reed and the breath-taking Yvonne Romain! (One bit of information I wish we knew- if the story originally posed the idea that the beggar himself was a werewolf- or if the supposed Christmas curse is what brought on Leon's condition.)
"Curse of the Werewolf" will run at 10 pm eastern/pacific, 9 central, or check local listings for your area- and make sure you tune in early in the evening, as MeTV presents specially selected episodes of "Batman" and "Star Trek" in memory of Yvonne Craig, featured as Batgirl and a green space temptress- as a salute to this beloved actress who passed away this past week.
By the way, many thanks to the people who loaded the alleys of the Diversey River Bowl for the "Bowling for Rhinos" event a couple days ago in Chicago- we raised a sizeable amount to help preserve the rhino species and help fight the cruel poaching that endangers them. My top hat is off to the Brookfield and Lincoln Park Zoos' AAZK branches, united for the first time to combine their efforts for the rhinos!
Tonight, however, it's not rhinos who are endangered - but anything that has a heartbeat - when that full moon rises...