Day 03: From The 1940’s
She-Wolf Of London (1946)
With a title like She-Wolf Of London (1946) you may think that this horror/mystery is about werewolves, to an extent perhaps it is, however this film is a slow burn psychological horror that relies on it’s characters to really tell the story. The landscape of horror by the 1940’s was changing and evolving, films would explore different theme’s whilst revisiting old stories. The use of the werewolf legend has become a major part within the genre, there are many ways to use the myth and in the way it is handled here is quite clever.
A young heiress Phyllis Allenby (June Lockhart) starts to believe the curse of her family might be true after strange vicious murders start happening close to home. The murders appear to have been done by an animal or as Detective Latham (Llyod Corrigan) believes it is a female werewolf attacking people. Phyllis believing the curse of her family is turning her into a werewolf she decides to stay indoors, not see anyone and be looked after by her doting Aunt Martha (Sara Haden). Is the curse true or is there something more sinister going on?
With a short runtime (61 minutes) the film does not feel like it is missing anything, everything is introduced and explored with enough time to get invested in the characters and watch the story unwind. Whilst the plot may be some what easy to unwind, it is still quite an enjoyable adventure to be on, with some fairly solid performances from a well rounded cast, especially great is Sara Haden who steals every scene she is in. There are some intriguing visuals that enhance a suspicious atmosphere, making She-Wolf Of London a gem of 40’s horror cinema and one that this writer would recommend.
Day 04: From The 1950’s
El Vampiro (1957)
The vampire film is one you’ll find many of when looking for horror genre films, it can be quite difficult to know even where to start, even for seasoned horror watchers. For the 1950’s prompt for today a Mexican vampire film was chosen, a film that is on the surface on a version of the tale of Dracula, a gothic type setting and a main female protagonist with El Vampiro (1957). The film was essentially the start of the boom of the Mexican horror films that really took off in the 60’s, very much taking inspiration from Universal horror and giving it a fresh feel make over.
The film focuses on a young woman Marta (Ariadne Welter) who travels back to her hometown after hearing her Aunt (Alicia Montoya) is unwell. When she finally arrives she senses something is not quite right within the town, her Aunt has passed on and her other Aunt Eloise (Carmen Montejo) has started acting strangely, almost under the influence of mysterious man Mr. Duval (Germán Robles). With the help of a stranger she met upon arriving to town Dr. Enrique (Abel Salazar), she attempts to uncover the mystery of the town and whether the rumors of vampires are actually true.
This is quite a fun and enjoyable film, the influences are obvious and it very much like the classic Dracula (surpassing Hammer’s film by a year) but at the same time the story is different with the family dynamics being at the forefront. Visually it is a very striking film, the black and white element adds to that in a very good way. There are some rather silly moments (the vampire turns into a bat and the strings are very visible) and performances can be a tad over the top, in a way it does add to the charm of the film. Mexican horror cinema is impressive and shouldn’t be overlooked when looking finding some different horror to sink those teeth into. El Vampiro would make for a very entertaining double feature with Drácula (1931) the Spanish version.
Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea