Peter Cushing headlines the next werewolf flick highlighted in DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies book by director John Landis. That being said, he doesn’t do a lot until the halfway mark of the film, but prior to that he serves as the film’s narrator.
Set in the French city of Paris where everyone speaks with English accents in the 19th century the tale follows a young man named Etoile (David Rintoul) whose parents were attacked by wolves just as he was being born, and they in turn raised him.
As a feral child he ran the forests with his pack until he is captured by a traveling circus which turns him into a curiosity for onlookers. Escaping the travelling circus, violently, he flees to English-speaking Paris and promptly falls in love with Christine (Lynn Dalby).
Unfortunately for Etoile he doesn’t realize that Christine’s job is the oldest in existence, and assaults her customers. As bodies start to pile up, Etoile’s jealousy is barely controlled, a police surgeon, Professor Paul (Cushing) is investigating the sudden rash of animal attacks and comes to an inescapable conclusion…
There’s a werewolf afoot!
This one is rather odd, somehow this feral boy changes into a werewolf when his emotions are heightened, as if being raised in proximity to wolves somehow causes this transformation, and his affinity with animals.
The plot is barely comprehensible as Paul goes into the sewers (that’s how Etoile has been getting around) to see if he can’t save the young man, even as he carries a gun loaded with silver bullets.
And why would silver bullets be better than real bullets in this situation if his transformation was simply a natural extension of his being raised by wolves? And speaking of weird stuff, why is Etoile, a dark haired man, transformed into a white haired wolf-man when the mood strikes?
That being said, the makeup work looks pretty good and reminds me of the wolf-man in another film that is coming up on the list.
Despite Cushing’s star power, there isn’t a lot to recommend this one, and even he doesn’t seem to know what is going on character wise for most of the film. He’ll throw out truly funny asides, or make superiors uncomfortable, and otherwise fill the film with a light, fun touch but then it shifts, and his character seems to change completely. One could argue his character is becoming focused on the task at hand, but that to me just doesn’t wash.
Still, it’s a real delight to watch the evolving nature of the werewolf in cinema, and if you don’t believe me pick up a copy of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies and find a monster of your own to watch tonight!