Werewolf of London (1935)

“The werewolf instinctively seeks to kill the thing it loves best.”

Synopsis:
A botanist (Henry Hull) seeking a rare flower in Tibet is scratched by a werewolf and given the “disease”; back in London, he tries to hide his secret from his wife (Valerie Hobson) and stay away from her during the full moon, so that he won’t “harm the one he loves best”.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “first werewolf movie” — directed by Stuart Walker — features “solid acting”, “was seriously, somberly made”, and “set the rule for future entries in the subgenre by having an unhappy ending”. As he points out, it’s “not a bad horror film, although it isn’t particularly frightening”, and Warner Oland’s sinister character (a mysterious Japanese “gentleman” who “pays him a visit”) isn’t given enough screentime. Peary accurately notes that “the best scenes” are the “exciting, atmospheric opening” in the Himalayas, and “when Hull transforms into a werewolf as he walks behind some columns” (a nifty, seamless piece of special effects editing).

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Effective make-up design and transformation sequences
  • Atmospheric cinematography

Must See?
Yes, simply for its historical importance as the first werewolf film (other than a lost 18-minute silent short).

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One Response to “Werewolf of London (1935)”

  1. First viewing. A tentative once-must for fans of werewolf films; others will likely have less interest. Its historical value is noted – and its transformation sequences carry some punch – but the cast suffers considerably under the weight of generally creaky dialogue and the sense of the plot is generally wobbly (i.e., it’s somewhat confusing knowing what is or isn’t going on with the ‘medicinal’ flower and how it’s being used). Speaking as a fan of werewolf movies, I was a little more restless than engaged.

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