An impressive, different kind of werewolf movie
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 06/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm probably in the minority on this, but I think Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory (1962) is a darn near excellent film (and probably the best non-Universal werewolf movie I've seen). I think some horror fans are a little disappointed in it because the story doesn't really revolve around the werewolf himself, which means it's comparatively short on beastly action. Truly, this is more of a mystery thriller than anything else, but that's one of the reasons I like it. Let's face it; a traditional werewolf movie doesn't require the viewer to think at all. You know who the werewolf is, you see how he struggles (or not) against his cursed affliction, and you wait to see if he will be killed or cured. Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory isn't like that at all. Here, you aren't shown the identity of the werewolf until the end (even though it's pretty obvious all along), you have a number of suspects to weed through, and the werewolf's struggle to be free of his condition isn't particularly compelling.
The original name of this Italian/Austrian movie is Lycanthropus. For the American release, the film was dubbed in English (the dubbing really isn't that bad), and the name was changed to the more eye-catching Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory. The girls' dormitory in question is a sort of school for wayward girls - made possible by the school's benefactor, Sir Alfred Whiteman (Maurice Marsac), who turns out to be a rather pathetic creature who sees the school as his own private brothel. His main squeeze, who was threatening to let his little secret out of the bag, quickly ends up dead - apparently killed by a wolf. No one seems all that upset about the girl's death - except for her best friend Priscilla (Barbara Lass, a Polish actress who would later marry Roman Polanski). Priscilla is convinced that her friend was "assassinated" and sets out to discover the truth. It's a dangerous game she is playing, as her friend is only the first of several characters to wind up dead as events unfold. The obvious suspect is the school's new professor, Dr. Julian Olcott (Carl Schell). All we know about him is that he used to be a doctor and that the jury found him innocent of some crime in his past. Of course, there are several other strong suspects as well. Some viewers seem to tire of all the story's false leads and red herrings, but I see this aspect of the story as a real strength - of course, it would be much more effective if the killer's identity isn't so obvious early on.
The script of this film impressed me. While it may not answer all of the questions some viewers like to ask, it weaves a number of sub-plots together most effectively, thus maintaining the viewer's attention and interest from start to finish. I also have no problem with the presentation of the werewolf. The makeup looks just fine to me, and I think the werewolf transformations are also pretty good - nothing fancy, not even any time-lapse photography magic, but certainly effective. Opposite the beast, you have great beauty in the fair Barbara Lass, a talented actress blessed with an extraordinary pair of eyes.
There you have it: a strong script, quite good acting, a gorgeous female lead, more than adequate werewolf makeup and effects, and an actual murder mystery. If the killer hadn't been so easy to finger early on, I would have given this film five stars. The verdict is by no means unanimous, but I personally think that Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory is an excellent, memorable entry in the werewolf movie genre."
More "German shepherd in an institute for wayward girls"
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 08/01/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory" was also released in the United States as "Ghoul in a Girls' Dormitory," "Monster Among the Girls," although its original title as near as I can determine was "Lycanthropus." Now, you have to admit from the title that appears on the DVD that we are talking about a werewolf running around a dormitory filled with half-naked young girls, but that is not the case. Yes, European films got to more explicit nudity and gore earlier than their American counterparts, but this film still predates that point in cinematic history. Besides, the idea that you a werewolf and ghoul could be interchangeable is not a good sign either and when you see the art that goes with the title card of this film you might be tempted to just turn it off right then and there.
For the sake of argument, let us say you continue. It turns out this particular girl's dormitory is not at a college but a private institute for wayward girls, which makes it pretty much a high class reform school. Or at least, a version of what this badly dubbed Italian production thinks would be an American reform school, which means they are mostly bad girls, but with one good girl, Priscilla (Barbara Lass) for us to root for. The plot is basically that Dr. Julian Olcott (Carl Schell) is the academy's new teacher and becomes the target of chief bad girl, Mary (Mary McNeeran). It seems Julian used to be a real doctor, but there was some sort of scandal. He was cleared in court, but his career was still ruined and now he is starting over as a teacher. As for Mary, this is one troubled kid and before we can clearly number all of her sins she is killed by a creature of the night. Everyone things there are wolves on the loose, but we know better because we have seen the title of the film.
So, basically "Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory" is a mystery thriller that asks who oh who can the werewolf and/or ghoul possibly be? (actually when we see it in action it is clearly a German shepherd). The problem is that although everybody (and I mean EVERYBODY) in this film acts suspiciously and eerie music accompanied just about every scene in the early part of the movie, if you do not know who the werewolf really is you should be punished by not watching MST3K for a period of not less than two months. That means the final tally on this one is that there is no nudity, the transitions of the monster are laughable, and there is no mystery at all to whodunit.
Still, this is an entertaining bad movie, which has some sense of style even if the acting is pretty bad. A couple of the attack sequences are actually staged well, so maybe director Paolo Heusch or somebody there knew what they were doing. It is enough to get you to perk up for a moment and pay attention. Actress Barbara Lass was actually married to Roman Polanski (1959-62) before she left Poland to make movies in Italy, so there is some cache to her presence. She is not really an actress, but even in black & white you can tell she clearly has great eyes. Bottom line is that there are enough decent moments to go along with the deliciously bad parts to make this worthwhile if you like to enjoy bad movies.
The Ghoul in School rules! Low-budget, European style.
Robert S. Clay Jr. | St. Louis, MO., USA | 10/16/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For those of us who can't get enough of low-brow horror flicks. The girl's dorm is actually a reform-school for girls, perched on a high Alpine-type mountain. A werewolf stalks the night. The movie is a horror-mystery combination that conceals the identity of the monster until later in the film. The B&W photography is appropriately moody. The emphasis on female pulchritude recalls the Hammer horror cycle of the 1950s and 1960s, without Hammer's rich color photography. (Where's Christopher Lee when you need him?) The werewolf make-up is unfrightening enough for the local PTA "Haunted Forest" at Halloween. This little chiller-thriller can be taken as a harmless time-waster, or as unintentional humor. Good Halloween party tape!"
We got some real B&W hotties in this!!!
Johny Bottom | Jacksonville, NC | 05/01/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Well with a title like this, there are those who just have to check this movie out. Like others have said, it's more a reform school than a dormitory, all the better!!
OK so the plot is a werewolf is killing girls at a reform school. Pretty obvious huh? Well here's the kicker, it's a mystery movie. I won't give it away, but you will NOT guess who the werewolf is! So who are the list of suspects?
1. The new professor who is really a doctor that had his license revoked for accusations of homicide.
2. The groundskeeper who will remind you of Peter Lorre at his creepiest
3. An unknown dude who actually looks like a werewolf
4. A teacher who pays money to the girls fro sexual favors and gets caught.
5. The dean
The story is clever, the acting is above par for a movie from this genre, and the girls are BABES!!!! Sure you have to put up with a little hokieness, like a one armed man with a knife can hold off twenty grown men in a bar, but go along with it. The werewold effects and makeup job are pretty good too. This is not a schlock movie, it's actually a decent flick. I was a little disappointed because I'm a schlock fan, so that should gie you an idea what to expect."