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Werewolf in A Girl’s Dormitory - Werewolf in A Girl’s Dormitory(Blu Ray) [Severin - 2019]

Werewolf in A Girl’s Dormitory aka Lycanthropus is a black and white Italian/Austrian horror movie from 1961, directed by Paolo Heusch (The Day the Sky Exploded) from a screenplay by Ernesto Gastaldi, who would go on to script a number of classic gialli and Italian crime films including Sergio Martino’s genre defining masterpieces All the Colours of the Dark and Torso. This new Blu-ray from Severin films features a new print scanned from 2k archival elements discovered in a lab in Rome and is the film’s first outing in this format.

Often overlooked, Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory tells the tale of a Doctor, Julian Orcutt (Carl Schell, bother of Maximilian and Maria) who is taking up a new role as a science teacher in an all-girl reform school. Orcutt has previously been wrongly accused of murder and the school’s director, Swift (Curt Lowens) is the first person willing to take a chance on the doctor. When a young girl, Maria, is attacked and killed by a werewolf, suspicion begins to fall on not just Orcutt but several members of staff working at the school. Maria’s friend Priscilla, played by the strikingly beautiful Barbara Lass (Barbara Kwiatkowska), Roman Polanski’s first wife, opens a letter addressed to Maria and finds that she has been blackmailing someone, sadly the letter is unsigned so she decides to do some digging, which results in her being attacked by the werewolf, only to escape when the Alsatian, Wolf, attacks and wounds the assailant. This leads to a fascinating story where several cast members are suspected of being the werewolf, as Priscilla and Professor Orcutt find themselves entwined at the heart of the mystery. Priscilla looking to find her friend’s killer and Orcutt trying to prove his innocence, but is he innocent, or does he not remember his transformation?

Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory is a surprisingly enjoyable and atmospheric horror/thriller considering the somewhat comical title. The various twists and turns that take place throughout its uncut 85 minutes make for a far better film than the title suggests, and personally I much prefer its original title of Lyncanthropus. The cast are good, especially the leads Barbara Lass and Carl Schell as well as Luciano Pigozzi who plays Walter, the school caretaker. It’s also worth noting the excellent soundtrack by Armando Trovajoli, whose work continues to be used today, most recently in Scorcese’s The Irishman, but most interestingly in Lucio Fulci’s Don’t Torture A Duckling.

Severin’s Blu-ray has been lovingly put together, the film itself looks and sounds great for its age, the picture is sharp and the black and white is bright. The disc features a few interesting bonus materials, there is an interview with screenwriter Gastaldi, and a fascinating commentary with actor Curt Lowens, alongside the usual trailers, whilst the disc also features an alternative opening sequence. Most interesting of all is the bonus disc featuring the film’s excellent soundtrack by Armando Trovajoli, a real bonus for those like me, who collect horror soundtracks.

This is a great film and Severin have really done it justice with an excellent print and an overall package that deserves to be seen by fans of not just Italian horror and werewolf films but horror fans at large. A great atmospheric horror/thriller with some gory effects for the time.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Roger Batty
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