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Previously released on DVD by Media Blasters/Shriek Show, Rino Di Silvestro's notorious Werewolf Woman (alternately known in domestically as The Legend Of The Wolf Woman) lives again, now on Blu-ray courtesy of Raro Video. Those expecting something akin to a Lon Chaney or even a Paul Naschy style werewolf movie will no doubt walk away from this one scratching their heads, but fans of prime Euro-trash should step right up without hesitation!
The film opens with a remarkable scene in which a very naked woman (Annik Borel) does some sort of ritualistic dance out in the woods before transforming into something that kinda-sorta looks like a werewolf. From there, she's caught by the requisite angry mob of villagers who then proceed to put her to death. It turns out that this is all just a nightmare experienced by a woman named Daniela (Borel again) who lives with her wealthy father, Count Neseri (Tino Carraro), in their huge family home. Though Daniela obviously has some problems, these tie into a rape in her past and are something that her father is quite aware of, she seems pleasantly surprised when he offers to take her on a vacation.
This happiness is short lived, however, because her sister Elena (Dagmar Lassander) returns home from school where she was studying nuclear physics (!?!) with her boyfriend Arrighi (Andrea Scotti) in tow. When she peeps in on them having sex one night, she then decides to take Arrighi out into the middle of the woods for a booty call of her own but just as things start getting hot and heavy, she bites him on the neck and leaves him there for dead. The police investigate and blame it on a watch dog but Daniela winds up being tucked away in a mental hospital. You'd think that here, Daniela would get the treatment she needs to become a fine, upstanding member of society but no, things really just go from bad to worse for the poor woman. Before you know it she's bound to her bed and acting as if she's possessed by the devil himself. She has a random encounter with a monitor lizard, has a tryst with a lesbian patient and then makes it out of the hospital leaving a trail of bodies in her wake…
As unapologetically trashy as you'd expect from the man who directed Women In Cell Block 7, Deported Women of the SS Special Section and Hanna D., Werewolf Woman is a whirlwind of fairly inspired lunacy. Right from the opening scene (which is really the only one that ties into the whole werewolf thing on a visual level) in which Borel ‘transforms' into one of the strangest looking lycanthropes you'll ever see (those nipple extensions are just scary) through to the finale this is a movie that pushes sex and violence in the forefront and tosses logic out the window. The movie borrows from possession films like The Exorcist but also adds a rape/revenge element into the mix alongside the (metaphorical?) werewolf aspect of the story resulting in a truly mixed-up movie that is, if nothing else, wildly entertaining if not technically all that good.
Some of the camera work here is pretty shaky and the movie builds to a climax best described as ridiculous but if you're in the right frame of mind for this, it's good sleazy fun despite some really uneven pacing and tonal shifts. While there may have been aspirations to play to a more serious tone with the way in which Daniela's repression causes her to lose her mind, the film is pretty rough in how it depicts sexual relations between a man and a woman. No matter who Daniela ends up with, she's damned to suffer at the hands of pretty much all of the men she encounters and they only way she can deal with this is to kill them off. All of this is handled with such an over the top and gratuitous style that it's nearly impossible to take this as anything more than exploitation.On that level, we get what we want out of the film. There's a few solid gore scenes and nudity aplenty. The lovely Dagmar Lassander has a welcome boudoir scene here while Annik Borel really throws herself into the role with absolutely zero trepidation as to its more explicit content. She grunts and growls and screams her way through the film with enough effort to actually create a few moments that are actually a little unnerving. While it's inaccurate to say she rises above the material, she definitely does give it her all and she's fantastic in the lead role. It's hard to feel sorry for her character despite the fact that she really is put through the ringer by the time the movie ends, but her performance is definitely effective. The Blu-ray:
Werewolf Woman debuts on Blu-ray from Raro in VC-1 encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. This transfer isn't as sandblasted as some of Raro's other recent Blu-ray releases but the noise reduction that has plagued those discs is definitely noticeable, if not quite as abundantly. Facial detail is a bit waxy, it's hard not to notice this. Additionally there are compression artifacts evident throughout the movie and some problems with minor crush. The good news is that the transfer is very clean showing no print damage at all and that it boasts fairly good color reproduction and decent skin tones. This looks a bit better in motion than the screen caps probably allude to but as watchable as this is, it does leave room for improvement.Sound:
Audio options are offered up in LPCM 2.0 Mono tracks in both English and Italian with optional subtitles provided in English only. No issues with the audio to report. Dialogue is clean and clear and the tracks are properly balanced. The film is slightly easier to take seriously when watched in Italian as the English dubbing is ridiculous but Raro did the right thing by including both tracks on this disc.Extras:
The main supplement on this release is a twenty-minute long on camera interview (conducted in Italian with English subtitles) with the film's director, Rino Di Silvestro. He speaks quite candidly about how he needed to make a commercially viable film and how this was his attempt to do just that. He also talks about the cast and crew that he worked on and shares some interesting stories about making the film. The disc also includes two trailers for the feature, menus and chapter selection. The case comes housed inside a cardboard slipcover and inside is a booklet of liner notes from Fangoria's Chris Alexander that offer up a more serious analysis of the film than you might expect to read.Final Thoughts:
Werewolf Woman is pretty nutty stuff but if you're in the right frame of mind for it, the film is also deliriously entertaining. Raro's high definition role out for the film offers up an okay transfer, decent audio and an interesting interview with the director. Not a movie for all tastes but fans of unabashed Euro-trash should certainly enjoy it and to those fans, it comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.