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Blu-ray Review: WEREWOLF IN A GIRLS’ DORMITORY

Severin unearths the original European release of this savage little drive-in classic

A grubby, public domain eyesore for years, Paolo Heusch’s WEREWOLF IN A GIRLS’ DORMITORY has always held a certain fascination among Eurohorror fans. Even in its awkward US edit, complete with that awesomely tacky title and goofball garage-rock theme song “The Ghoul in School”, this German/Italian co-production is an eerie anomaly, a hybrid mad science-meets-Gothic horror melodrama filled with mood, atmosphere and bursts of savage violence.

Now, Severin Films have tracked down a print of the original Italian release titled LYCANTHROPUS (great name for a band!), given it a 2K scan and presented it here on Blu-ray, totally uncut and in both Italian and the pretty decent English dub. The result is a revelation, a stylish, shadowy, monochromatic mystery with the screen’s weirdest werewolf and a lush, spooky score by composer Armando Trovajoli, which the company has awesomely delivered on an accompanying CD.

The movie stars Barbara Lass (Roman Polanski’s pre-Sharon Tate missus) as a co-ed in swanky, deep-woods all-girls reform school where some sort of raging lunatic is prowling through the woods, dragging his claws across the faces of some of the more unlucky ladies. Said visceral attacks are hammered home with spurts of black and white bloodshed and savage sound effects. Naturally, this particular lunatic is indeed a kind of werewolf but WHO the beast is and WHY he is becomes the central thrust of the narrative.

This is a badass little movie, made so much more effective by Severin’s crisp rescue-job and the use of the original version, which jettisons that dopey song and shakes off any cheap American passion-pit marketing nonsense, though they have amusingly included a mini-reproduction of the gimmicky and fun photo-book theaters handed out to lucky patrons upon release. The Blu-ray has a few key extras, including a great interview with writer and Italian exploitation legend Ernesto Gastaldi as well as a ported over commentary with Davi Del Valle and actor Curt Lowens that first appeared on Fred Olen Ray’s Retromedia DVD release.

WEREWOLF IN A GIRLS’ DORMITORY/LYCANTHROPUS is a fantastic, beautifully directed and deeply weird little slice of surreal Eurohorror fun and this is the definitive release.

 

 

Drive-in, downmarket Eurohorror

Black and white

Lurid US marketing campaign with goofball music on the movie

It’s great and fun as is

Neautered bersion of LYCANTHROPUS, a rather savage little mystery thriller girl’s school

Moody, beautifully directed Gothic and stylish

 

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