Werewolf Woman (1976)

Werewolf Woman PosterDespite the movie’s title, director and co-writer Rino Di Silvestro doesn’t seem to realize what his movie is supposed to be about, employing an ineffective kitchen sink approach that sees him mix a variety of elements with little apparent reason including reincarnation, lycanthropy, pseudo-scientific psycho-babble, horny Italians, and revenge drama. It is only once he unleashes a stuntman on us that the film becomes minor triumph of sublime ridiculousness over style and substance.

The one thing we were hoping to see in a movie called Werewolf Woman, a woman werewolf, was really nowhere to be found except in short glimpses that were just flashbacks and/or delusions.

Normally, a woman obsessed with her demented delusion that she is a murderous werewolf with sexual hangups wouldn’t be that much of a problem, but since Daniella is a survivor of a brutal rape when she was thirteen years old and expresses her repressed desires by peeping her sister and her sister’s husband during one of their conjugal visits to her villa, a short stay at the mental hospital is probably in the offing. Well, that and because she lured the husband (Fabian) out into the woods, forced herself on him, bit and clawed him, and heaved him over a cliff to his death.

Now safely ensconced at the local hospital for the frequently deluded and always denuded, Daniella doesn’t respond to treatment very well. She has episodes where she needs to be strapped down and shouts things like “whore” over and over at the top of her lungs at her sister who is still mourning Fabian’s untimely demise (conveniently blamed on the guard dogs at the villa).

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She also has episodes where she hides a pair of scissors under herself just in case the resident nympho sneaks into her room, unties her and needs a good stabbing.

Daniella makes her escape from the asylum in a scene that was unintentionally funny where she hides in a doctor’s car and then smashes the driver’s head against the steering wheel repeatedly causing the horn to honk again and again.

Once the car crashes, Daniella begins roaming around the countryside and the movie becomes a series of scenes where she has encounters with people who are so tainted by their wanton ways, they need to punished by a werewolf woman.

Of course the werewolf woman is merely suggested in Daniella’s actions. She sweats, screams, and growls, but otherwise remains human at all times.

By this time, I had written this movie off as a dull slurry of sex killings with supernatural overtones, but that was before Di Silvestro reached way, way down into his bag of tricks and pulled out… the stuntman!

Forget all the mumbo jumbo about lycanthropy and the reincarnation hooey. Where this film really earns its quirky claim to fame is Daniella’s love affair with a stuntman and their stay at the old west town movie set that Stuntguy is working on.

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When Stuntguy picks up Daniella and reveals himself to be not only a stuntman but also sensitive and respectful of the dames, I was only tittering to myself a little. The smart ass in me was thinking, “what are they going to do on dates? Fall off really tall buildings? Break chairs over one another? Pull their punches during domestic squabbles?” The next thing I know, Daniella is shooting at him while he’s high atop a bell tower and he immediately executes a big stunt fall! Much laughing and hugging on the big air mattress follows.

Di Silvestro then goes into “love montage” overdrive and actually has scenes of them frolicking on the beach in the sunset interspersed with scenes of him diving through saloon windows! Some may question why there was never anyone else ever on this movie set and what happened to the movie that Stuntguy was shooting, but those are obviously people who have never been in love!

But what about Daniella’s werewolf woman gimmick? Was all it took to cure it the love of a rugged and pretty cut stuntman? Had he vanquished all the ghosts of the past with his high morals and even higher falls?

Before we get a chance to answer all those questions, Daniella gets gang raped! If that seems sudden, that’s an example of Di Silvestro’s pacing and narrative work for you. Three guys we’ve never seen before show up without any explanation (I guess they just check abandoned movie sets for women to assault) and brutalize Daniella while Stuntguy is out buying a new case of breakaway liquor bottles. All of this sends Daniella back over the edge and Rino switches to Death Wish-style revenge antics for the remainder of the movie.

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This was a dull journey into the one dimensional world of Daniella, who remained, as she was from the very beginning of the movie, a pale cipher capable of little beyond moving from catatonia to animalistic rage.

Nothing is explained as to why she received no help from the time of her rape at age 13 to the present or why she was allowed to fixate on this idiotic (and likewise unexplained) bit of family folklore.

Cloaking it all in this faux modern psychology did nothing beyond making things seem even hokier than they otherwise would have been. And stopping the movie dead in its tracks for several minutes about two-thirds of the way through so that Daniella’s doctor could recap in excruciating detail everything that we had just seen to the investigator while playing a game of pool was about as ill-advised as picking up a growling hitchhiking chick with froth drying at the corner of her lips.

Still, I would willingly trade lots of boring scenes, an uninteresting main character, and a decided lack of the titular monster for a peek inside the high risk love life of a stuntman any time!

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