DirectorRino Di Silvestro
Release Date(s)1976 (October 28, 2014)
- Film/Program Grade: D+
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C-
Whatever else you may think about the man and his movies, you can’t deny that Quentin Tarantino has done more than most to rescue film oddities from complete obscurity, whether it’s through public screenings or video re-releases or just by stealing elements of them for his own stuff. That’s commendable although at this point, the QT Stamp of Approval doesn’t mean a whole lot. He talks about everything with the same level of boundless enthusiasm, making it hard to take his opinions too seriously. I’m not even sure he totally believes his own hype for some of these movies.
His praise of Rino Di Silvestro’s Werewolf Woman may be a bit overstated although I’m sure it’s at least partially genuine. The title is a little (OK, a lot) misleading. This isn’t a monster movie. Annik Borel stars as Daniela, a troubled woman trying to put her life back together after a traumatic rape. She becomes obsessed with the legend of her ancestor, also named Daniela, who was burned alive after turning into a werewolf. This obsession leads her to go feral when the moon is full, turning literally into a sexual predator and killing people she finds making love (this being Italy, that’s most everyone).
Now that’s not a horrible idea for a movie and Borel gives a fairly interesting (and definitely thoroughly committed) performance. But the execution leaves a lot to be desired. This is your usual choppy 70s exploitation storytelling with lots of expository scenes reiterating exactly what we’ve just seen. This makes the movie seem endless, especially when police inspector Frederick Stafford and doctor Elio Zamuto get together to compare notes and spout off a lot of jargony-sounding gobbledygook. It’s somehow worse in Italian with English subtitles, where it looks like the translator just sat down with a medical dictionary and started randomly typing words and phrases.
Eventually, Borel goes on the lam and falls in love with a stuntman (Howard Ross) in one of the most bizarre love montages ever cobbled together. She thinks she’s cured until she’s raped once again by three low-lifes and the movie takes another turn into I Spit On Your Grave territory. The movie’s final moments are certainly memorable but it’s a stretch to say the story resolves itself satisfactorily, although good luck to anybody trying to tie these disparate threads together.
RaroVideo brings Werewolf Woman to HD and the results aren’t bad. Raro is a little too in love with the digital noise reduction tool for my tastes and the image quality is smoother than it should be, although I’ve seen worse. Both Italian and English audio options are included, with the English dub mainly good for more unintentional laughs. Extras include a 19-minute interview with director Rino Di Silvestro that I ended up fast-forwarding through. It starts off decently but he takes the movie far too seriously and gives it more credit than it deserves. You also get both the English and Italian trailers and a booklet with liner notes by Fangoria’s Chris Alexander.
Werewolf Woman is a pretty sleazy piece of work with a fair amount of blood, copious amounts of nudity and one of the cheapest and weirdest werewolf makeups you’re likely to see. I wouldn’t call it a hidden gem or even an unpolished one. Maybe if you squint at it long enough, you’ll see something interesting in there but don’t be surprised if it’s just your imagination.
- Adam Jahnke
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