Combustible Celluloid
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With: Annik Borel, Howard Ross, Dagmar Lassander, Tino Carraro, Andrea Scotti, Frederick Stafford
Written by: Rino Di Silvestro, Anthony La Penna, Howard Ross
Directed by: Rino Di Silvestro
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Italian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 98
Date: 02/18/1976

Werewolf Woman (1976)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Howl Play

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Rino Di Silvestro's Werewolf Woman (1976) is an amazing movie, but not by any normal standards. It's amazing for its peculiar imagination, for its confident disregard for common sense, and for the courage of its convictions. The movie starts with a sequence involving a werewolf woman. It's nighttime, she's covered with hair and bounds around in the woods tearing people apart. But it turns out that she's not an actual werewolf. She just thinks she is (and, apparently, one of her ancestors was a lycanthrope). So every 30 days when the moon cycles and turns full, she gets homicidal tendencies.

Daniela Neseri (Annik Borel) was raped as a child and now lives under her father's care. She may actually be responsible for her brother's death, which has officially been blamed on mad dogs. Over the course of the movie, she kills several people, goes to the hospital, escapes thanks to the help of an amorous lesbian, falls in love with a stunt man, is raped again, and goes on a vengeance-fueled killing spree using big equipment at an auto wrecking yard. The movie includes tons of nudity and sex, blood and gore, and weird moments like Daniela shooting her stunt man boyfriend, only to reveal that it's all just a (surprise!) stunt!

The rape of the female character does take the movie into another territory, and it's not quite as much pure fun as its title may suggest. (I watched it on Halloween in hopes of a crazy monster experience.) It's really quite a cruel and brutal story, though I find Di Silvestro's approach somewhat more palatable than a more serious or deadly filmmaker would have made it. Daniela's story is very tragic, and I found her to be fairly sympathetic. Her rage and pain makes perfect emotional sense; it's not just an insane rampage. Regardless, for whatever it is, and for whatever it's not, Werewolf Woman is a very strong grindhouse curiosity.

The inimitable Raro Video released this film on a new Blu-ray, with quality as fine as you can imagine for a release of this type (these films are not exactly carefully preserved in vacuum-sealed vaults). The disc includes a new interview with Di Silvestro, a liner notes essay by Chris Alexander of Fangoria magazine, and two trailers, one Italian and one English.

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