This film is also being reviewed today by Todd of Cinema Monolith, who you may remember as my partner in crime when I slaughtered the oh-so-high reputation of 1962’s Invasion of the Star Creatures. Be sure to check out his review!
Mary Smith is a pupil at a school for delinquent girls, but her time locked up in this institution has done nothing to reform her. She still pulls pranks, like fake-fainting to get out of doing exercises. She’s also blackmailing one of the school’s teachers, Sir Alfred Whiteman, saying that he must help her get out of the school or be exposed as a super-creep who hits on and writes love letters to the students.
One night, Mary is killed while walking around the school grounds after an argument with Sir Alfred. But Alfred isn’t the one who kills her: she’s attacked by a werewolf! The police determine that she was killed by a non-were wolf, while her friends still believe Alfred is guilty.
Mary was the first to die, but she won’t be the last. More bodies begin turning up at the school, complicating the case.
Meanwhile, Dr. Julian Olcott has arrived as the new science teacher, just in time for the killing to begin. And he’s got a mysterious past. Could he be… THE WEREWOLF? (Cue dramatic music.)
Paolo Heusch (The Day the Sky Exploded) directs 1961’s Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory, originally titled Lycanthropus. The film was written by Ernesto Gastaldi (My Name is Nobody). This Italian horror flick is in the public domain, and a dubbed (poorly dubbed) English version can be found on the Internet Archive.
Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory opens quite deceptively with a snippet of an ultra-corny song, “The Ghoul in School,” playing over the credits. While this song may bring the cheese, the majority of the film does not.
“The Ghoul in School” and the various American titles of the film (Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory, Ghoul in a Girls’ Dormitory, Monster Among the Girls) were undoubtedly added to make this film seem a lot saucier than it is — and therefore, a lot more appealing to American audiences.
Instead of a saucy cheeser, Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory plays out like a fairly standard murder mystery. Mary’s death happens quite early on in the film and kicks off the chain of events (and investigation, more deaths) which propel the story. There are a couple of laughably over-dramatic scenes, but they aren’t nearly as frequent as I expected them to be.
The mystery actually does a decent job of capturing the viewer, though it can be dull at times. There are about a million red herrings thrown in to keep the viewer guessing. I found the dubbing to be extremely distracting, but the cinematography is quite nice and adds to the sense of mystery. The scenes shot in the forest are particularly atmospheric.
Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory isn’t a stellar mystery, nor is it a Classic of the Corn. I wouldn’t call it “A New High in Horror” as the promotional materials do, but it’s a decent watch. I don’t feel too strongly about it one way or the other. The score: 2.5/5