Legend Of The Werewolf
Legend Of The Werewolf could be seen as the film which killed
off the Gothic horror industry in this country for good, coming as it
did right when the whole thing was in rapid decline. Some might think
this a harsh statement, considering that the makers (Tyburn) churned out
the reasonably satisfactory The Ghoul the next
year. But let us not forget that this was the same company which also
produced the execrable Persecution. And
also that Legend
really isn't very good.
Lurching uncomfortably between dreadful comedy and boring horror, there's
not a great deal to recommend the film - apart from the ever dependable
presence of Peter Cushing, obviously. The man is like a shining light,
amongst possibly some of the worst acting ever committed to celluloid.
It comes to something when the second best performance in a film is given
by Roy Castle.
Cushing is even drafted in to narrate the story, as if the makers thought
that the only way to save the film was to shoehorn him in at every opportunity.
Once again it's midnight on Christmas Eve (see Hammer's classier Curse
Of The Werewolf) and a woman's about to give birth in the middle of
a forest. A pack of wolves descend on this pleasant family scene, rip
the dad to shreds and take young 'un under their paws.
Enter Pamponi's Circus, a travelling freakshow. When one of their number
shoots at a rabbit but accidentally wings a scruffy-looking Mowgli-alike,
he grabs the injured boy and takes him back to camp. Pamponi decides to
make "wolf boy" his star exhibit (not hard when the others are
a fat bloke with a drum, a performing dog and a Russian "princess"
sporting a single tattoo).
The boy (named Etoile by the circus folk) grows up and turns into David
Rintoul (a man made out of so much cardboard you can see the staples holding
him together), and it's only at this point that he finally turns into
a werewolf (why?!!) and rips his best mate's throat out. Fingered for
the crime by the not-quite-dead-yet victim (Pamponi's a bit early with
his "If you've never seen a dead 'un, you've seen one now!"
line), Etoile runs away and goes to work in a zoo run by Fagin
This is supposed to be France, yet Moody is in full-on Cockernee geezer
mode: "Start right away, clean up a bit! I'll give you a 'and
a bit later
" He even has his own catchphrase, ending every
lame joke with a "Beep beep!". This is in no way annoying.
It appears that the zoo's only customers are three prostitutes from the
brothel across the road, who come in every day to eat their lunch. One
of them asks Moody: "It's about time you let us in for free!",
to which he replies: "Oh yeah, sure
if you'll do the same for
me, beep beep!"
Of course, the young and innocent Etoile immediately falls for one of
the tarts, which can only spell trouble.
25 minutes in, and we're finally thrown a lifeline with the first appearance
of Cushing, a police surgeon up to his elbows in gore. Frankly, the man
could be rogering my mother whilst giving a rendition of "The Cheeky
Song (Touch My Bum)" and I'd still be pleased to see him, this film
being such a painful experience to sit through so far. Strangely, his
name appears to by Professor Ker-plunk. Sadly, we aren't treated to fellow
police workers Sergeant Boggle and Chief Constable Buckaroo.
But back to the story (if we must). Etoile finds out what Christine actually
does for a living, and isn't happy. He jumps through a window and attacks
her latest customer (her reaction is a hoot - a huge speech delivered
in a flat monotone). When she refuses his offer of marriage, Etoile begins
to pick her customers off one by one, and eventually Cushing becomes interested
in this apparent serial killer.
The film then meanders to a blood-soaked climax in the sewers. So now
you're asking, "Don't beat around the bush here - is it any good?".
Well, no, obviously.
Legend Of The Werewolf is tedious, boring, not frightening and
rubbish on all counts. Even the much-praised werewolf make-up isn't all
it's cracked up to be (halfway through his transformation, Etoile looks
fatally like Jon Pertwee). There's one harsh bit (when Etoile is ordered
to kill the wolves in his care at the zoo), but Rintoul's lack of ability
scuppers this supposedly touching scene. As it does every scene he's in.
But worst thesp of the lot award has to go to Christine, who actually
looks like she's about to burst out laughing during the supposedly emotional
Want to really know how rubbish the whole farrago is? The werewolf scenes
are all shot from the wolfs-eye view, with a red filter. And the first
time this is shown, you can see the shadow of the cameraman in front of
you. That's just shoddy. Beep beep.