Grunge

Werewolf in mid-transformation.

The grotty, post-dubbed, low-res seediness of WEREWOLF IN A GIRL’S DORMITORY and ATOM AGE VAMPIRE kind of wear on you. Both films started out continental (German and Italian) and with classier titles: LYCANTHROPUS and SEDDOK. I like SEDDOK enormously as a title, for the same inexplicable reason I like Michael Powell’s quota quickie RYNOX — nonsense words with a manly sound to them!

In fact, according to the IMDb, what Denis Gifford calls SEDDOK was released as SEDDOK, L’EREDE DI SATANA. It’s a knock-off of Franju’s rather more poetic EYES WITHOUT A FACE, which was revamped in Spain by Jesus Franco as THE AWFUL DR ORLOFF. In the low rent Italian version, a go-go dancer suffers facial mutilation in an unconvincing car accident and agrees to experimental treatment by a couple of obviously dodgy medicos. Soon, everyone is lap-dissolving into scabby, unkempt “vampires.”

(If Freda could make THE HORRIBLE DR HITCHCOCK and Franco coughed out THE AWFUL DR ORLOFF, what other titles remain unused? THE FRANGIBLE DR FRANKENSTEIN? THE TERRIBLE DR TERWILLIKER?)

This is a product of the post-war years when Italian horror was briefly science-fictional, following the atomic and space-age concerns of American movies. Soon, the Gothic would assert itself, a surprising development for that place and era, only to be largely superseded by the cod-psychological mayhem of the giallo.

Poor Sergio Fantoni! From Visconti’s SENSO to SEDDOK.

Both these films look like they might have modest virtues (even if LYCANTHROPUS deploys an unpromising whodunnit approach to werewolfery) — SEDDOK in particular has plenty of interesting, expressive camera angles — shots which really tell the story, and shots which are just decoratively beautiful or atmospheric. And the killer’s raincoat made me think of DON’T LOOK NOW. But the poor quality public domain copies, dubbed and probably rescored, do the films no favours. Maybe I’d revisit them if better editions appeared.

Chalk off another two titles in my quest to See Reptilicus and Die!

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15 Responses to “Grunge”

  1. Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory is such an enchanting title.

  2. Oh why must I be a lycanthrope in love?

  3. Those 2 films plus THE VAMPIRE AND THE BALLERINA form a kind of trilogy of early ’60s b&w horror/grunge.

  4. Never even heard of TV&TB… I think I have to see it now!

  5. Sounds like a remake of The Red Shoes.

    “This time they’re REALLY Red!”

  6. Christopher Says:

    Werewolf?…
    ..THERE..there wolf..
    Always liked the catchy theme for WIAGD…There was a Ghoul in school…Thats all I remember of it..

  7. When I was an impressionable youth, I saw a double-bill of “Atom Age Vampire,” as it was then called, and Margheriti’s “Battle of the Worlds.” Don’t remember a thing about ‘em, alas. But those were the sorts of titles to set me a-tinglin’.

  8. Chris,
    If you mean Battle of the Planets, I just saw it. It was on TCM in July. As for a review, I have nothing at all to say except that your brain is functioning correctly if it’s flushed the memory of that film away. It’s really more fun to watch with Wild, Wild World, so you can see how they reused the scenery and props.

  9. I do have a fondness for recurring scenery and props (bits of Twins of Evil seem to materialise as decor in The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and also identifiable stock footage — it’s the postmodernist in me. Film as a continuum — it adds weight to the feeling that cinema is a PLACE.

  10. Unpromising whodunnit approach to werewolfery?

  11. That’s the ticket!

    The forthcoming Scottish horror Outcast revives the tradition…

  12. Mndean, what I mean is “il pianeta degli uomini spenti,” which IMDb tells us had the U.S. title of “Battle of the Worlds.” Actually, I do remember one thing about it: Claude Rains’ puzzled face, with the colored lights of sci-fi computers reflecting off it.

    ExperimentoFilm, I’ve yet to see “Beast Must Die,” which sounds pretty dire, but feel impelled to remark that it’s based on a ?story? by a really good writer, James Blish. Perhaps that makes for an effective moment or two. I certainly hope so. Perhaps if, as the title suggests, it had been directed by Claude Chabrol …

  13. Both the Chabrol and the Amicus werewolf movie use the same biblical quote as source for their titles, but only the Chabrol is based on a novel by Daniel Day-Lewis’s father, poet laureate Cecil, writing under the pseudonym Nicholas Blake. The Chanrol is a better film, and I somehow doubt, having seen the Michael Gambon wolfman flick, if much of Blish survived in it.

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