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  She-Wolf of London Black Sheep
Year: 1946
Director: Jean Yarbrough
Stars: Don Porter, June Lockhart, Sara Haden, Jan Wiley, Lloyd Corrigan, Dennis Hoey, Martin Kosleck, Eily Malyon, Frederick Worlock, James Finlayson
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: London at the turn of the century, and Detective Latham (Lloyd Corrigan) walks into the office of his superior, Inspector Pierce (Dennis Hoey), and asks him to investigate the so-called "werewolf murders" that have occured recently in the vicinity. Pierce is sceptical of the culprit being an actual werewolf, preferring to blame the deaths on a stray dog, but goes along anyway, and when they reach the Allenby country estate where they took place they interrupt one of the ladies of the manor, Phyllis (June Lockhart) with her fiancée Barry Lanfield (Don Porter). Phyllis is understandably worried, but not for the reasons everyone else might think: due to the family curse, she believes she might just be the she-wolf...

She-Wolf of London has a reputation of being the worst werewolf movie from the golden age of horror movies, so bad in fact that there isn't even a true werewolf in it, but it's not a completely hopeless case. Scripted by George Bricker from Dwight V. Babcock's story, an informal writing team who made a handful of such low budget chillers around this time, it's really a whodunnit more than a horror, and poor Phyllis is such an obvious candidate for being the killer that it's also obvious that it cannot possibly be her. As played by Lockhart, best known for being Mrs Robinson in the Lost in Space television series (which was about as sensible as this is), her expression never strays from wide-eyed fretfulness.

Phyllis lives in the country house - it's not even set in the foggy capital city streets, in spite of what the the title promises - with her cousin Carol Winthrop (Jan Wiley) and her aunt, the matriarchal Martha Winthrop (Sara Haden). Martha has the household kept in an iron grip, ensuring that Carol does not see her beloved, starving artist (Martin Kosleck), and her strict demeanour brings out the film's main theme, that a house full of women will go round the bend pretty swiftly if there isn't a sensible man around to set them right and stop them believing in such woolly-headed thinking as superstitions and worse, worse being that murder is a solution to your problems.

With touches of The Hound of the Baskervilles (note the presence of regular Inspector Lestrade, Dennis Hoey in the cast) and Rebecca, the Gothic aspect is not passed over lightly, but She-Wolf of London cannot help but look silly the more it progresses. Not that it does a lot of progressing, as half an hour into an hour long film we're no further into solving the mystery than we were at the beginning. Treading water plotwise, it's easy to grow impatient, even if they carry out such unusual tricks as killing off the comic relief by having him succumb to the werewolf that isn't. With red herrings such as the possibly insane Martha's habit of keeping fierce dogs as pets which bark all night making Phyllis stay up, and then when she does get to sleep she wakes up the next morning with bloodstained hands and muddy shoes, it's all too hokey, but can be enjoyed on that corny level for all its daft shortcomings.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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