Plot: What’s it about?
A rural estate is home to a private institution, one which houses wayward young women who need some direction. This is supposed to be a place where the ladies can learn, become moral, and mature as women, but that isn’t always the case. A young woman named Mary (Mary McNeernan) is a prime example, as all of the lessons have been lost on her. Not only has the school’s programs not turned her around, she has become even worse than before. She causes trouble in her classes, gets into fights with classmates, and worst of all, is involved in an affair with one of her teachers, which would disgrace the entire institution. Alfred Whiteman (Maurice Marsac) is the man she is involved with, but she wants to blackmail him now, as she has tired of the sexual aspect and wants to cash in. He refuses at first, but now finds himself in a hard place, as she is prepared to reveal the truth to the school’s leaders. At the same time, a new teacher named Mr. Swift (Curt Lowens) arrives and is determined to do his best at the school. That night, Mary sneaks out to confront Whiteman one last time, but she never returns. The police discover she was attacked by a wolf, as the scene was violent and brutal. But was the case that simple, or is there a darker force at work at the school, one which could strike again?
Also known as Lycanthropus, this piece of low rent cinema has seen several DVD releases, all of which came from low end labels. In other words, the discs have bad transfers and no extras, so even with a low price, not worth the investment. Retromedia’s offering seemed to have potential, but is head and shoulders above the crowd? You’ll have to consult the technical portion of the review for that analysis, but the film itself is as fun as ever. Well, almost as much fun, since rights issues kept the hilarious The Ghoul in School song off this release. I am surprised, since most of the cheapie editions of this movie have the song included. Even so, the movie stands as a fun, but sometimes dull picture. Curt Lowens (Firefox, A Midnight Clear) makes a good werewolf, thanks to some solid makeup work and a lot of gnarling attitude. And this is a monster movie, so the need for a good monster is massive, so Lowens was up to the task. Barbara Lass (Love at Twenty, Riffifi in Tokyo) is also in fine form, as her presence adds a lot to the film, even though her performance isn’t all that wonderful. In the end, Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory is good genre fun, a B movie with spunk that has some terrific moments. So if you’re a fan of B movies or camp laden horror cinema, then give Retromedia’s DVD a spin.
Video: How does it look?
Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory is presented in 1.66:1 widescreen, which has not been enhanced for widescreen televisions. I was pleased to have a widescreen edition, but unless you own a small television, the end result is lackluster. The print looks good, better than expected with not much in terms of serious grain or debris. A few bad splices and some jitters aside, this print is in more than acceptable condition. The black & white visuals come across well, with a decent amount of detail and no severe worries. In other words, the source material seems in proper order, which is why I am so let down by this treatment. Retromedia’s compression has given the film a digital haze, which gets more evident on larger screens. So when I tried it on my main home theater, it was not a pretty sight, to say the least. On small to moderate size screens, it should look passable, but big screen owners will be disappointed.
Audio: How does it sound?
The mono soundtrack found here is a little rough around the edges, but when you think about its age & low budget roots, it starts to sound more than acceptable. The usual mono problems aren’t too present here, with minimal hiss and infrequent pops & distortion, so while not pristine, the elements have battled time to some extent. The music is about as good as can expected, while sound effects are thin and tinny, but again, this is pretty much the best it can all sound. I had no complaints with dialogue however, as vocals seemed to be clean and well presented, without any volume balance issues to contend with.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some still photos, as well as an audio commentary track with star Curt Lowens. Lowens, who is joined by fan David Del Valle. The session is brisk and has a lot of insight, as Lowens details his memories from the production. Del Valle provides a wealth of details also, which ensures that the track never becomes dull. I didn’t expect much in this case, but this track proved to be a terrific one.