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Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory (1963)

by on 2010/10/17

A chilly autumn morning and a cheesy, black-and-white B movie = Happy Halloween.

The cheesy B movie in question this morning was Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory, sometimes packaged under the title Ghoul in a Girl’s School loosely based on the rock-horror song Ghoul in School that ran over the trailer during the film’s American run. Directed by Paolo Heusch,  this drive-in gem is also filed under Lycanthropus, so named during its original Italian release in 1961. As Morrissey would say: “Reissue, repackage…”

This 1963 screamfest is set in a remote, naughty (naughty) girl’s reformatory. The school of reform is rife with sneering teenage girl angst, heaving bosoms and outdoor, ahem, calisthenics. Enter a strapping young professor Dr. Olcott with Titian locks to stir up this caldron of girlish sensuality.

Every night, the girls are walled up in their dormitory, sung to sleep by the sound of howling wolves. Only one girl, the sassy Mary Smith (Mary McNeeran) has the gumption to scale the fortress for a midnight assignation with a dog (figuratively of course).

Turns out that she’s got more planned than a smooch under the stars, Mary’s blackmailing the womanizing head of the school, Sir Alfred (Maurice Marsac).

Mary, led by the lurching caretaker, meets with Sir Alfred,  fights with Sir Alfred, flees prettily and then becomes a scratching post for a wolf-man.

After Mary’s corpse is found in a creek, her eyes glued up in fright by her false eyelashes, her special friend Priscilla (Barbara Lass) demands answers. A Nancy Drew in chains, Priscilla quickly finds evidence of Mary’s blackmail scheme and turns to the sympathetic school director Swift (Curt Lowens) for help. When the evidence just as quickly turns up missing and the director turns his back, Priscilla finds she’s short on both credibility and allies.

To make matters worse, the only one who is willing to listen is Dr. Olcott, a man Priscilla discovered during her investigations was tried (but not convicted) for the 1st degree murder of one of his female patients.

The action – mostly hysterical screaming and running in high-heeled pumps – that ensues offers up some moments of real suspense and pounds, upon pounds of monster makeup.

Is the professor, Dr. Julian Olcott (Carl Schell), the fresh-faced, guiltless young man he appears to be? The creepy caretaker Walter (Allan Collins) with the shriveled arm and comb over looks pretty sinister too. Slimey Sir Alfred certainly had a motive. What about Sir Alfred’s decrepit dog-loving wife Sheena (Annie Steinhert)? How about the mannish and officious assistant to the director Leonor (Maureen O’Connor)?

The plot is driven by some hilariously stilted dialogue, clunky jump-cut editing, moments of truly terrible English dubbing, and the most hilarious fight scene with a werewolf ever. The man-vs-werewolf climactic scene looks more like a furry tickle fight than grappling battle to the death.

Nonetheless, Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory scratched, hacked and clawed my Halloween B movie itch today. For an even better pairing of bad girls and werewolves watch Ginger Snaps.

* * *

1 hr & 23 minutes


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