Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory Blu-ray Review (Severin Films)

3.3

Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory was an answer to – or, subtle copycat of – the popular monster films of the late ’50s like I Was a Teenage Werewolf, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, etc. Originally released as Lycanthropus and modified slightly for American audiences – including the addition of the catchy tune “The Ghoul in School” to really give it appeal during an alternate credits sequence – the film had a mess of a crew involving multiple languages and nationalities, directed by Paolo Heusch and written by Ernesto Gasataldi though both adopted English-sounding names for the release. However, the premise is a pretty solid affair regardless of background: Priscilla (Barbara Lass), a beautiful young lady attending reform school, experiences a number of strange deaths that seem related to wolf attacks and a blackmail scheme.

Gastaldi employs his giallo-writing background to give Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory a unique murder mystery plot; what begins with a young woman blackmailing her older suitor Sir Alfred Whiteman (Maurice Marsac) about his letters soon escalates into multiple murders befalling the hapless victims of this reform school, with Priscilla searching for the answers. The film has a number of possible suspects including the new teacher Dr. Olcott (Carl Schell) who seems the most likely, but over the course of the film she learns that there’s actually a hairy werewolf stalking the campus during full moons.

Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory certainly suffers for its slowness, though, as Gastaldi and Heusch build the mystery. It takes a good 45 minutes for anything truly remarkable to happen, which is a bit too long considering the film’s 85 minute running time. Most of it involves Priscilla slowly unraveling the mystery and meeting with people on campus; it’s just not compelling enough to buoy the film along. Once the werewolf makes his appearance, though, things pick up a bit – and with the amount of suspects in the film, there’s a lot of time spent pointing the finger at each one as victims continue to fall.

The werewolf effects are pretty good for this time period, too, with a nice transformation sequence that makes use of slow dissolves to showcase makeup. While the finale is too easily wrapped, Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory has enough thrills – and a bit of quick titillation – for contemporary viewers to understand its impact during the early ’60s. It’s slow by today’s standards but still worth a watch, and most will at least enjoy the melding of werewolf elements and Gastaldi’s giallo-infused mystery.

Blu-ray

Severin Films has released Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory on Blu-ray for the first time, with a new 2k transfer from “archival elements.” There’s no indication what those elements are, but the presentation does show that the source has encountered some normal age-related wear and tear. The film has a pretty consistent bit of speckling, occasional lines, and a bit of wobble in specific scenes, none of which are particularly obstructive for viewers. The black-and-white transfer is presented in the correct 1.66:1 ratio with a bitrate of almost 30kbps, and the overall result is very good. The film has some bright contrast especially in outdoor scenes which can cause perceived bleariness, and some medium-range shots do suffer from lost sharpness. However, these are minor and Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory does look very solid, managing its dark scenes to a high degree as well.

For audio, viewers are presented with two options in the setup menu. One can choose the English dub with optional English subtitles, or the Italian dub with differing English subtitles. Both are DTS-HD 2.0 mono tracks and both sound pretty good with the occasional distortion during louder music peaks. It’s hard to say which track is objectively better for watching the film; the English track features some bad dubbing and very clunky dialogue at times, but the Italian is equally clunky too. Either way, the campiness comes through.

Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory extras menu

Extras include a new interview with Ernesto Gastaldi, who discusses the writing process, his name change, and his own criticisms of the film (and he’s pretty honest with himself about it). Also on the disc is a previously-released audio commentary with Curt Lowens and David Del Valle, the alternate English opening with “The Ghoul in School,” and the US and Italian trailers.

Included as supplemental extras are a CD soundtrack and a reproduced comic publicity kit including photos with comical captions and a summary of the film, along with a CD track listing at the end.

Extra Features

  • NEW 2k scan from archival elements
  • NEW Bad Moon Rising: Interview with Screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi (HD; 10:53)
  • NEW Booklet insert
  • Audio commentary with actor Curt Lowens moderated by David Del Valle
  • Alternate Opening (unrestored HD; 0:26)
  • Italian Trailer (unrestored HD; 3:29)
  • US Trailer (unrestored HD; 1:12)
  • BONUS: CD Soundtrack

BD Info

Packaging Details

Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory front cover
Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory booklet cover
Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory is a slow-paced but eventually engaging horror film that pairs murder mystery with late '50s-era werewolf effects. Severin Films' new 2k transfer and extras make this a worthwhile Blu-ray to own.
Film
Blu-ray
Reader Rating0 Votes
Good
Good werewolf effects for the period
New 2k scan and supplemental extras add value
Bad
Film is overly slow
3.3
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