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Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory

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Who's behind the mysterious mauling of Mary Smith, resident of a private reform institute for wayward girls? Is it the new science professor, Julian Olcott, or the philandering patron, Sir Alfred? Or might it be prickly Leonor MacDonald or the blackmailing caretaker with a dog named Wolf? Suspects are almost as numerous as the wolves who prowl the institute's extensive grounds, and Pricilla, the good girl with the doe eyes and nerves of steel, is determined to find the killer.

"Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory" (1961) is a spectacular example of a story in which characters behave as the plot requires rather than according to logic, as when Pricilla—who doesn't seem particularly idiotic—nonchalantly wanders the grounds post-mauling, apparently unaware the killer she seeks might find her. There's also the caretaker who gets himself trapped on a roof while trying to steal some unsigned letters (you'd think he'd know a sure path through his own building) and the fact that the police seem to overlook just about everything you'd expect might be procedure. It's also got a creepy old building, a doctor who happens to have an interest in curing lycanthropy, a monster that does all the classic growling you'd hope for and—let's not forget—that titular dorm full of young women.

Filmed in Austria and Italy by director Paolo Heusch, the film was originally released in Europe as "Lycanthropus", a more title more in keeping with the pseudo-scientific explanation for why a human changes into a wolfish hominid at the full moon. (Hint: it's all in the pituitary glands. But everybody knows that, right?) Pricilla is played by Barbara Lass, the Polish-born actress whose best-known role to American audiences might be as Roman Polanski's first wife (she starred in his 1959 film "When Angels Fall"). They divorced a year after "Werewolf".

The Science

Dan Maldonado

Dan MaldonadoDan Maldonado, Director of Juvenile Justice Services, discusses the rise in the female adolescent crime rate and the film "Werewolf In A Girl's Dormitory."


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