She-Wolf of London (Jean Yarbrough, 1946, USA)

She-Wolf of London is a 1946 Universal horror film directed by Jean Yarborough. Yarborough is perhaps best known for his Abbott and Costello films, as well as his numerous horror movies including the Devil Bat and King of the Zombies. This film was no doubt inspired by the films that Val Lewton was producing at RKO Pictures at the time, most specifically Cat People. These were dark, low-budget horror films that relied primarily on atmosphere and human psychology for scares, rather than monsters. She-Wolf of London is an attempt to capture the psychological horror, although its name must have disappointed some fans after leaving the theater - there is no werewolf in the film! 

The film takes place in London at the turn of the 20th century. A woman named Phyllis Allenby (June Lockhart) is set to marry her lawyer boyfriend. A series of murders beginning happening, and Scotland Yard is convinced that it is werewolves. Phyllis becomes convinced that she is the werewolf monster due to a family curse (the "Curse of the Allenbys," as the film was titled in the UK). As it turns out, her Aunt Martha might be up to more than she is leading on. The twist ending is not very surprising, but Aunt Martha (Sara Haden) is quite memorable. 

Contemporary reviewers were not so kind to She-Wolf of London, with The New York Times calling it a "bottom-drawer" title. However, some critics did find merit in the film. with Jack D. Grant of the Hollywood Reporter praising the film's sense of suspense. The film is perhaps overall not that bad, but it is lower-tier Universal material. Had it not had the werewolf association, it would be an interesting gothic melodrama with some good performances. The addition of the werewolf element and the twist ending likely upset many horror films.



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