The story is obviously reminiscent of The Wolf Man, though it functions under its own set of established guidelines. What it shares in common with George Waggner’s game changing film however, is perhaps the most important aspect of the production: Believably conflicted characters. People are being attacked in the rural regions of London. The papers are declaring the perpetrator a potential werewolf and the tension level locally is sky high. Phyllis, a cute and proper young lady is under the belief that she is the werewolf in question. She wakes to find her clothes wet and dirty, blood on her hands; the following day announcements of another attack spread. Phyllis may be a bit naïve, but she isn’t stupid. She’s concerned for herself as well as others, but is she actually a man-hunting werewolf, or is someone else, perhaps someone much closer, the true culprit – setting Phyllis up for a fall? It’s going to take a lot of exhausting work from law enforcement to solve this one, and by the time they do, the emotionally trodden Phyllis and those around her may have already come face to face with a grim reality we like to call The Reaper.
George Bricker puts together a fair screenplay, and he knew the importance of Phyllis’ mental state and how she responded to the idea of potentially suffering from a nasty case of lycanthropy. Chances are Bricker took a long hard look at Waggner’s flick (which predates this piece by a half-decade) and truly studied Lon Chaney Jr.’s approach to the character Lawrence Talbot, who despises and fears (in equal measure) himself for being the monster that he is (well, becomes). Chaney completely refined the idea of creating a sympathetic character and then delivered in front of the cameras in a way we just hadn’t seen yet. June Lockhart does a damn fine job of replicating the effect. She isn’t as powerful as Chaney was, but who has been, over the course of history? Not many. Just the same, Lockhart gives it a valiant effort, and proves to be the most memorable element of the picture. She’s cute, she’s conscious and she’s got a heart of gold. That’s what we want out of a heroine.
Unfortunately we’re not treated to any real iconic transformation moments and Jack Pierce’s setups to shine with the makeup effects are really rather minimal. That’s a bit disappointing. What made The Wolf Man a near flawless film was the perfect blend of atmospheric sets, stunning performances and excellent special effects and makeup work. What makes She-Wolf of London an enjoyable film is the charming combination of atmospheric sets and endearing performances. The SFX are essentially a non-factor in this picture, and while that won’t sit well with fans of Pierce’s more ambitious outings, it’s still likely you’ll dig this one for the heartbeat it possesses and the obvious desire to really highlight the human elements of the terror, rather than the blatant monster chills.
This is a good flick, worthy of adding to the home collection.