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FRIDAY

The runt of Universal’s monster movies, a failure when it was released in 1935 and now largely forgotten, director Stuart Walker’s Werewolf of London is nevertheless a minor masterpiece of Gothic filmmaking, predating The Wolf Man by six years. Werewolf begins in Tibet—eerily and beautifully evoked by a shot of the moon, full and fat, hanging over snow-capped mountains—with botanist Wilfred Glendon’s search for the “Mariphasa lumino lupino,” a rare flower “which, it is said, takes its life from the moon.” Glendon (Henry Hull, pictured) finds his flower, but not before he is attacked by something “that is neither man nor wolf, but a satanic creature with the worst qualities of both.” He survives the encounter, barely, returning to London and his vapid wife, Lisa (Valerie Hobson), with a bandaged arm and the monstrous urge to hunt and “kill the thing he loves most” whenever night falls. Werewolf’s special effects—especially Glendon’s first transformation from man to man-wolf, photographed in what appears to be a continuous tracking shot—are superb, as are Walker’s staging of the film’s stalking sequences and his expressionistic use of lighting and shadow. John Colton’s smart, economical screenplay is excellent, too, redeeming Hull’s largely bloodless performances as Glendon by giving him the one of the best death scenes in any of Universal’s monster mashes. “In a few moments, now,” Glendon chokes out in his death rattle, “I shall know why all this had to be.” Only the cruelest of hearts could remain unmoved. At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th St. SE. $5. (202) 547-6839. (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa)