Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Miguel Islesias, 1975
Starring: Paul Naschy, Silvia Solar, Mercedes Molina

A professor contacts his colleague, Waldemar Daninsky, to journey to Tibet and explore the aftermath of an expedition that was interrupted by a Yeti attack. During a storm, Daninsky is separated from the group of Tibetan explorers and finds his way to some caves. He stumbles across two attractive women and begins a sexual relationship with them both (yes, this happens), until he realizes they are cannibals. He defeats them, but not before one of them bites him. Her bite later transforms him into a werewolf and he roams the Himalayas, transforming into a hairy beast.

Meanwhile, the rest of the group has been overtaken by a group of bandits, including their fearsome leader (whose name sounds exactly like Chaka Khan) and a diabolical sorceress. Daninsky eventually rescues the group, particularly the professor’s beautiful young daughter, and must face off against both the sorceress and the danger Yeti still loose in the mountains.

Also known as Night of the Howling Beast, Horror of the Werewolf, The Curst of the Beast, and Hall of the Mountain King, this film – written by star Paul Naschy as part of his El Hombre Lobo series – may not actually have a big Yeti presence, but there is certainly a lot going on. While the Yeti bookends the film (attacking miscellaneous travelers in the beginning and facing off against Naschy at the end), there is also cave exploration, naked cannibal women who keep Daninsky as their sex slave, sherpas, mad science, shrunken heads, inexplicable bagpipes, a band of thieves with their own personal evil priestess, and plenty of lovely snow.

The film is an absolute mess and like the earlier Assignment Terror, it moves at a breakneck pace for most of its running time, throwing in all sorts of willy-nilly subplots. I do wish there had more Yeti and less of Chaka Khan, the bandit with some sort of Elizabeth Bathory-inspired skin disorder. And really, where did those cave-dwelling cannibal ladies come from? Why did their bite turn Daninsky into a werewolf? In one of the earlier films, it’s suggested that he was transformed by the attack of a Yeti, while exploring in Tibet. Here we have Tibet and Yetis, but for some reason that earlier explanation was totally ignored.

Shockingly, this was banned from England in the ‘80s and listed as an infamous Video Nasty. To be honest, I’m not really sure why. There is some gore – a woman is flayed alive to help alleviate Chaka Khan’s skin disorder – and plenty of sex, namely a threesome with the cannibal women. Recycling some elements from his previous films, there is an evil sorceress named Wandessa, and there is at least one scene where Daninsky is chained to a wall.

The Werewolf and the Yeti harkens back to the cheap quality of some of the earlier films. There are plenty of random elements here, both in set and plot construction. In lieu of a castle, there’s a crumbling monastery and plenty of caves. While these are decent looking, Naschy is obviously not in Tibet. I believe the sudden use of bagpipes in the score is meant to indicate the fact they Daninsky is in a London setting, but it’s absolutely hilarious.

If you enjoy B-grade horror, this film will probably appeal to you. Keep in mind that the flawed script is an absolute mess and the poor print quality sometimes makes it difficult to tell what’s going on, particularly when the film switches rapidly between characters. The subplot where Chaka Khan (that’s what his name sounds like, so that’s what I’m going with) kidnaps the professor and his expedition team is a bit dull. Because there’s a pretty girl with them, we know they’re going to be rescued by Daninsky at some point during the film.

There are some pretty unexpected scenes, but all in all, The Werewolf and the Yeti is not quite the film I was hoping it would be. It does, however, have a surprise ending. In all the previous films, Daninsky is killed by a woman who loves him, typically shot in the hearth with a silver bullet. Here the sweet young professor’s daughter finds a way to cure him – thanks to the advice of some random monks – when she makes a potion with a rare blossom and her own blood. They frolic off down the mountainside together, apparently oblivious to the fact that they’re in the Himalayas and are not wearing coats.

The Werewolf and the Yeti is available on a somewhat expensive, out of print DVD or you can rent a streaming version from Amazon. This comes recommended to fans of cheesy horror with unabashedly wild and nonsensical plots. Naschy fans will also want to check it out, though you may not want to stay sober while doing so. 

Note: If you hunger for more Yeti, check out Hammer's The Abominable Snowman (1957), starring Peter Cushing. This was likely one of Naschy's inspirations for his film.

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