Thursday, March 6, 2014

Paul Naschy and El Hombre Lobo

Jacinto Molina Álvarez (1934-2009) aka Paul Naschy was a Spanish actor, director, and screenwriter. Outside of Jess Franco, he is probably the most well-known and prolific figure associated with Spanish horror cinema. Though he got his start as a professional weightlifter, Naschy rose to prominence with a series of werewolf films based on the character Waldemar Daninsky, a tragic, yet noble man cursed with lycanthropy. Naschy starred in all of these films and wrote many of them. Throughout the series – known as El Hombre Lobo (literally The Wolf Man) – he is pitted against a series of foes from female vampire countesses to the yeti, and is the object a desire for both village women and aristocrats. Naschy created the character based on his love of Universal’s horror films, particularly The Wolf Man and their later monster mash-up movies, such as Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman. It is important to keep in mind that the El Hombre Lobo films are not consequential and, outside of a shared title character, have little to do with one another.  

Though he holds the record for acting as a werewolf the most number of times (eat dust, Lon Chaney Jr.), Naschy didn’t only appear as Waldemar Daninsky. He took on a number of horror-related roles, including the Mummy, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dracula, other werewolves, zombies, Fu Manchu, and even Frankenstein’s Monster, effectively recreating Universal’s golden age of horror in ‘60s and ‘70s Spain. He also starred in satanic horror, like Inquisition, which he directed, and Spanish attempts at the giallo, such as Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll with Leon Klimovsky, the director he collaborated with the most.

Las noches del Hombre Lobo (1968) aka Nights of the Wolf Man or Nights of the Werewolf – Naschy’s first werewolf movie is considered lost; director Rene Govar passed away before it was completed and it was never finished or released.
La marca del Hombre-lobo (1968) aka The Mark of the Wolfman, The Werewolf's Mark, The Vampire Of Dr. Dracula, or Frankenstein's Bloody Terror This is the first Waldemar Daninsky film and sets the tone for those to follow. After the brooding Daninsky is turned into a werewolf, he is victimized by two vampires.
Los monstruos del terror (1970) aka Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Assignment Terror, Operation Terror – Waldemar Daninsky faces off against a variety of creatures, including vampires, mummies, and even aliens.
La noche de Walpurgis (1971) Werewolf vs. the Vampire Women, Werewolf Shadow, Shadow of the Werewolf, Blood Moon – In the third and one of the best entries, Daninsky fights an old, powerful vampire countess.
La furia del Hombre Lobo (1972) aka The Fury of the Wolfman or The Wolfman Never Sleeps – Naschy’s fourth film involves his revival at the hands of a professor hoping to use him for some diabolical experiments. 
Dr. Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo (1972) aka Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf, Dr. Jekyll vs. the Wolf Man – Daninsky seeks to cure his lycanthropy with the help of Dr. Jekyll’s grandson.  El retorno de Walpurgis (1973) aka Curse of the Devil, The Return of Walpurgis, or The Black Harvest of Countess Dracula – In this sixth entry, Daninsky is cursed by a malevolent witch.
La maldición de la bestia (1975) aka Night of the Howling Beast, Hall of the Mountain King, Horror of the Werewolf, or The Werewolf and the Yeti – Here Daninsky travels to the Himalayas and faces off against sex-demons and other unsavory creatures, such as – you guessed it – a yeti.El retorno del Hombre Lobo (1980) aka The Craving, Return of the Wolf Man, Night of the Werewolf – In this more difficult to find eighth film, Daninsky must face off against black magic and an evil countess. This was allegedly his favorite Daninsky film.
La bestia y la espada mágica (1983) aka The Beast and the Magic Sword – Daninsky turns his attention to Japanese history and mythology, particularly legends of the samurai.
Licántropo: El asesino de la luna llena (1996) aka Lycantropus: The Moonlight Murders – Naschy returned to the role of Daninsky after more than a decade. Here the aging werewolf is still trying to find a cure for his furry curse.
Tomb of the Werewolf (2003) – In Naschy’s twelfth and final Daninsky film, he partnered with cult director Fred Olen Ray.

Other notable genre mentions:
Jack el destripador de Londres (1971) aka Seven Murders for Scotland Yard – This giallo directed by Jose Luis Madrid pits Jack the Ripper against Scotland Yard.
El espanto surge de la tumba (1972) aka Horror Rises from the Tomb – Naschy’s second reoccurring character, the evil warlock Alaric de Marnac (based on occult-obsesses serial killer Gilles de Rais), first appeared here.
El gran amor de Conde Dracula (1972) aka Count Dracula’s Great Love, Cemetery Girls, or Dracula’s Virgin Lovers – Here Naschy stars as Dracula preying upon women staying the night in his seemingly abandoned castle.
El jorobado de la morgue (1972) aka The Hunchback of the Morgue – Naschy stars as the titular Hunchback in one of his most well-regarded horror films.
La rebellion de las muertas (1972) aka The Rebellion of the Dead or Vengeance of the Zombies – In this strange zombie film, Naschy stars as a mystic who raises women from the dead and has them act out his vengeance
Los ojos azules de la muneca rota (1973) aka Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll or House of the Psychotic Women – An interesting giallo where Naschy is hired as the gardener for a house of disturbed sisters.
La venganza de la Momia (1973) aka The Mummy’s Revenge or Revenge of the Mummy – Naschy’s turn as the moldy priest Imhotep is a remake of Karl Freund’s beloved Universal film.
Una libelula para cada muerto (1973) aka A Dragonfly for Each Corpse aka The Vigilante Challenges the Police – In this giallo, a vigilante killer is attacking the streets of Milan. Naschy stars as the detective trying to stop him.
Exorcismo (1974) aka The Nights of Satan or Night of the Exorcist – Another riff on The Exorcist, though Naschy claimed to have written it before William Friedkin’s classic was released.
Inquisicion (1976) aka Inquisition – This satanic horror tale about a medieval witch hunter was the first film Naschy directed; he also starred.
Ultimo Deseo (1977) aka The People Who Own the Dark – This bizarre apocalyptic story concerns a group of libertines and Sade worshippers who are trapped in an old castle when an atomic blast goes off nearby, blinding the locals and driving them mad.  
El aullido del diablo (1987) aka Howl of the Devil – Another later, more obscure entry, where Naschy plays a series of roles, including a werewolf, and other horror icons such as Howard Vernon and Caroline Munro appear.
Um lobisomem na Amazonia (2005) aka A Werewolf in Amazonia – Naschy’s last werewolf film (not as Daninsky) is a Brazilian take on The Island of Dr. Moreau.

Naschy died of cancer in 2009, but left behind an impressive body of work and an autobiography – Memoirs of a Wolfman – chronicling his experiences in genre filmmaking. Visit this excellent tribute site to learn more or check out the lengthy biography on (re)Search my Trash. Muchas Gracias, Senor Lobo, a heavily illustrated German book about Naschy, is also worth hunting down.

I plan to review most of the films mentioned above, though not all – some of them are still not dubbed in English or available in the U.S. I'm also covering most of the El Hombre Lobo series and a handful of Naschy’s other horror films as part of my lengthy series on important ‘70s horror. Viva Naschy!

No comments:

Post a Comment