Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Night of the Werewolf (1980) review
NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF 1980 aka EL RETORNO DEL HOMBRE LOBO aka THE CRAVING
Paul Naschy (Waldemar Daninsky), Julia Saly (Countess Elisabeth Bathory)
Directed by Jacinto Molina (Naschy)
The Countess Erzebeth Bathory de Nadasdy, along with her brother and Waldemar Daninsky, are executed for their satanic crimes. Several hundred years later, three young women are traveling in the Carpathians and end up at a mysterious castle. One of the girls is a satanist who wishes to resurrect the Countess using the blood of her female companions as the sacrifice. Meanwhile, two graverobbers open the tomb of Waldemar Daninsky and remove the silver dagger from his chest bringing him back to life. The revived Bathory plans to unleash the Devil unto the world with Daninsky as her minion, but is against being her slave again. Waldemar does battle with the vampire queen in the hopes of freeing himself from the werewolf curse.
Naschy directs his eighth appearance as Polish wolfman, Waldemar Daninsky in what is essentially a remake of WEREWOLF SHADOW (1971; aka WEREWOLF VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMAN). There is also re-creations of scenes from some of his previous wolfman movies. What is interesting here is the amount of gothic atmosphere on display which definitely enhances the lackluster werewolf attack scenes; the weakest aspect of the film save for the finale. The scenes of Daninsky attacking various villagers are lazily handled but this is amended for the ending when the wolfman battles it out against Bathory.
The make up is very good this time out most especially for Naschy's wolfman character. The scene where the Countess is resurrected is an R rated re-staging of the same scene found in Hammer's DRACULA- PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966). As per most of Naschy's movies, he adds multiple monsters to this film, too including a Mummy/Zombie servant which is exactly like the one in WEREWOLF SHADOW (1971). Also repeated is the story conceit that only love can free Daninsky from his curse. This concept is present in a number of the other wolfman movies Naschy starred in.
Considering the wealth of recycled material on display, the only real reason to watch this movie is for the gothic trappings and cinematography. The photography really is quite striking possessing a nightmarish quality about it. Naschy is, as always, vigorous in his creature role and always fun to watch. However, it's not quite enough to warrant repeated viewings. Another recurring problem here as in other Naschy films I've seen are the odd and often abundant plot holes that seem to crop up in regular interims. Naschy's fans are really the only ones who will enjoy and appreciate these films. The women are also beautiful and like the Hammer films, you get to see plenty of girls in their diaphanous gowns wandering creepy and often times cobweb encroached hallways and musty tombs.
Naschy counts this as one of his favorites and one of his best films. It did win several awards as well as accolades for Naschy's performance. Previously released in the US in a cut form under the title THE CRAVING, I saw the film years back on VHS and didn't care for it at all. Seeing it again now, it's better but nothing overly special and I doubt I will be looking at it again anytime soon. It's never boring in the slightest and the moody theatrics give you much to look at, it's just that you've seen it before and done better.
Daninsky was Naschy's favorite character and below are the Daninsky werewolf films. Sadly, one of them is believed to no longer exist...
LA MARCA DEL HOMBRE LOBO (1968; aka FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR)
LAS NOCHES DEL HOMBRE LOBO (1968; the only remaining remnants of the film are some stills)
LOS MONSTRUOS DEL TERROR (1970; aka ASSIGNMENT: TERROR)
LA FURIA DEL HOMBRE LOBO (1970; aka THE FURY OF THE WOLFMAN)
LA NOCHE DE WALPURGIS (1970; aka WEREWOLF SHADOW)
DOCTOR JEKYLL Y EL HOMBRE LOBO (1971; aka DR. JEKYLL & THE WOLFMAN)
EL RETORNO DE WALPURGIS (1972; aka CURSE OF THE DEVIL)
LA MALDICION DE LA BESTIA (1975; aka THE WEREWOLF & THE YETI)
EL RETORNO DEL HOMBRE LOBO (1980; aka THE CRAVING)
BUENAS NOCHES SENOR MONSTRUO (1982) Not Waldemar but Naschy plays a werewolf
LA BESTIA Y LA ESPADA MAGICA (1983; aka THE BEAST & THE MAGIC SWORD)
EL AULLIDO DEL DIABLO (1988; aka HOWL OF THE DEVIL; the character appears in a dream sequence)
LICANTROPO (1996; the return of the Daninsky character; aka LYCANTHROPUS)
A number of Paul Naschy films were released remastered and restored through Tripictures in Spain. These US releases are representative of those releases although these versions utilize the English language versions (the Spanish versions with subs are also included) with alternate scenes to the Spanish counterpart.
DVD availability: BCI/Deimos Entertainment