Paul Naschy's monster mash...
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 05/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Originally released as La Marca del Hombre-lobo (1968), aka The Mark of the Wolfman, this Spanish horror production found great popularity on the American drive-in circuit under the title Frankenstein's Bloody Terror (1972), distributed by producer Sam Sherman through his company Independent International Pictures, which was the company primarily responsible for inflicting Al Adamson's brand of cinematic pain on unsuspecting movie patrons with such features like Satan's Sadists (1969) and Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (1971). Directed by Enrique L?pez Eguiluz, the movie was written (and starred in) by Jacinto Molina, better known to his many fans as Paul Naschy (The Werewolf Versus Vampire Women, Doctor Jekyll and the Werewolf, Curse of the Devil), a prolific actor/writer/director/producer sometimes referred to as `the Spanish Lon Chaney' due to his penchant for playing the monster in a great many European horror films (this was the first in a lengthy series of wolf man films featuring Naschy). Also appearing is Manuel Manzaneque (Hotel T?voli), Dyanik Zurakowska (Terror of the Living Dead), Juli?n Ugarte (All the Colors of the Dark), and Aurora de Alba (Vengeance of the Zombies).
Naschy plays Count Waldemar Daninsky, a man who becomes enthralled with a local woman named Countess Janice von Aarenberg (Zurakowska) who has recently returned home from school. Seems the Countess already has a suitor named Rudolph Weissmann (Manzaneque), but Waldemar's manly charms prove too strong so Rudi gets the boot. Meanwhile, a couple gypsies (one overly laden with bosom...homina homina) seek refuge in a nearby abandoned monastery to wait out a storm and discover an underground crypt. Being the opportunistic sort, the gypsies decide to relieve the occupants of the crypt of their valuables, but in the process one of them makes the unwitting mistake of pulling a silver cross/dagger from the chest of a well-preserved corpse, thereby unleashing the curse of the werewolf upon the land once again...smooth move, Ex-Lax. The subsequent maulings lead the villagers to believe wolves have come down from the mountains, so they form a hunting party, including Waldemar and Rudi, the latter soon suffering an attack from the hairy, toothy, slavering beast recently brought back from the dead. Waldemar saves the day (and Rudi), his reward a good-sized bite to the chest prior to putting the creature down. Both Rudi and Janice vow to help the now cursed Waldemar, scouring the monastery for any information, eventually coming across a correspondence from a Dr. Janos Mikhelov to the original wolf man. Apparently the good doctor has since passed, but his son, who shares the same name, has taken up his father's work and agrees to help the despondent Waldemar, arriving in short order with his really hot wife (who, like the gypsy woman, is loaded with bosom), both of whom prefer to work only at night...and here's where things get weird...turns out the doctor and his wife are a pair of swinging vampires, and while I'm unsure what their plans for Waldemar involve, there's no mistaking their interest or intent for both Rudi or Janice...
The one thing many people will notice while watching this film is while it has both wolf men and vampires, there's no Frankenstein monster anywhere to be found, which is curious given fact the name Frankenstein is so predominant in the title. Apparently distributor Sherman had promised a Frankenstein film, and when he couldn't come up with one, he did the next best thing by tacking on a Frankenstein angle to this import, adding a bit of narration up front trying to marry both the Frankenstein and wolf man mythos together, the result being a plot point that makes no sense. Actually, there were a few areas in the plot that were a bit fuzzy, but I attributed much of this to the actual Spanish to English transition. The trick here is to not get so hung up on various story details, otherwise you'll end up missing out on the aspects that made this feature as much fun as it was, specifically the natural atmosphere, the location shots, the vibrant visuals, and the monsters. The inclusion of the vampires seemed odd, but not unwelcome. The movie has a really strong gothic vibe throughout, primarily due to the extensive location shots populated with appropriate set pieces. The performances were better than I expected, and I especially liked how Naschy took it to the hilt during his transformation sequences (check out the muscular physique on Naschy during his shirtless scenes...someone had been pumping the iron). The actual transformation sequences themselves were strictly low budget, as they basically involved someone moving a smudged filter in front of the camera's lens, but it came off pretty effective. I particularly liked the fangs on Naschy's wolf man, as they were quite the honking set of choppers. The actual eviscerations aren't shown, but these sequences are handled in such a way as you get a pretty good idea what's going on, even if you don't see the rendering of flesh. As far as action goes, there's a few lusty maulings, some monster on monster stuff (ever wonder who'd win in a fight between an werewolf and a vampire?), neck biting, impalements, and so on...there was one sequence I found pretty funny, and that was when the wolf man broke into a meager dwelling and attacked the two residents. He went after the man first, and then pounced on the woman (given the attractiveness of the woman, she would have probably been the one I would have went after first). After beating on the man for a bit, the beast picked him up and chucked him on an open fire, to which the poor fellow landed seat first, did a little bouncing around, and then spewed blood from his mouth. It sounds gruesome, but I couldn't help laughing just because it looked so odd. The liner notes indicate that at some point this film was released in 3-D, and some parts of the movie seem to confirm this as there appears to be an inherent blurriness normally associated with the process, but I guess it didn't go over so well at the time, so that aspect of the release was canned (much of the American promotional materials indicate the movie was shot in Chill-O-Rama, but I'm unsure if that was relating to the 3-D process of something else).
This DVD release from Shriek Show/Media Blasters includes a decent looking, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) picture. There are flaws present (lines, specks, etc.) and the picture, at times, looks a little washed out, but for the most part, it came across well enough. The Dolby Digital audio track also wasn't spectacular, as the audio level seemed to fade in and out at times, but was serviceable for the most part. There are a good deal of extras including a commentary track with Sam Sherman, who was the U.S. distributor, TV and radio spots, deleted and extended scenes, an original trailer, a photo gallery, and interview with Paul Naschy, liner notes by George Reis of the DVD Drive-in website, and trailers for other films including The Being (1983), Just Before Dawn (1981), Anthropophagus (1981), and Golden Temple Amazons (1973). My only beef with this release is it would have been nice if the original version of this film had been included, but perhaps that wasn't available.
Long awaited DVD version of horror classic
S. Phillips | Las Vegas, NV United States | 11/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first in a long running series of werewolf films is presented here in widescreen format, which is a big plus and a revelation to those of us who have only seen the awful cropped prints.
The extras are fantastic, especially the commentary by Sam Sherman and the easter egg featuring the recording session of the advertising campaign (easily found).
The only downside is that while the film was shot in 3-D and the elements still exist, this presentation is strictly flat only, but as Sherman says in the commentary he'd love to re-release the 3-D version to midnight shows!
To the person who complained the Paul Naschy interview is only in Spanish.... Sir, turn on the English subtitles!!! The interview is subtitled. LOL."
Finally, a GREAT drive-in classic on DVD!
David M. Konow | California | 11/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those who recall the great days of low budget B movies on late night T.V., here's a great 2:30 in the morning classic I grew up with that's never seen an official stateside release until now. A fun, old fashioned gothic horror film with a hilarious misleading cartoon prolog explaining the Frankenstein in the title, and funny enough, past a certain point in the film you either forget there's no Frankenstein, or don't care! Still, you got werewolves, vampires, great cinematography, old castles, lots of atmosphere, creepy music, it more than makes up for it. The first, and best of the Paul Naschy werewolf films, finally getting the letterboxed (did I forget to mention it's in 70mm?) deluxe treatment it deserves."
AT LAST, AT LAST...WE HAVE IT ON DVD AT LAST!!!
DCSKL | Girard, PA United States | 02/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After many long years of searching in frustration and dissapointment, fans of LA MARCA DEL HOMBRE LOBO have this classic of euro-horror on an excellent quality DVD.
I've previously purchased copies of this film on VHS and on DVD, and found both the picture quality and sound to be terrible. Media Blasters however, has done great justice to this long lost treasure. The video transfer is great, and the sound is much better than other versions I've purchased. If you have any of those other copies of this film, throw them in the trash, and get this Media Blasters version.
This was not the most well written or acted horror film of all time, but it has some of the most atmospheric sets, color, cinematography and sound. A few scenes were stunningly well staged. It's not Lord of the Rings or Hamlet, but it's just very good escapism for fans of 1960s-70s European Horror.
Many people wonder, and rightly so, about the fact that neither Dr. Frankenstein nor his creation appear in this movie. As the insert in the DVD case and other sources document, the American distributor of this film was committed to releasing a Frankenstein movie. He had bought ads and made commitments to theaters, then found that the studio sent him a werewolf film. In a rather silly effort to "explain" this oddity, he had an animation short tagged on the opening credits showing the Frankenstein monster changing into a werewolf, while a voice over told the audience that the Frankenstein family had fallen victim to lycanthropy and were now known as "Wolfstein". None of that has anything to do with what actually happens in the film what-so-ever, but it was cause for amusement, which only added to the popularity of the cult classic. This is one of those films that you either say "I don't get it" and hate it, or you fall in love with it for reasons that might be hard to explain.
This DVD version has good quality picture and sound. It also is loaded with entertaining extras. Well worth buying.