Breather was a bit longer than anticipated. But I return.
Spain’s Paul Naschy is a name that’s popped up quite a few
times when compiling a list of werewolf movies to watch – it seems, to date,
that he’s portrayed werewolves more than any other actor. Real name Jacinto
Molina Alvarez, he was advised to change his name for international markets by the
German distributors of this, his first werewolf move and also his first
appearance as the mysterious Waldemar Daninsky. He would play the part another
11 times, each film unconnected to the others, So, he could be killed at the end of
one film and then just turn up in the next with no explanation; not unlike Lawrence
Talbot and Dracula in House of Dracula (1945), after they were seemingly
permanent demises in House of Frankenstein (1944). Logic’s not always
great, and that’s just as applicable here in La marca del hombre lobo
(1968), which translates as Mark of the Wolfman. The version I managed
to see was actually titled Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror and promises a Frankenstein
Monster which becomes a wolfman! This does
not happen. Nope.
Waldemar is bitten by a formerly dead werewolf, of the family Wolfstein (as close as this affair gets to the broken promise of a lycanthropic Frankenstein), after he is accidentally by a drunken Romani couple seeking shelter in his ruined castle. Now cursed, he seeks help from his two “friends”, Rudolph and Janice, only after stealing Janice from Rudolph, as is the way with mysterious chaps like himself. They call on two strange doctors, who claim they can help cure Waldemar, but in fact turn out to be vampires who want Waldemar’s werewolf for, well, it’s never really explained. Even less makes sense after this turn of events, with the original werewolf somehow resurrected again for purposes as unclear as anything else.
There’s a decent sense of gloom
across the film, even with the garish and slightly overdone production design.
We get treated to Waldemar’s first transformation through a weird, blurry lens
effect. The make up design is not bad, clearly your average wolfman, but the difference
is in Naschy’s wild performance, as he jerks unpredictably from side to side,
almost like a crab, on his haunches. His first victims, who coincidentally
speak to each other about werewolves just as Waldemar burst into their
cottage and engages in what a police report might refer to as a frenzied and sustained
attack. Naschy’s werewolf is a little dynamo, full of manic energy. He would
play the part again and I’m intrigued as to what the rest of his films are
like.But good to see werewolf films from other parts of the world.